Guys. I’m in love. Like a deep, soul crushing love. Sorry Tim, it’s not you this time (still love you the most though). Harbour House / La Parada is the latest addition to the Constantia Nek restaurant strip, and the latest addition to my list of obsessions. This place is just… wow. Everything I look for in a dining experience, this place ticks all my discerning boxes.
Dividing Cape Town’s oldest restaurant into two established businesses in one, Harbour House and La Parada are an unlikely pair, nestled in the iconic Constantiaberg mountains. The clean, sophisticated palates of Harbour House and the bustling, cheeky Spanish allure of La Parada are at first odd neighbours, but having experienced it now, I get it.Chef Martin Senekal knows his stuff. I’ve had the best seafood of my life at the V&A Waterfront’s Harbour House, and the best cocktail of my life (the raspberry coconut cosmopolitan is orgasmic) at La Parada on Bree Street, so having these two join forces? Yes, please!
Tim and I had dinner at Harbour House so we’ll need to go back and try the new La Parada next time, but we did sit down there while waiting for our table and it sure is a vibey place! Loud, fun and energetic, this is definitely the new place for a relaxed wind-down in the Southern Suburbs. To experience both, my feeling is that one would stop by La Parada first, as we did, for a sundowner and some tapas to whet the appetite, and then head over to Harbour House for dinner.
Understated and elegant, from its white washed walls and tables, exposed rafters, stone pillars and blonde wood chairs to it’s unparalleled view, the feeling you have here is one of complete serenity. Harbour House just gets it right. The attention to detail is evident, from the old school encyclopedia illustrations in the menus, to the windows overlooking a quaint herb garden, everything here matters. The decor doesn’t diminish into the background, but it’s subtlety is a quiet, knowing nod to the gastronomic explosion of flavours that will capture your attention as soon as they reach your plate. HH has outdone itself – THIS was the best seafood of my life, and I don’t say that flippantly.
As Online Ed at HL, I was fortunate enough to experience some of the country’s best restaurants and eateries, sampling the best of the best. More often than not, gourmet cuisine tries too hard – getting the perfect right angle on your amuse bouche, combining hundreds of elements and tastes for an overall mouthfeel – and sometimes it’s just the simple, back-to-basics yet beautiful foods we’re hankering for. HH sure does nail the gourmet side, but it also understands generous portions and remaining true to the purity of its ingredients.
Alongside a divine bottle of Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir / Chardonnay (my fave), we shared for starters the Marinated Seafood Ceviche that includes a light salad of marinated fresh line fish, prawns, calamari and mussels and a special menu item of Tempura Prawns with avocado, recommended to us by our wonderful waiter Darlington. Neither Tim nor I had ever had raw prawns, mussels or calamari but it’s a revelation! We love a good ceviche of line fish but this was next level. So fresh, so succulent, so tender. We could’ve had a giant bowl of both and been happy, but then came mains…
Tim begged me to have the ‘best Kingklip’ he’s ever had, which he ordered again this time around, but I had my eye on the Salmon and boy, was I right! After quite a wait (it was busy, but that not busy…) our dishes arrived. Tim’s Kingklip was downright delicious – no contest – but the Salmon is something that I’m still dreaming and drooling about. Tender, cooked to perfection (medium rare) and indulgently crispy on the skin, this dish is HUGE. A giant wheel of the creamiest herb mash, basil pesto and green beans complete this enormously generous dish, but you really can never have enough. I mean, I need this recipe like my life depends on it. We were just about ready to pop but still we soldiered on and ordered dessert (obvs).
Usually we share a dessert, or rather I eat the dessert and Tim allows himself only a spoonful (shame). This time we each had our own (!!!) Yoghurt Amaretto infused Panna Cotta that sits in a divine, warm berry soup. OH MY GOODNESS. With barely any space left to breathe, we licked the bowls clean.
All I can say is Harbour House on the Nek is my new favourite. I can’t fault it (aside from maybe the slow-ish but otherwise impeccable service). The meal is still the best meal of my life from all fronts – from starters to mains and desserts – it was exceptional. Now I can’t wait to try out the La Parada side!
For more information and for bookings: Constantia Nek
Images (interiors and exteriors) – Micky Hoyle