I’ve always been a fan of Harbour House. Honestly, I can’t recall how many times I’ve dined with them but I do remember it being spectacular every single time.
I’d only been to the Harbour House at Kalk Bay once before though – when a friend from America was visiting a few years back.
So I was ecstatic to visit them again for a gorgeous Sunday lunch to the tunes of Acoustic Element.
Ironically, I first came across Acoustic Element literally 2 days before I was set to dine at Harbour House, and instantly fell in love with their unique style of music.
Combining the classical strums of a violin and guitar with modern beats, they produce a sound that is as unique as it is wonderful.
In my humble opinion, it is perfectly matched to any occasion and any type of listener.
Headed up by Callen Peterson (violin) and Jody Abel (guitar and beatbox), this acoustic duo is definitely worth seeing.
Unfortunately, in the interim between our visit and publication, their schedules have changed and they’re not currently performing at Harbour House at present – but watch this space! They may just be back soon. And, in the meantime, you’ll have to catch them elsewhere.
Harbour House in Kalk Bay
While I’ve visited some of the other Harbour House branches as well, the one in Kalk Bay does have that unique ocean feel that matches their ambience so perfectly.
Kitted out in almost 100% white decor with a rustic wooden floor, the space reminds me of one of those dream beach houses that you can vividly imagine when reading a novel. Clean, aesthetically beautiful, and with that ocean smell that’s simultaneously refreshing and intoxicating.
I was quite surprised, though, at just how big this Harbour House is. If you enter through what I would think is the main entrance and take a seat at the back, you’ll never even know that there was a whole front part to the restaurant.
At least, that’s what happened to me. When I visited with my friend from America a few years ago, we sat in the back. When Sabine and I visited now and I asked where the band was set up, I was shown a whole new world.
The restaurant literally expands out over the ocean, peaking out beyond firm ground to give you that true ocean dining feel.
Even in the back section, you’re surprisingly close to the water and I can imagine the waves hitting those solid glass walls quite vigorously on a rough and windy day.
But you’ll be safe. In the history of Harbour House’s existence at this location, the waves have only smashed through the glass a mere handful of times.
So you can visit on beautifully sunny and bleak and dreary days just the same.
The Harbour House Menu & Prices
I haven’t quite figured out which menus I prefer. Do I like small menus that give me limited choice? Or do I like large menus with endless possibilities?
I do struggle with food envy quite a bit (no surprise there) and sometimes making a choice can be enormously tough.
And if I’m eating out for I Love Foodies, I also often like to order something that’s more visually appealing. I love eating prawns, for example, but I have yet to see an image of prawns that actually looks appetising.
Harbour House has a decently sized menu with everything you’d expect from a seafood restaurant — sushi, gourmet starters, salads, various line fish options, seafood platters, shellfish, seafood pasta, and a few vegan and meat-based dishes.
Price-wise, you’re looking at an average of R100 for a starter and R220 for a main.
Harbour House Wine List
Harbour House also has an exceptional wine list. I’ll take a wild guess and say they have more wine than food on their menu, and it’s delightful to find such a great variety.
You’ll find everything from French champagne to your popular South African wines to more exclusive and lesser-known wine estates.
Unfortunately, I was the designated driver so I didn’t actually have any wine but stole a sip or two from Sabine.
One great thing: We couldn’t decide on which wine we wanted, so our lovely waitress brought us a tasting to help us decide.
The I Love Foodies Dining Experience
A Choice Of Starters
I always love starters. They’re like tapas — tiny little pockets of goodness full of flavour and excitement. And they’re often much prettier and tastier than mains (probably because of the tiny pocket of goodness aspect).
We had a bit of a tough time deciding which starters to order, so we went with our given recommendations and ordered three starters to share:
- Scallop (R125): Lightly seared scallop with mango, lime, and chilli salsa and Japanese mayo
- Seafood Stack (R105): Salmon tartar, tempura prawns, caviar, avocado mouse, tomato, cucumber, and sweet chilli sauce
- Grilled calamari (R105): With olive oil, lemon, chilli, smoked paprika, black olives, and caper berries
I’m obsessed with scallops and always have to have one if I see it on a menu. They’re surprisingly rare in South Africa and I’ve only had them at a handful of places here but they’re pretty common in London and you can find them at markets like you do oysters.
If you’ve never had a scallop before, it’s a soft yet spongy texture — perhaps best likened to very, very soft calamari — that’s quite subtle in flavour. The accompanying sauces can change the flavour profile quite a bit. I enjoyed the Harbour House selection of more exotic flavours.
The seafood stack is an absolute winner if you like sushi but not keen on actually eating sushi. It’s also beautifully presented.
The grilled calamari definitely looked like the healthiest option with the most greens, and it was also delightful. Both Sabine and I really enjoyed this dish.
Our dad’s also Hungarian, though, and we grew up on a spice-diet of paprika, so anything with paprika is a winner in our book.
Heading Towards Mains
I was definitely in the mood for prawns but really didn’t want to risk having to try and make them look pretty.
Plus, I often don’t think prawns (or oysters) are a good indicator of how good a restaurant is. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s always easy to prepare prawns or that everyone sources great oysters, but they generally require less skill and finesse to prepare and serve than anything else.
Of course, I may be completely wrong and if you’ve had prawns or oysters at a restaurant that have completely blown you away, please do pop me a message. I’d be so keen to check that out.
I digress. Mains. So, prawns were off the cards and since we couldn’t decide, we also went with the recommended dishes:
- Kingklip Salsa Verde (R310): With garlic mash, green beans, a soft poached egg, and aioli
- Hake Chardonnay (R195): With baby vegetables, young potatoes, and a Chardonnay sauce
The fish in both dishes was exceptionally prepared — soft, crumbly, and delicate. The added veggies in the dishes were also full of flavour.
I’m never too sure about the soft poached egg though. I know it’s very common and I’ve had it before (most recently at Mont Rochelle’s Country Kitchen a little while before my Harbour House visit). And it does actually work together quite well.
Growing up, though, fish and eggs weren’t meant to be friends so I still think it’s a little weird. But if you also think it’s odd — give it a try. It may surprise you. It certainly surprised me.
Skipping Dessert Heaven
Harbour House has numerous desserts that sound spectacular. My two top choices:
- Harbour Eton Mess (R70): Raspberry sorbet, wild strawberry meringue, white chocolate mousse, almonds, macerated strawberries
- Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee (R80): With berries, chocolate pearls, and raspberry dust.
But, we didn’t end up having dessert. We were so stuffed (yes, yes, I know, we shouldn’t have had three starters — but YUM!).
So we just settled down with two cappuccinos, soaked up the view a little more, and then headed back into town.
Visit Harbour House In Kalk Bay
Would I visit again?
In a heartbeat. The food was exceptional, the service was stunning, and the ambience spectacular. Yes, it is a little on the pricey side so you may only visit for a special occasion, depending on your budget, of course.
But if you’re looking for a casual-chic atmosphere with great food, then you can’t go wrong with Harbour House in Kalk Bay.
All the details below.
Harbour House in Kalk Bay
Address: Kalk Bay Harbour, Kalk Bay
Opening Times: Wednesday – Sunday (12:00 – 23:00)
Call: +27 21 788 4136
Article Date: November 2020
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