Ocean Basket Summer menu (Supplied)
Ocean Basket Summer menu (Supplied)

  • Ocean Basket launched their summer menu and it includes a seabream fish, complete with its head, eyes, and teeth.
  • Our tasters tried both the grilled and deep-fried offering, and they liked the grilled version more.
  • The whole fish has not been served by the brand for over two decades, and they ran out of the season's supply in just three weeks.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za

Ocean basket launched its summer menu which includes the introduction of seabream fish – complete with the head, eyes, and teeth – and the season's supply sold out in the first three week.

Grilled seabream (Supplied)
Grilled seabream (Supplied)

The summer menu includes the seabream which is served whole, and customers can choose between the deep fried or grilled version.

The grilled seabream is served with orange and caper sauce, while the fried option comes with red pepper mayo. Both dishes come with a side of chips or grilled vegetables, or a salad and each go for R155.  

Ocean Basket Summer menu (Supplied)
Ocean Basket Summer menu (Supplied)

Patrons with a big appetite can go for a bigger dish - the seabream platter for one. It retails at R235.

Seabream platter for one (Ocean Basket)
Seabream platter for one (Ocean Basket)

Whole fish is no stranger to Ocean Basket as the brand offered the option in the early 90s, but only as a special. The restaurant chain was never able to put it on the menu because they could not guarantee a consistent supply.

"As we grew larger it became more difficult to predict volumes on scale and so whole fish eventually fell away," said Head of Strategy, Marketing & Menu at Ocean Basket Holdings Jean Sloane.

Ocean Basket's ten restaurants in Cyprus, however, have been serving seabream thanks to the consistent supply in the Mediterranean, "and they were doing really well so we decided to try it," said Sloane.

With little expectation of how well the dish would do, the brand sold out their entire season's stock in just under three weeks. The company has since found another source to procure from.

We tried it – Here's what we think

Deep fried

The deep-fried seabream looks quite dry, as deep-fried fish should. It is crunchy on the outside but soft and fresh on the inside.

Ocean Basket deep friend seabream
Ocean Basket deep fried seabream (Business Insider/ Phumi Ramalepe)

"I like the skin," said one taster. "It gets really nice and crispy but the inside is really soft and fluffy still. I think they cooked it very well."

Deep fried seabream (Supplied)
Deep fried seabream (Supplied)

The taster, who gravitated more towards the fried offering said the two different textures stood out for her, but she "would have loved the red paste to come through a bit more."  

Two of our other tasters thought "the fried one is okay, but not as juicy" as its grilled counterpart.

Grilled

The grilled seabream, which looked fresher, and more filling was definitely a favourite.  

Grilled Seabream
Grilled Seabream (Supplied)

"Definitely grilled takes the cup because it's got a healthier approach to lifestyle, and it tastes so much better," said one taster.

Although she loved it, she thinks it would have been even better if it was a little spicier.

"I like spicy food. I've got tabasco here, so I was just putting a little bit on almost everything,"

Our other taster said he would have preferred a little bit more salt as well, otherwise "chef's kiss," he signalled.

What do we think about the head?

One taster thought that although the fish "tastes fresh, like the ocean" he would have preferred if customers got the option to choose whether they want it with the head or not.

Fried seabream head ( Business Insider Phumi Ramal
Fried seabream head ( Business Insider / Phumi Ramalepe)

"It has eyes and teeth and not a lot of people would be happy about that," he said.

After he opened the mouth of the fish and exposed the teeth, our other taster was a little freaked out. "I wouldn't want to see that in my food," she giggled.

Another taster seemed to like the eyes, though. He compared the juiciness and taste to that of the bone marrow of other animals.

Verdict

The grilled fish gets a nine out of 10. "10 is excellent, and you know there's always room for improvement. I would be saying they can't improve, and they definitely can improve," agreed two tasters.  

The fried dish got a five. "Apart from the fried face looking strange, the grilled fish just tasted so much better, and much fresher," said one taser.

Even after tasting the new dish, our other participant said she still prefers her salmon over fried seabream.

 

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