De Vette Mossel is a restaurant like no other. Don’t expect starched table cloths and crystal glasses – or even crockery and cutlery. At De Vette Mossel Beach Seafood Restaurants you dine in true beach fashion, as the owners believe that the only way to enjoy seafood is with the sand under your feet – and who needs knives and forks if a mussel shell works just as well.

Grootbrak, Hartenbos and Parys each have a De Vette Mossel. And now, so does Hermanus. Located on the edge of the Klein River Estuary at Prawn Flats, Gustave and Charné du Bois welcomed guests at their soft opening last week.

The “restaurant” is a rustic structure covered with a tented roof and fitted with windows on the sea-side that can be opened or closed depending on the strength of the breeze. The other side is open and affords diners full view of the ­ re pit where all the seafood is prepared over open flames.

On the menu were nine courses that started with mussels, followed by snoek and patats (sweet potato), a seafood potjie, a meat potjie, catch of the day, cray­fish and prawns, calamari steak, melon and watermelon, and coffee and koeksisters.

The abundance was quite overwhelming, warranting a friendly warning from Gustave’s father, Niël du Bois, the founder of De Vette Mossel. “Remember to pace yourselves,” he cautioned his guests. “The idea is that you eat only enough to leave room for the next course of our rolling, nine-course buffet – that way you will get to taste a bit of everything.”

Unsurprisingly, your dining experience at De Vette Mossel can last up to three hours. It is more of a seafood orgy than a normal restaurant meal. And I haven’t even mentioned the freshly-baked potbrood, which Niël described as the Jezebel of De Vette Mossel – and the main culprit when it comes to not making it through the whole menu. “Remember that you are here for seafood, not bread,” he chuckled.

Suffice it to say that the only way to tackle your De Vette Mossel experience is to come hungry. Very hungry. Whereas at ­first I had thought that we were going to choose two (or maybe three) dishes from the menu, it turned out that we were going to be served everything! No orders are placed and no bill is presented at the end of your meal; you pay a set price and then eat as much as you like – or can!

De Vette Mossel Hermanus has no bar and you take your own drinks along – with glasses and ice. You are welcome to take a whole cooler box as they don’t charge any corkage. It’s as informal an a‑ air as visiting friends for a braai – except that the food is better and more abundant than anything your friends have ever dished up.

Booking is essential and can be done online for either an afternoon (12:00 – 15:00) or an evening session (18:30 – 24:00). Visit www. devettemosselhermanus.co.za to book and pay, or call 064 552 6627

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