It was a few years ago when I first read about Cape Town Fish Market but at the time it did not appeal to me. However, after so long since reading the review about the restaurant I have finally made a visit. It was after work on a cold evening looking for a place to fill our stomach. The restaurant we had planned to go was busy so we decided to go else where nearby, and this is where we came past Cape Town Fish Market.
The restaurant is located on one of the side street in the heart of Oxford Circus. It is only 1 minute walk away from Liberty department store and right next to the London Palladium Theatre which once was showing the Sound of Music.
As the name gives it away the restaurant specialise in fish, so it is no surprising that the menu contains a range of seafood dishes. But a menu then bring a sense of confusion since Cape Town give the first impression of South African cuisines that specialise in seafood. Instead you scan through the menu to see sushi, tempura, egg noodle, spring rolls, bento box, fish & chips, surf & turf, fish cakes etc. All relating to the relevant of Japanese, Chinese and British cuisines. But on the menu there is tradition South African curry that state is served in a three-legged cast iron pot.
The restaurant have a sushi conveyor belt that are surrounded by dining tables. Then downstairs is the teppenyaki area also surrounded by more dinning tables. But the overall atmosphere and decoration did not feel very oriental, instead a glowing blue gave that feel of under the sea. But with the mix of cuisines it did not even gave me fusion but a sense of confusion on how to category the restaurant.
We were sitting on the dining table which if I tried to ignore the conveyor belt and the bottles of soya sauce on the table then I felt I was dining British cuisines specialising in seafood.
You can order dishes from the a la carte menu or from the set menus. There are 2 set menus which both have the choice of creating a 2 or 3 course meal.
For both set menus you have the same choice of starters that includes either one of the following – Prawn Tempura, Calamari Strips, Sushi Board, Vegetable Spring Rolls or Chicken Spring Rolls. Also the same choices between the two set menus is the dessert which includes choice of any one of the following – Belgian Waffles, Chocolate Brownies, Milk Tart, Creme Brulee, Ice cream & Hot Choc Sauce. The difference between the two set menus is the main course and of course the price different were set menu 1 is priced at £13.05/£16.95 and set menu 2 priced at £17.95/£20.95.
We decided to go for set menu 1 and went for the full 3 courses.
For the starters we order one with the Sushi Board which contained salmon/tuna sashimi and prawn and sweet tofu nigiri.
However I decided to try the prawn tempura which came with a sweet chilli sauce dipping. I have to say that it was a disappointment as the standard is not Japanese quality. The prawn was coated in a thick batter that did not have that light texture you expect.
For the main there are a range of choices including the fish and chips and this was much better then the starters. It was a nice piece of fish that still had its juice, but one word of caution is the tiny fish bones hidden in the fish.
I went for the 110g sea bass with baby potatoes. It was a pan-fried fish and one beautiful sea bass, that was cooked but not over cooked. I am not sure how big or thick a 110 g sea bass is but I remember my first glance at the plate it did seem small which made me wondering if it would fill me up. But to my surprise it actually did which I assume because of the pile of baby potatoes that was served with the fish.
We finish our meal with a dessert each and from the choice we went for one set menu with the Creme Brulee.
Then the other with the milk tart which I favoured over the creme brulee. The milk tart actually looked liked a cheesecake but it’s actually a set creamy milk sitting on a biscuit base dusted with cinnamon powder. It’s the cinnamon that give most of the flavour as milk on its own is rather a flat flavour. Quite a nice dessert that is sweet but not too sweet.
Overall it was a pleasant dinner but the standard of the food was not good for every dish we had, such as our prawn tempura. However the fish we had was beautiful and the milk tart was nice alternative to cheesecake since it is lighter. In terms of service it was good and nothing stand out that night to say it was not.
Cape Town Fish Market is a nice place to go for seafood but in applying it to various cuisines just give a sense of confusion. There was time when I felt that I was in a Japanese restaurant with the sushi and the sushi bar, but then at the same time I felt I was in a British seafood restaurant. In saying all these where was the Cape Town?!
I would not rule out not to visit Cape Town Fish Market again because it nice to be able to see a seafood specialist restaurant in London, as I have not yet encountered many of these yet. Also I caught my eyes on the Hout Bay platter that contain lobster, prawn, mussels, fish, and calamari at the price of £53.75 which on the menu state to serve two. That is a big price mark but with all that seafood it could be worth it especially for fresh seafood.
Cape Town Fish Market
5-6 Argyll St, London W1F 7TE
020 7437 1143