Food is Love

The Fireman’s Dinner Date

Fisherman’s Cottage Restaurant, Hermanus

+27 28 312 3642

Marriage is a bit like a google analytics chart – sometimes there’s a peak of interest and sometimes there are other sites which occupy our minds. To me these fluctuations are perfectly normal. If you haven’t been on a dinner date for a while, rekindling that loving feeling with some aphrodisiacal oysters are a good way to start!

My husband Paul and I haven’t been out on a date in a long time, but lately we’ve been making time for each other again and ventured out for dinner to The Fisherman’s Cottage – a small little seafood restaurant, in a small, quirky and cozy, old, Cape Dutch style cottage, a few hundred meters from the harbour and the rolling waves of Walker Bay.

The chef and owner, Anton Verhoogt, is originally from Holland but formally trained in South Africa and it was great to see him pull up in his little white bakkie as we strolled into the warm interior of the restaurant. I’m sure you would agree, having the owner at the establishment almost always guarantees the best night possible!

We like to ask the chef to order for us. This is key, because they know what’s fresh, what’s good, what’s on special, sometimes even what they’d like to sell quickly! A chef that ventures into the front of house has a great vantage point of his guests, and will ask the right questions and, if really gifted, would even be able to guess what a person would like on the menu… an awesome people skill to have. I wish more chef owners would venture out to greet guests before they order instead of after.

We had plates to share: a fantastically rich and smoky veg dish, ‘calamari bangers,’ which were squid tubes stuffed with pork, and we got our oyster fix in a form I’ve never seen before: chopped fresh oyster served on beef steak tartare, served inside an empty abalone shell. This dish was a standout! The fresh sea flavour of the oyster went perfectly with the cool, metallic flavour of the beef fillet tartare, helped along with a creamy homemade aioli, all washed down perfectly with a Brut sparkling wine. Chef Anton’s dishes have palate pleasing in mind, the plating is clean and pretty and the food delivers loads of flavour.

As the evening progressed, my date, who was knocking back tequilas with the chef, chatted away while I mused about what story I would write about this night. Then, just outside the windows and across the road I saw a big, burly man, huddled in his jacket, walking on the cobblestones toward the Bluebuck Bar. I recognized him from his spiky blonde hair and 80s Dolf Lundgren look: the town’s fire chief.

I watched as a bucket of beers was placed in front of him as he sat staring out into the night. He started knocking them back at an alarming rate. I studied his face: weather beaten, red nosed, forehead wrinkled. The area had had a record number of fires that year, I could only imagine what more stories he could share that his face wasn’t already telling.

I checked on my date: blah blah blah, the conversation between him and the owner was not thrilling enough for me so I refocused on Dolf. In between sips, it seemed his mouth was moving: was he talking to himself? His brow furrowed and he swayed his head from side to side and then all at once he would grab his beer and glug it down and then start talking again. I sat transfixed on this spectacle wandering if he was going to do something crazy. As the wind changed direction, the sounds from the bar travelled to my ears. You could just make out the sound of ABBA’s ‘Super Trooper’ floating in… It dawned on me that he was singing along to the song! I burst out laughing.

What’s up? Said Paul, all of a sudden interested in me again.

Nothing. I said. Was just enjoying my date with the fireman…

One thought on “The Fireman’s Dinner Date

  1. No sneaky pics of the fireman? I’m intrigued: Did he finish the entire bucket, and/or order any food? Why was he alone? Was the sing-along jovial or melancholic? So many questions…. Methinks this date needs a sequel 😉


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