It’s a hard life when your day includes heading off to a beautifully rebranded Ocean Basket for a lunch tasting of all the latest and greatest concoctions the chefs have devised. The event was held at the Ocean Basket in Dainfern Square. If you haven’t been to that branch, you really should drop in – I couldn’t believe the rebranding! The restaurant is most definitely Instagram-worthy and barely resembles the Ocean Basket you think you know.
The new menu reflects that as well. The team knows that we all fall into a routine, especially at our local fish restaurant. For the longest time, I’ve only ever ordered one of the same 3 items on the menu: Calamari and rice, Prawns and rice, or a combo of both. It arrives in the signature pan and that’s that. Well, now there’s a reason to shake things up a bit! And Ocean Basket has made it easier to do so, even if you have a bit of fear of commitment.
We started our tasting off with some starter platters. These included phenomenal Firecracker Squid, that was spicy without being overwhelming, as well as zucchini fritters and humus. Oh, and some fried mussels. Of course there were also fried prawns and some grilled calamari, but I will have to return just for the zucchini fritters and Firecracker squid combined with the humus. There were other things on that platter, but thankfully Ocean Basket has embraced the Meze (or Tapas) approach. You can order each of the new starters as small plates. Get 3-4 to share with your spouse or friends and get a taste of everything.
Next up, we had the most mindblowing soup. Now, as much as I love soup in general, I have never been a fan of fish soup… And the idea of a creamy snoek soup did not sound appealing to me at all. It was one of the most begrudging mouthfuls I’ve taken in years. I figured I’d try a bite to be polite and then drink more wine and chat to the lovely people around me. Instead, I nearly licked my bowl it was so good. Creamy and seafood-y, but without being overwhelming. It was rich and delicious but not heavy or dense. I seriously could just go back for that soup.
Our entrees included the all new fish cakes, with improved chips and tilapia with sweet potato fries. The tilapia was actually really delicious and perfectly cooked. Plus, with snoek and farmed tilapia on the green list for sustainable fishing, you can eat to your heart’s content without worrying about future generations of food.
Finally, dessert. I’ll be honest, these were too sweet for me. The pear and white chocolate pudding was light and tasty, although I actually preferred the flavor of the toffee nut pie. Still, both were so sweet after all the fish, I didn’t even come close to finishing. I wish they had brought me another bowl of soup at the end instead.
As a general rule, I advocate avoiding chain restaurants and supporting small, local business. However, I might have to break that advice on this one. It is also only half breaking that advice, as Ocean Basket, though now an international chain, was started as a very small local 6-table restaurant in Pretoria.
If you’re near an Ocean Basket, pop in and try the Firecracker squid with a zucchini fritter and some humus. And don’t leave without trying the snoek soup! Then embrace the complete surprise that something you might never otherwise order off the menu is actually your new favourite thing. Plus, it will keep your warm this winter.
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