In 2004 decorated journalist, Niël du Bois headed to Mosselbay to trade the pen for the frying pan and opened a little seafood restaurant on the beach. What was supposed to be a humble family restaurant serving good food soon turned into something that would develop a cult following.
De Vette Mossel @ Harties is to dining in Hartebeespoort what a steering wheel is to a Ferrari – nice to look at but useless without it. Its popularity among the locals of the living around the dam is a thing of sheer beauty. The atmosphere is what hits you before the smell of butter, lemon, and snoek sneaks into your nostrils. Ernest Hemingway wrote, “live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual…” and that is perhaps the best way to describe De Vette Mossel @ Harties. The vibe is what De Vette Mossel is all about. From the first hello to the goodbye, and everything in between, this is one of the most accommodating restaurants I’ve ever been to. It is a literal “take your shoes off and dig your toes into the sand” type of place… complete with a shoe rack to hang your tekkies, stilettos, or plakkies from.
The menu? Well, it’s not that simple. It’s more of a buffet style (excluding the average-ness that follows as-much-as-you-can eateries) with nine different items prepared on open fires in front of guests. These items include mussels, snoek with sweet potato, a four-fish gumbo, a beef potjie (if seafood is not your thing), catch of the day, crayfish (which needs to be ordered separately), calamari steaks, watermelon and cantaloupe, and ending off with coffee and koeksisters.
With all of this comes responsibility and Niël du Bois has gone to great lengths to be complaint with the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative’s (SASSI). Except for the crayfish, De Vette Mossel only serves green listed fish at their restaurants.
In closing, De Vette Mossel is Niël du Bois and Niël du Bois is De Vette Mossel. It is a direct reflection of the type of person he is: barefoot, laid back and relaxed. As a friend’s dad would say, “eat a little, drink a little; talk a lot,” and that is exactly what the barefoot owner went for and got.
By Shawn Greyling