While you’ve been sipping on cocktails, Harbour House Group (HHG) has been quietly taking over the world one restaurant at a time. If you are not aware, Harbour House Group consists of not only the Harbour House restaurants but also La Parada, Tiger’s Milk, Easy Tiger, Lucky Fish, Live Bait, Sirocco and as of recently Charango and Grand Beach.
You would have seen Easy Tiger burger restaurants popping up all over Cape Town, but you might not know they are also opening in other cities around the country. I don’t know how many actual venues are under HHG control in total, but it’s a lot. As I said, they are taking over the world! If you really want to know the details, you can find out more at the Harbour House Group website.
HHG recently acquiring a majority shareholding in Grand Beach and invested nearly R10m in giving it a revamp. I was invited to Grand Beach for lunch to experience the revamped venue and new menu. As I walked in I could tell straight away that the changes were not only significant but also well considered. In fact, things were already looking up as I drove in because the parking lot has been tarred which makes it a lot easier to look elegant as you make your ‘grand entrance’. Also the traffic cones in the parking lot have been painted gold instead of the usual orange/red and that’s the first indication that this is going to be a next level experience.
Did you get my ‘grand entrance’ joke above? Flippen clever! Talking about the entrance, it’s been moved so that as you walk in you are confronted with the view of the sea and beach with palm trees, a giant mirror ball, couches and a red couch in the shape of lips. I say the view confronts you because it’s not possible to walk in and ignore that view, it demands your attention and your appreciation. If you’re struggling to image that scene I described above, just look at the picture below. To the right of the attention-seeking mirror ball are the dining tables you would have seen at the Grand Beach before, but to the left is a new section of high tables for those wishing to just have a drink from the enormous new bar on that side and enjoy the tunes laid down by the live DJ. You can order drinks and food from waiters that side, or you can just get drinks from the bar yourself.
If you choose to turn right instead of left, you will walk into what was the gallery and boutique shop. It is now table seating and a gin bar which you can utilise either from the lounge area inside or from the lounge area outside which will serve as a waiting area for those needing a table. I would recommend booking in advance because this place is going to be crazy busy this summer, but it does seat up to 1,000 people so the wait for a table shouldn’t be too long! In case you’re wondering, no the boutique store is not completely gone, it has moved into the new section which was built where the old entrance was which will be on the immediate left as you walk into the main entrance.
The main area inside has always been impressive, with the modern decor elements set against the stark industrial look of the original warehouse. It just looks even better now with the bar jazzed and a few more elements added. I can’t wait to see it at night, it’s going to look amazing! Going out the main area onto the beach, the sight of tables and chairs on the sand never ceases to be cool. Newly added is the long bar down the right hand side. We had lunch out here, on the beach. The menu has expanded to incorporate some new dishes but still keeping the favourites from the old menu. You’ll recognise some of the popular dishes from Harbour House which is not a bad thing as they know how to do them well. To be honest, the food was a bit hit and miss on the day I went. My prawns weren’t great but the person next to me had nice prawns. The burger wasn’t great but the calamari was very nice. It’s early days, so hopefully with a bit of time they will get it right.
And that’s it, R10m doesn’t get you much these days! Just kidding, it’s a major upgrade and I will definitely be spending a lot of time there. Come say hi, cocktails on you 🙂
You can see all my pics of the new Grand Beach here.
The other major project that has been keeping HHG very busy (and a little stressed) is the Constantia Nek development. This development has been the talk of the town. It’s such a prime location, very accessible with great views and plenty of parking. The old buildings are also full of character, which is part of the problem as heritage considerations slowed down development. But I think you’ll be pleased with the results, I know I was.
There is both a La Parada and a Harbour House at Constantia Nek, so you can go for a fun, casual vibe or a more sophisticated dining vibe. I was invited to see what HHG had done with the venue so we decided to experience both offerings by having a drink and a starter at La Parada then mains and dessert next door at Harbour House.
La Parada has plenty of seating inside and outside. One inside section is in the bar area and the other section opens up onto the deck so for those who don’t want to sit outside for some reason, you get the best of both worlds in this section. Total seating for about 250 if I recall correctly, that’s a whole lot of hospitality. We opted to sit outside because it was a beautiful day. The nice thing about La Parada Constania Nek is that it is set back from the road so even though you can see cars streaming around the traffic circle, you don’t really hear them.
The menu is the same as La Parada in Bree Street, so if you’ve been there you will know what to expect. The croquettes are always a winner and the calamari is superb. I tried the charred octopus salad for a change but I’m not sure I would order it again. The beetroot cured salmon was a lovely fresh dish, perfect for summer. This is not a La Parada review so I’m not going into detail about the food. What you need to know is that it was thoroughly pleasant sitting outside in the sunshine at Constantia Nek. I would definitely not pass up an opportunity to do that again. They tell me that DJ Rene performs there on Sunday afternoons and that it’s very festive. I can imagine it would be, I hope to enjoy that vibe soon. I need to check what time the festivities start as it could be a good warm-up option for the Kirstenbosch concerts?
Another thing worth knowing about La Parada Constantia Nek is that they also serve breakfast. From 9am you can enjoy an interesting Spanish inspired breakfast menu.
After we finished our cocktails and tapas we wandered next door to Harbour House.
For the menu and more details, visit the La Parada website.
With the other two Harbour Houses being at Kalk Bay and The Waterfront, this is officially the first Harbour House that is not in a harbour. But that doesn’t mean it lacks views. Being up on Constania Nek means it has views over the valley and that side of the restaurant is all glass so you can enjoy the view.
The alternative view is really the only difference, you’ll recognise everything else from the decor elements to the menu. The chalkboard with the specials is also there. If you’ve not eaten at Harbour House before, let me make some recommendations. For starters, the fish soup is amazing, as is the masala dusted calamari (which you can opt to have as a main if you’re a huge fan of calamari). For mains I usually select one of the fresh line-fish dishes from the blackboard. For dessert you can’t go wrong with the New York style baked cheesecake. But do share it with someone, it’s a significant portion.
The only problem with Harbour House Constantia Nek is the acoustics. Sound is definitely a problem. It was loud when we were there and it was only half full. They have told me they are aware of it and are trialling options to solve it but are hampered by what they can and can’t do due to heritage restrictions. It’s possible they have already solved the problem by now. But I haven’t heard anything (LOL, see what I did there?!).
Harbour House Constantia Nek certainly brings a sophisticated, seafood focused offering to the valley and I think it will be well supported. It’s a reliable menu in a stylish environment and I’ve always had great service at all of the Harbour Houses.
The interior pics are the official photos by Micky Hoyle because they are much better than mine. You can see all my photos of my visit to La Parada and Harbour House Constantia Nek here.
To see the menu and more, visit the Harbour House website.
So there you have it. Harbour House Group has definitely pimped our summer. Whether you’re on the Atlantic Seaboard or in the Southern Suburbs, there are fun times waiting for you at one of these two destinations. I had a taste of it when I visited them and I’m ready for more. In fact, I have a table for 10 booked at Grand Beach for lunch this Friday! See you there… #SummerVibes