Louise Castle’s Bellagio has been situated in the modern Blubird shopping centre for some years now, and on my return I was happy to see how well it is ageing. Still an elegant and refreshing space, the tones of wood and wicker are matched to striped blue fabrics for a seaside atmosphere, plus the many oversized wooden fish make it even more clear that this is a seafood eatery. There are not many places that manage to pull of relaxed with a sense of style – this is one of them.
Fresh flowers on every table is a welcome touch and though tables are cheek by jowl there is a very serene feel to the whole. The balcony offers the most popular seating and with the green leafed branches of weeping willow trees to soften the views, the outside-in design adds to the calming personality the restaurant has. A bar seems mostly decorative and features many good labels, customers can also sit at a teppanyaki bar or watch the sushi being prepared.
More to like: wines from a small but well-selected list are served in carafes and the service is sure. You can choose from the specials on the blackboard or from the extensive menu that leads with seafood and presents salmon in as many variations as I have seen anywhere. As you’d expect, there is a very diverse sushi and sashimi list, but the menu also offers many pasta dishes and grills. Other fun and homely options include the (I am told) very popular fish pie and the fish and chips.
I found the sushi to be of decent quality, the rice firm and not the soft mush of so many local pretenders, the fish very fresh. A side of tempura proved that their battering skills were also sound. So I chose the beer-battered hake as my main at R75 for the fish and a side, with a bowl of very delicious house-made tartare sauce. I added the vegetables and ratatouille as my side since my first choice, green beans with almonds, was not available – as you can tell there are delightfully fresh and healthy options.
The fish was presented with a fish knife, a retro touch that I quite liked, and the fish was very well cooked, the batter crisp and the fish moist. I finished with a berry millefeuille from a very safe selection that also included crème brulée, chocolate fondant and cheesecake – it was decent, light and crunchy layers of pastry, acidic berries offering counterpoint, if a little too creamy.
In all, one of the city’s best places for seafood in an enjoyable space.
For: Relaxed but upmarket, good seafood
Against: Menu may be a little too varied