There’s no better place to enjoy authentic Moules Frites than at Den Anker – a celebrated Belgian eatery and V&A Waterfront stalwart. Having been around almost as long as the waterfront itself, Den Anker automatically comes to mind when recommending a restaurant to visitors.
Perched right at the harbour edge, the eatery’s large windows ensure that scenes of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and the historical Clock Tower dominate the view – in fact, the only detail more distracting than the views is the food. Acclaimed for their Belgian fare, Den Anker’s signature dish has to be their Moules Frites. Similar to the French Moules Marinere, the Belgian version contains no cream – instead the mussels are left to steam in a little wine and their own liquid. Celery is also used in place of onion; a detail that lends the dish a lighter flavour. As the name implies, Moules Frites is also traditionally served with fries instead of bread, with creamy Belgian mayonnaise used as a dip.
As I was lunching at Den Anker so as to sample their recent Perfect Share menu special (unfortunately no longer running), Moules Frites were definitely the order of the day, although after perusing their substantial menu I couldn’t resist ordering a few starters to sample. Before you assume that my eyes are bigger than my appetite (you’d be correct), I’ll mention that I was dining with friend Megan – a fellow food blogger and stylist and who also snapped the pics of me – and so we were perfectly prepared to taste our way through the afternoon.
I’d heard prior to our visit that Den Anker is also known for their croquettes – deep fried and utterly delicious, we had the cheese croquettes – next time I’d like to take advantage of their tapas menu and go for the bitterballen too. Following the croquettes, we shared the Os a Moëlle – roasted marrow bones in all their unctuously fatty glory. Recommended as a starter only to the very hungry (bone marrow is rich!), Megan and myself shared out the buttery marrow, spreading it over soft white bread, salting it and devouring bite after delectable bite. Roasted bone marrow is one of my all-time favourite dishes and I highly recommend Den Anker’s classic take on it; unfussy, without frills and your meal comes with a bib. A much-needed addition when one considers all that glorious fat!
Best served with a authentic Belgian beer or glass of local Sauvignon Blanc, Den Anker’s Moules Frites arrive in a tureen filled to the brim with steaming black mussels. Ideal for sharing, a kilogram of mussels with a dish of crispy shoestring fries eaten seaside must be the grandest of ways to enjoy lunch with a friend. And just in case you have room for dessert, one can’t go wrong with any of Den Anker’s classic Belgian desserts – crepes anyone?