Picture: THINKSTOCK

THE lament that fresh and high-quality seafood is not easy to find in coastal restaurants continues to be heard.

It is clear our coastline’s best seafood is exported — our hake, for example, often derided by local connoisseurs, is in high demand in Spain.

Our seasonal snoek is delicious, but never on restaurant lists except as a spread. And I recall standing at a just-arrived fishing boat and asking to buy the mackerel on the table, only to be told it was not for sale but for the deck hands.

Then much of our catch flies directly to Gauteng, where there is higher demand, and prices.

Even so, there is too often a limited choice for fish lovers — one can’t help thinking that the sushi madness has contributed to the near ubiquity of (only) tuna, salmon and yellowtail.

But on a recent trip up the Cape south coast I again ate at an understated seafood spot — in the style of a beach shack — called Christy’s Catch in St Francis. The owner of the establishment owns fishing boats, a great advantage, and the Cape salmon in the display counter and grilled for lunch was peerlessly fresh and delicious.

In the same area, try the local calamari at Jeffreys Bay’s InFood — again something that goes straight overseas as we prefer the pretenderised commercial variants from Patagonia to our own — with its superior taste but more resistant "bite".

• JP Rossouw is editor of Rossouw’s Restaurants, the independent guide to dining in South Africa. All visits are made un-announced and are paid for.