You could drive straight past Saltwater Grill in Pinelands daily and wonder what the food is all about, it is very accessibly situated in the busy suburb, a short stray off the N1 Highway. After dining at the restaurant, where fresh seafood is their claim to fame, I can most certainly describe it as the buddy you always want to visit.
The guy that knows how to cook, always puts on a good show with the food and has the freshest ingredients in his fridge – waiting for visitors to pop in so he can show off his kitchen prowess. The guy that doesn’t live too far and you almost always find an excuse to visit, just for the good food show.
Great food in Cape Town is a dime a dollar, but great seafood is tricky. This is exactly why this find in Pinelands is welcome and a gastronomical experience you don’t want to go without.
The restaurant outlay is small, but keep your eye on the prize, you’re here for the big flavours. A typical urban spread of table and chairs with intimate lighting and an outside area that spills onto the road – great for an afternoon of drinks and scrumptious food with loud friends.
The menu is focused on seafood – drenched in delicious sauces, and the hero ingredient in pastas, starters, salads, paellas and mix-it-up platters – the meat-eater has also been kindly catered for with steaks and burgers.
Starters ranger from homemade fish cakes to tuna tataki, salt and pepper calamari and prawn kebabs. A tasting plate of starters allowed me to understand the flavour profiles. The tuna tataki was my favourite, I am all about succulent lashings of tuna dripping in asian-nuances.
When it comes to seafood there is no hiding the freshness, especially tuna, which in it’s purest form on a plate could be mistaken for steak. I am pleased to deliver a verdict of ultimate freshness.
If you’re looking for something more traditional please try the crispy calamari tentacles. I never order them, I am not a huge fan, but that’s change since. It packs a perfect taste and crunch, and is paired with an authentic tartar sauce made on the premises.
After hearing the words homemade pasta, my main course was settled on almost immediately. If you’ve had homemade pasta done right, your life will be revolutionised.
The royal creamy prawn tagliatelle, is fresh out-the-ocean plump prawns soaked in a decadent white wine and parmesan cream sauce. It was rich and filling, and deserved an applause. The pasta is a true reflection of the kitchen’s talent, it was silky and al dente. The portions are quite sizable as well, which meant I could get a doggy bag and enjoy it more than once.
Other mains include a Spanish seafood stew which is highly recommended, and paella too. I had a taste of the Thai mixed seafood curry, the flavours were all present and accounted for, it just needed more chili to push it over to gorgeous.
The main menu, as I said earlier, is extensive and leaves you wanting everything – which is why more than one trip is highly recommended.
For a sweet ending I ordered the Belgian chocolate and almond tart, which was the winning dessert at the table. The base is made of biscuit and it crumbled gently with the prod of the fork. The Belgian chocolate and almond balance out an overpowering sweetness. It is the one to try.
Other desserts include a mud pie, panna cotta and cheesecake. The wine collection is as impressive as the main menu and has been well-curated from local farms.
It is an unexpected surprise to find a restaurant that serves up great seafood in a residential area, it is a huge bonus that for many in the area it is within walking distance.
My best advice would be to visit that good buddy around the corner, he is waiting to entertain you with great food and a memorable dessert too!
Contact: 081 558 6450
Address: Shop G39, Howard Centre, Cnr Forest & Howard Drive, Pinelands, Cape Town
Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 9.30pm
Pictures: Samantha Pinto