Restaurant Review – Ocean Basket Melville

Next in the Amateur Restaurant Reviews is the Ocean Basket in Melville Johannesburg. Now those who know me, know that I generally don’t have a high regard for their fare; and having sampled the offerings of about 12 branches, I feel my opinions have some credibility.

The wrong thing to do when an Ocean Basket is suggested by one’s better friends, is to make heaving noises and offer to take them to the local army mess by way of an improvement. But these friends are good enough to accept my apology of tactlessness and we understand that it was convenience more than anything that resulted in our choice.

To me, the least offensive thing about Ocean Basket is their advertising campaigns. Punny references about sole providers, I assume, are intended to create a feeling of bonhomie amongst the patrons as they masticate on their over-spiced calamari   It comes a very poor second to the humour and general quality of the Nando’s ads. The difference, of course, is that Nando’s delivers great fast food.

After being greeted and seated by our friendly waitress, she wrote down our order and promptly forgot our salad starters. No surprises there, so we cancelled the starter and went on to our main courses.

The basket of bread – to keep your hands busy while the main courses are being prepared – was, I must say, delicious. I feel I should have just asked for half a loaf of bread, their garlic and chilli oils and told her to forget the rest.

Arrival of the main courses in the Ocean Basket’s inimitable frying pans made me want to invite their chefs to tell me the difference between fried and grilled, because my grilled Kinglip and Calamari (with chips – R99) was soggy with oil and bore no resemblance to a piece of grilled Kinglip that I do at home.

Another thing that concerns me about Ocean Basket chefs; and that is I don’t think many of them understand the definition of the term ‘Fillet’. Well, if there are any of them reading this (or getting someone to read it for them). Then allow me to help. A fillet is ‘a strip or compact piece of boneless meat or fish’. I would like the word BONELESS to spring out and smite you between the eyes – mainly because it is illegal for ME to smite you when my first mouthful necessitated the removal of no less than four small bones. On a previous occasion while grappling with a sole, it was so bad, I sent it back with a message to the chef to learn how to correctly clean the fish.

The calamari and chips were nothing to write home about, so I won’t. Fortunately the most agreeable company kept the conversation and jokes flowing, and helped to lessen the meal’s disappointment. The outside temperature prompted us to order hot chocolate drinks, and this is where the Ocean Basket accountants shine, because they purchase arguably the lowest grade drinking chocolate and put it on the menu at R12 per mug. How their chefs must cringe. I was so appalled that when I arrived home, I tasted a spoonful of Cadbury’s drinking chocolate – a world of difference.

So, in summary. The Ocean Basket Melville is no different from the other OB outlets that have helped me form my opinion over the years.

Category # out of 10 Notable Points
Perceived target market * Family restaurant – However, I feel customer throughput is more important than quality of fare
Date & Time of visit * 14 July – 20:15
Welcome/greeting 6 It was good to come in out of the cold to a warm greeting
Manager visible? 8 Yes. He even came round during the meal to see if everything was okay. But I don’t think he had his finger on the quality control.
Quality of staff 5 Nod bad, but need to take the step from good to great
Ambiance 5 Normally vibrant, but very quiet on the night – about 30% full
Table appearance 4 Uniquely Ocean Basket. Printed table covers and wooden blocks. Not as clean as I’d have liked it.
Menu variety & flexibility 4 It’s a fish shop, other dishes are limited although I expect they would go to some effort to accommodate variations.
Cleanliness 4 This is something OB can definitely concentrate on.
Service 6 While the waitrons were friendly and courteous, you DON’T forget a course, especially if you wrote it down.
Promptness 7 Didn’t have to wait too long
Food – presentation 4 OB screams  mass produced meals.
Ingredient quality 4 We didn’t see our salads but saw the refrigerated displays. I have definitely seen better
Taste 4 Mediocre at best
Delivered as advertised 4 Nope.
Worth the spend 3 No. I can spend R100 at another SEAFOOD restaurant and enjoy far better fare.
Worth going again 3 Only to be polite – but not if I can help it
Total Score 71 Out of 150 – dark and dismal.

Finally, in the spirit of your ads, it’s no use fishing for compliments from me, your menu has made anemone out of my palate and you take last plaice in my book.


I am not sponsored by, nor do I receive any benefit from any restaurant visited. This is a private individual’s opinion, based on several years restaurant and food experiences. You are encouraged to form your own opinions.

About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
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2 Responses to Restaurant Review – Ocean Basket Melville

  1. Andre Viljoen says:

    Haha. Thanks Old Bean. I tend to agree with you 100%.

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