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Wine & Dine
July 26, 2016

A Foodie’s Guide To Cape Town

Text by Shirin Mehta. Photographs by Charu Khosla

We sampled Cape Town’s varied gastronomic offerings and brought you the best!

Visit Cape Town for its beautiful location on the western coast of South Africa. Stay for Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak, all of which loom protectively in the middle of the city sprawl. Enjoy an African sunset in full bloom or days of glorious sunshine. But, do not miss out on the vast choice of restaurants and cuisines that this glorious city has to offer.

Capetonians love the great outdoors and a favourite meal would be to braai or barbecue meats in the backyard. While this may not be possible for the visitor, the city’s eateries will spoil you for choice. Bree Street, in the Central Business District, is lined with restaurants and boutiques of every kind. Long Street is ‘party street’, meant for the young and adventurous with happening bars and sundowner pubs. The Woodstock area has The Old Biscuit Mill which draws crowds with its Saturday morning farmers’ market and is also the location for The Test Kitchen, considered among the world’s 10 best restaurants. Woodstock is also central to the burgeoning artisanal beer scene in the area. The Victoria and Albert Waterfront, a magnet for tourists, boasts restaurants with a view. The beach and coast, like Camps Bay, offer toes-in-the-sand places with great music thrown in. Constantia, replete with undulating hills covered with vines, is Cape Town’s own winemaking area with vineyards that are equally proud of their vintages and gastronomy.

While the traditional Cape Malay cuisine blends Indonesian spices with a Dutch style of cooking, city restaurants offer authentic world cuisine and experimentation with locally sourced products from wonderful farmers’ markets. Chef Jocelyn Myers-Adams, of Table Bay hotel, says, “The big movement now is about going back to the roots. Cape Town was known for what I call ‘comma cuisine’, a lot of things happening on one plate. Now, it’s becoming simpler, quality is more important. I am pushing for edible indigenous products that are easily available.” Adds Denise Levy known for her cooking classes and events held at her home in the coastal city, “There is so much happening here around food, wine and beer at the moment that we can’t help but enjoy it all.”

La Mouette Restaurant

Chef patron Henry Vigar arrived in Cape Town from London and fell in love with a beautiful old building that once belonged to the mayor, on Regent Road in Sea Point. His restaurant, named after the seagulls that ride the wind in this area, prettily straddles this delightful house and outdoor courtyard with a fountain, ideal for balmy evenings. Fine food and dining is what the restaurant is all about, with seasonal menus ensuring the freshest produce. The late summer tasting menu offers dishes like summer Caesar salad with quail egg and crispy pancetta; spiced coconut and butternut soup; gemsbok bolognaise; beef sirloin with truffle emulsion; and sea bass with a bouillabaisse sauce…. Fine wines have been expertly matched to ‘create a unique finer dining experience’. A great place to visit for its romantic atmosphere and good food.

Hemelhuiji’s

A whimsical interior with constantly changing decor today highlights a painted canvas on the ceiling, an unusual chandelier of tree branches and a deer head with a crown of thistle. Wooden racks display their home collection of white porcelain with gold glaze, among other tableware, for sale. The quirky atmosphere is coupled with a menu (that features artistic images of food) created of fresh ingredients that ‘interweave the flavours of childhood memories and that of the exotic’. Colourful glasses of fresh juice combinations are ideal for a hot day. Recommended is the baby marrow carpaccio that arrives on a large platter, fresh and crunchy and dabbled with soft whipped herbed cream cheese. The steamed summer garden vegetables with home-made dips is highly recommended. Dig into a large bowl of farm-style beef and cabbage frikadelle, a delicious warming stew or a large platter of pan-fried veal with crab butter. Delicious, all of it!

Reuben’s

South Africa’s favourite chef, Reuben Riffel, has opened his first urban restaurant at the One & Only resort in Cape Town. The farm-to-table, ingredient-driven menu is inspired by Riffel’s travels around the globe. Head sommelier Luvo Ntezo is happy to pair your meal selections with wonderful wines from the region and beyond. Choose from a pleasing selection that includes fresh vegetables, pâtés and meats grilled to perfection. Grilled springbok loin or pan-roasted karoo lamb rump offers a taste of the region. Whole linefish cooked for the table and Norwegian salmon are choices from the sea. Opt for a juicy Reuben’s burger or a rare steak with a selection of sides from thick-cut chips to honey-roasted roots. Enjoy and celebrate in an atmosphere of chic luxury.

Myoga

Enjoy the theatre of the open-plan kitchen when you visit award-winning chef Mike Bassett’s latest venture situated in the Vineyard Hotel and Spa in Newlands, a 15-minute drive from the city centre. A choice of venues includes the main restaurant area, two terraces, a smoking lounge, and private dining in the wine cellar below, all in the beautiful six-acre gardens. Lunch includes a selection of fresh salads, soups, pastries and sandwiches. The heirloom tomato and toasted cheese ice cream is delicious, fresh and cool on this very hot afternoon. The catch of the day, we are informed, is sea bass which we pair with a comforting shrimp risotto The linefish, the local kabeljou, is served with an exotic mushroom stir-fry. The dessert however introduces drama to our already-satisfying meal. Death of strawberry shortcake is covered with candy-floss that melts away as the hot strawberry gel is poured over it. Scrumptious with flair!

Chefs Warehouse and Canteen

Situated on vibrant Bree Street and trending among city restaurants is this relaxed canteen-style eatery with its wooden benches, black walls and adjoining kitchen store displaying cookbooks and kitchen utensils. Be warned that this eatery does not take bookings and lines can bend around the corner on busy days. Today’s lunch, however, is non-fussy, though good and aromatic. The tapas for two set menu ensures a seemingly unending list of small eats that tickle the taste buds. The items on the menu change regularly and we have a selection of seafood, duck and meats as well as noodles and rice. Desserts on the menu include Irish coffee chocolate mousse, elderflower panna cotta with blackberry, a selection of chocolate bon bons…. However, while the service is smooth and seamless, the meal can take over an hour.

The Pot Luck Club

On the top floor of the silo at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, this restaurant affords a view that can rival any in this city of fabulous views. The menu features an unusual concept where the sharing plates are divided into different flavour profiles — salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami. Pick from your favourite tastes or from all for a tailor-made experience. Example of salty is the peri-peri chicken; Chalmar beef fillet for umami; granadilla sorbet for bitter; ceviche with jalapeno tiger’s milk and quinoa for sour; springbok carpaccio with burnt honey and soy dressing for sweet; and a malted chocolate fondant soufflé for the ‘sweet ending’. The meal is quirky, interesting and satisfying. The atmosphere, busy, bustling and cool.

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