Within the cacophony of the Mojo Market’s small scale commerce and colour is the Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar, a bustling little enterprise whose name pretty much nails exactly what it is they’re all about: black mussels and oysters, farmed in the ocean at Saldanah Bay on South Africa’s West Coast.
This eatery, which is located towards the rear of the food market (with a direct view of the live performance stage), essentially consists of a long bar manned by smiling staff who shuck, deep-fry, plate, and pour wine with the nimblest of fingers. You can’t really miss it: look for the enormous oyster shell light feature hanging from the ceiling!
Having just been renovated and full expanded, the Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar is bigger, more accessible, and way more beautiful, and so we attended the launch to see what the shuck all the ruckus is about!
What’s on the menu?
The food philosophy at the Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar is simple: they are specialists and so their menu is short, sweet, and simple. What they do, they do extraordinarily well. Moreover, they interfere minimally with the product, instead allowing its inherent qualities to take centre stage, which means that everything they plate is incredibly fresh and of highest quality.
“We have the best produce in the world, it’s high time the world knows about it, and that Cape Town becomes a world-renowned capital for oysters and mussels,” says Kyle Dods, the ridiculously handsome and tall seafood connoisseur behind the enterprise.
In fact, the oysters are so fresh that eating one is like being smacked in the chops by an Atlantic Ocean wave, with a squeeze of lemon and dash of (green) Tabasco sauce, thank you! The mussels are equally fresh and of a superlative grade, served steamed in a garlic, buttery leek and white wine sauce and with the most delicious baby “vetkoek” dumplings to mop up the sauce.
The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar also serves oyster “sampler shots” (an ice-cold oyster with geranium syrup and a hint of citrus gin and lime) and absolutely delicious tempura style mussels, but you’ll have to ask for the latter as it doesn’t yet appear on the menu.
You can order a plate of six large oysters for R129 (or R23 a piece), a half-kilogram or kilogram of cooked mussels for R90 and R160 respectively. You can even purchase a kilogram of fresh, uncooked mussels to take home with you to prepare yourself (R60).
Tell me where in this city you can eat so much quality shellfish for that little money?
Wine, glorious wine
Oysters, mussels, and wine – white wine and sparkling wine in particular – are the very best of friends and so, to round out their offering in the most pleasing way, the Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar have curated a very simple but excellent wine list. On it, you’ll find such lovely specimens from the Cape Winelands as Villiera Tradition Brut and Rosé Méthode Cap Classiques (MCC), De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay, and Ashbourne Sauvignon Blanc / Chardonnay.
I’ll have the oysters with a side of mussels, please!
The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar do mussels and oysters so incredibly well that there’s no need to feature anything else on the menu! And with a focus on serving beautiful, fresh produce, prepared simply and honestly, a meal here is a fantastic way to conclude a perusal around the vibey Sea Point’s Mojo Market.
You’re also pretty much guaranteed to test whether or not you have a shellfish allergy and since I don’t, I sank my weight in slippery sweet oysters, rich mussels, and crisp and fluffy vetkoek!
The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar is open Monday to Sunday, 10:30 to 22:00
For bookings and enquiries, please email email@example.com or call 065 833 8593 (Sea Point). They also have a branch at the corner of Annandale and the R44 in Stellenbosch (+27 65 833 9335)