“This is not your average fine dining experience,” announces the disarming Gustave du Bois as his guests get ready to tuck into the first round of delectable seafood served up at this beach restaurant on the edge of the Klein River estuary at Prawn Flats. “Hier werk dinge ‘n bietjie anders.”
Those who don’t understand Afrikaans had better take someone along who does, as you would not want to miss out on his most entertaining brand of local humour and Gustave, whose family hails from the West Coast, says they only speak English in cases of “severe emergency or self-defense”.
It is safe to say that De Vette Mossel is a restaurant like no other. Don’t expect starched tablecloths and crystal glasses – or even much in the line of crockery and cutlery. At De Vette Mossel Beach Seafood Restaurants (yes, Groot Brak near Mossel Bay, Parys and Hartbeespoort Dam each have one) 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.
It’s an informal and no-fuss set-up, encouraging diners to kick back and relax. 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 fire pit where all the seafood is prepared over open flames.
The venue is a paradise for children, with lots of space to run around and explore, and a most imaginative jungle gym that will keep them occupied for hours. Even a trip up to the bathrooms via wooden walkways is an adventure – whether you need to “go” or not, don’t leave without checking it out! Humorous signs are posted along the way to ensure you don’t lose your way.
On the menu are seven courses, starting with mussels served two ways, followed by snoek and patats (sweet potato), a seafood potjie served with rice, vegetables and salad, and then a meat potjie (for those who are not that crazy about seafood), fresh melon and watermelon, and finally coffee and delicious koeksisters. For those with a humongous appetite for seafood, additional options include catch of the day, calamari steak, prawns and West Coast lobster.
Suffice it to say that the only way to tackle your De Vette Mossel experience is to come hungry. Very hungry. The abundance is quite overwhelming, warranting a friendly warning from Gustave: “Remember to pace yourselves – 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 Gustave describes 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 chuckles.
And yes, the rumours are true: for a set price of R260 per person you can eat as much as you like! No orders are placed and no bill is presented at the end of your meal; the bread (with butter and apricot jam, West Coast-style) and mussel starters are brought to the table in enamel plates and after that you help yourself to what Gustave calls a “rolling buffet” of dishes.
Two years after its opening, De Vette Mossel has proven to be a great asset to Hermanus and its owners, Gustave and his equally charming wife, Charné have succeeded in creating a quirky, unpretentious and family-friendly venue that offers quality seafood at great value for money. All their staff members were unemployed before the Du Bois’ took them in and trained them; they are now an integral part of the De Vette Mossel family.
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.