Athi-Patra Ruga’s iridescent art on black pioneers + more in Sculpture Garden
If Hermanus is the riviera of the South, then Ficks is the reason why
We celebrate good food, wine, nature and diversity, writes Les Aupiais for Ficks
“Oh, for a safe place for our children to swim…” What began nearly 90 years ago as a wish by the Ficks family for a pool washed by the tides but structured to tame Walker Bay’s waves, in the end, created a magnificent natural amphitheatre for us all for decades to come.
When we heard the first murmurs about proposed plans for a restaurant here on the rocks in 2018, we knew we could give Hermanus a spectacular dining experience. But there were rules, and we were happy to follow them. The restaurant had to touch the earth lightly, be at one with the surroundings, be accessible to everyone and become a stage for nature’s most dramatic marine performances.
SIP WINE ON DECKS TUCKED INTO THE CLIFFS
On wooden decks that hug the cliff contours, we set up our ‘sails’ – broad umbrellas that shade guests while they look out for shy resident dassies on the cliffs above, pods of dolphins beyond the tidal pool wall, or yachts in full sail tacking to the direction of the wind.
At sunset, cruise boats anchor so guests can toast the end of the day from their decks while our guests toast them from the shore. There are days when the sea is an aquamarine blue or when currents change, a deep indigo with white horses that break the wave tips. No day is ever the same – and nor are the people who have discovered us.
FICKS IS A PLACE FOR EVERYONE (+ THEIR DOG)
We revel in the diversity of our guests. Children swim and then, wrapped in towels against the chill, dash up the steps to drink natural fruit smoothies, sea salt still on their lips. Parents relax and chat, watching their little ones play and interact with other children in this playground. We welcome four-legged family members, and they lie in the shade, leashes tethered to wooden tables while Ficks’ staff set down water-bowls for them.
Glamorous women dress up and, in full bling and high heels, pose for their best selfie of the year. Guests in wheelchairs find their favourite spot with ease from the wide, smooth ramp that runs from the carpark above. Young friends cluster in groups and elderly couples celebrate a special outing. International guests marvel at how they have stumbled on this little slice of “Croatia”, “Italy” or “Greece” in the heart of Hermanus.
FRESH INGREDIENTS ARE LOCALLY SOURCED
We may have international flair, but our hearts will always be local. Fresh ingredients, including extra virgin olive oil, are all sourced from farmers and suppliers around us.
Ours is social food, a menu of dishes designed for sharing. Our speciality, Basque-style Pinchos de Carne, Pinchos de Mariscos and Pinchos de Verduras – meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes – are distinctly flavoured with a Piment Déspilet from a small region in the South West of Spain, and set the theme, but we are also cosmopolitan and casual here at Ficks.
EACH PLATE IS A FLAVOUR BOMB
The range of pinchos – tapas on a stick in Spain, but deconstructed here at Ficks – is made to be shared by our regulars, who have many favourites: flash-fried calamari with Romesco sauce, crispy prawns, seared beef fillet still pink and served on ciabatta with a shallot jam, and a salmon ceviche that’s fresh, light and tasty. There’s something special about the taste of seafood served at a restaurant open to the sky and where the “air conditioning” is a fresh sea breeze.
In Spain, pinchos is mostly a bread-based snack, but here at Ficks many of our pinchos are wheat-free – good news for Banting-ites and the gluten-intolerant. Ordering a few plates for the table while sitting over a pool washed by the daily tides is a lovely way to dine. Try the crispy, flash-fried cauliflower on a skewer, or the patatas bravas with spicy Romesco sauce and creamy, homemade aioli, a dish loved by parents and children alike.
YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH THE FLAMMKUCHEN
A steady stream of trays delivers our crisp, thin, yeast-free flammkuchen with delicious, fresh toppings directly from our outdoor oven to your table. There are seven options to choose from, including the simple but flavourful Caprese (buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil), the Vegeteriano (avocado, mushrooms, onions and red pepper), and the El Clasico (crème fraîche, onion and bacon).
Don’t confuse flammkuchen with pizza. Our recipe hails from Germany and doesn’t lean on lashings of cheese for flavour. Flammkuchen crust is almost paper thin and that makes it light on the tummy and the perfect after-swim snack.
COME FOR THE WINE, COCKTAILS, MOCKTAILS
Our wine list celebrates our local winemakers, but we’re also famous for our cocktails, with creative alcohol-free alternatives available all year round. Try our refreshing and light cucumber mojito, made with simple syrup, lime, cucumber and club soda, or our virgin piña colada, which is not too sweet and tastes like holiday.
REMEMBER YOUR VISIT WITH THESE TWO MEMENTOS
What better way to mark your time with us than with a camera or cell phone filled with images to take home, but there are two special mementos you may buy here. Our Panama-style Mardee hats are painted by a talented group of artists from Zwelihle and add a dash of Africa to your sophisticated headgear.
Our staff all wear bright Mandela bags around their waists leaving their hands free to serve. Whether you are on a contour path walk or want to travel light carrying only your essentials, these bags may be just the ticket!
WE WAIT FOR THIS MOMENT EVERY TIME
We have one favourite ritual. Guests reach Ficks down a broad flight of stone stairs edged with a sturdy guide rope. They look down to watch their step but at the bottom, look up and quite suddenly, their faces transform as they take in the setting. It is this show-stopping moment we wait for every time.
Address: Marine Drive, Westcliff, Hermanus
Contact: email@example.com, +27(0)28 312 4082
Hours: Monday–Sunday 11am – 9pm (as it is a completely open-air venue, it will be closed during severe wet weather.)
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