When you think of a fisherman, you don’t tend to imagine the likes of Tyler Loomes — 32-year-old, decked in head-to-toe Gucci, with peroxide blonde hair and two full-sleeve tattoos. Which is perhaps why, when you think of a local fish shop, you don’t imagine the likes of Tightline.
The stylish eatery and retail store is complete with sushi bar, cocktail menu and Instagram posts that look like they were pulled from Vogue shoots of the early 2000s — think models in ball gowns perched atop fishing nets holding the catch of the day, others posed behind a plate of oysters heaped with strings of pearls... you get the idea.
Loomes’s brainchild, the restaurant is an expansion of his family’s fisheries business — Tightline Fisheries, which distributes seafood not only throughout KwaZulu-Natal but to the rest of the country too.
The Tightline Salta team uses the fishery’s catches to deliver a stellar seafood and culinary experience — whether you’re planning to eat in or at home.
From the simple to the extravagant, the extensive menu runs the gamut — from a humble battered fish and chips to gourmet sushi and luxurious langoustines — ensuring there’s bound to be something for everyone and every mood.
Begin your meal with a selection of starter plates and sushi. The oysters with their sweet meets tangy mignonette aren’t to be missed, nor is the beetroot-cured salmon gravlax, here served with pickled shimeji mushrooms and a horseradish cream.
The chokka is another highlight, the endemic calamari, prepared in a simple salt and pepper batter is cooked to perfection served with garlic, chilli and spring onion for an added zing.
On the sushi front keep it classic with generous portions of roses, fashion sandwiches and nigiri available with salmon, tuna, prawn or smoked linefish. Otherwise, opt for the Tightline specialties such as the sushi crunch with panko-crumbed crayfish and the Durban crab curry roll with pickled orange crab, kewpie masala, fresh pineapple salad, and sev and nuts.
On to mains and it’s a veritable seafood feast. Go up to the fresh fish counter and select your preferred choice from the day’s catches — be it linefish, prawns, crayfish or even crab.
On the day I visited, the rock cod had just come in, so we opted for a fillet of it cooked on the grill. Beautifully fresh, well-cooked and served with a vibrant chimichurri — you can’t really ask for more.
That is unless you opt for the langoustines, which are no doubt some of the biggest available on the market right now. The extra-large delicacies are flame grilled and served with Tightline’s signature lemon butter sauce.
Accompany your meal with a classic cocktail: think the likes of martinis, negronis and old fashioneds or a glass or two of vino off their concise but well curated wine list — bubbly perhaps the natural choice for this ocean affair.
While seafood is clearly the star of the show, Tightline as an all-day eatery also offers a small breakfast menu, and a dedicated takeaway menu too. The deli allows those looking to enjoy Tightline’s fare at home the opportunity to do so, along with expert advice from the fishmonger and chefs. There’s even a DIY sushi kit should you be up for the challenge.
Tightline is very much an experience that wouldn’t feel out of place among the large format, flashy restaurants of Johannesburg, and it is great to see something of its ilk happening in Durban. Excellent seafood, top notch service and a whole lot of fun to boot.