EPIC ROAD'S SAFARI BLOG

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Wednesday
Sep202017

Cape of Good Eats

Cape Town’s Jet Set Dining Scene Takes Center Stage

Updated September 20, 2017 

You’ve frolicked with penguins, hiked to the top of Table Mountain and navigated Noordhoek Beach on horseback.   If you think your luxury safari trip can’t get any better, think again.  Cape Town’s Jet Set dining scene is an eclectic feast, with world-class menus built around an evolving array of food and flavors, and restaurants characterized by their cool vibe, gorgeous patrons and edgy design.  This dynamic global city offers a fusion of influences—African, Mediterranean, Asian and French—and one-of-a-kind eateries abound.  It’s a foodie’s delight, serving everything from fresh seafood to imaginative gourmet dishes, and here are a few of our favorites.

THE SHORT MARKET CLUB: Located just off happening Bree Street, The Short Market Club is chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ newest venture, following the success of his other restaurants Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club. Dale-Roberts’ wife Sandalene has spearheaded the design here, creating an impressive ambiance by marrying old-world elements like antique barn doors and leather covered tables with a modern open kitchen that includes a Braai barbeque. The menu takes a cue from the design (or perhaps vice-versa) by re-inventing old classics with contemporary touches: Highlights include beef carpaccio with a miso-cured egg yolk, a crispy pig cheek with gorgonzola and granny smith apple, and perfect West Coast oysters.

BOUCHON BISTRO: Centrally located Bouchon Bistro is situated inside a winery which makes for earthy, cellar-like ambiance while still feeling upscale. Small plates and desserts are expertly paired with worldly wines, and the “Travel Through Your Glass” option, a weekly selection of wines by the glass, is a great way to taste and learn. Patrons come for the intricate dishes like artichoke and pea risotto or tender beef tataki and stay well into the evening for the romantic and cozy atmosphere. 

THE SILO HOTEL: Inside the brand new, luxurious Silo Hotel are three noteworthy spots to satisfy any discerning traveler’s food and drink cravings. On the sixth floor of the hotel, formerly a grain factory, is the Willaston Bar, a vibrant space with a long bar, deep blue velvet banquettes and soaring, pillowed glass windows that look out over the harbor. The bar then opens into the Granary Cafe, a refined eatery with an eclectic menu featuring delectable items like beef tartare, fresh seafood bouillabaise and a special Sunday Roast served on a carving trolley. Reservations at the Granary are advised. To round out the options, the Rooftop Bar at the Silo is an ideal spot to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. The menu offers light fare and is open for lunch, too. 

THALI: Both menu and space are designed with groups both large and small in mind at atmospheric Indian tapas restaurant Thali. Exotic colors and patterns in the decor fill the restaurant’s multiple spaces, including a beautiful outdoor patio. Chef Liam Tomlin from Chef’s Warehouse does up an impressive menu with the highlight and most popular item being his signture “Tapas for 2” that may include such delicacies as black dhal, butter chicken, banana leaf steamed fish and tandoori cauliflower. Thali doesn’t take reservations but the bar is a cool spot to wait out a table.

VILLA 47: Family-owned Villa 47 offers three separate menus in a dynamic, multi-level space. Ground floor Locanda is a sleek Italian bistro and a choice spot for a mouthwatering eggs Benedict breakfast. One floor up, tapas bar and event space Stuzzico oozes a sultry nighttime vibe, an ideal place to sip an aperol spritz during DJ nights and First Thursday celebrations. The top floor venue, called simply Restaurant, offers a unique Asian-Mediterranean fusion menu in a luxurious space with rose gold mirrors and a central skylight. Yet another soon-to-be favorite, see-and-be-seen spot on buzzy Bree Street.

THE STACK: Housed in historic, 160-year old Leinster Hall, this traditional bistro proves that classic French fare need not be inventive to be delicious. An air of exclusivity trickles down from the members-only club upstairs while diners delve into a perfectly crusty croque madame or richly flavored coq au vin. The accomplished husband and wife team are trained hotelier and interior designer respectively, which is evident in the bold colors and high quality furnishings set between wood floors and pressed steel ceilings. 

HOKEY POKE: The Hawaian raw fish craze has officially come to the Mother City in the form of cool and funky Hokey Poke. The Menu features classic poke bowls as well as the option to choose innovative ingredients like samphire, jalapenos, or something called “nacho dust.” A strip of pink neon marks the entrance on narrow Church Street, and the interior white tiled tables and whitewashed walls are bathed in the same glow from a pink neon palm tree sign. Hokey Poke is decidedly casual - customers can order for takeaway and it’s still BYOB while they wait for their liquor license. 

CAFE CAPRICE: Café Caprice is where the cool kids are on a Sunday night. Combining artisan cocktails, a casual menu, relaxing landscapes and sidewalk seating, Caprice is at the heart of Cape Town's cosmopolitan social scene and has become a virtual landmark on the Camps Bay promenade. The ultimate sunset viewing spot but the fun doesn't stop there because hours are '9 a.m. till late'. *Thursday-Sunday, DJ's fill the space with laid-back house music.

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB: As soon as you see the bejeweled tiger suspended from the ceiling, you know you’re in a quirky place.  With its bohemian vibe and kitschy, over-the-top neon décor, the design of the Bombay Bicycle Club may seem as though it would trump the menu.  But the restaurant takes its food very seriously, and offers an outstanding menu of fresh fish, giant juicy prawns, and gourmet platters of local meat, including venison tapenade, lamb shanks, and what many claim are the best ribs in Cape Town. 

THE BUNGALOW: Delicate plump sushi, smooth fleshy slivers of line fish, beef carpaccio, piles of prawns, panna cotta that wobbles like a voluptuous woman on stilettos…rustic The Bungalow may be, but food has never made the wooden board it's served on look so good.  Add to that a list of South Africa's best wines and champagnes (yes they stock French Champagne too), along with cocktails that preen and pose on the menu like a line of chorus girls waiting to be cast.  Despite all the fanfare about the food and the booze, nothing will prepare you for the magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean afforded from the dramatic cliff upon which The Bungalow sits in the ever-chic Clifton neighborhood—and never mind the well-heeled, gorgeous local patrons you will encounter.  Barefoot is the new Louboutin at The Bungalow, and as the sun drowns itself in a puddle as pink as rose champagne, curl up with your lover in a velvety private nook, or go find a new one on the sun-dappled deck.

ASOKA: In the shadow of Table Mountain on Kloof Street is Asoka, a stylish Asian fusion restaurant, bar and lounge, known for its distinctive design.  Located in a charming Victorian townhouse, Asoka’s main dining room is build around an open courtyard with an ancient olive tree—referred to as the Dharma Tree—growing straight up the middle.  An outdoor deck with a cozy copper fireplace, inventive menu of tapas and cocktails, and regular live jazz also add to Asoka’s ambiance of comfortable elegance and laid-back romance.

GRAND CAFÉ & BEACH: Perched on the pristine beach of Granger Bay, this local favorite is barefoot elegance at its best. More casual and less menu-focused than some of its competitors, Grand Cafe & Beach is a prime spot for groups to grab pizza and and libations on a sunny day. 

THE POT LUCK CLUB: Located on the top floor of the Old Biscuit Mill on Albert Road, Woodstock - a former industrial complex taken over & reinvented by new merchants, night markets, restaurants and designer stores. The Pot Luck opened its doors in February of 2013 and has since filled 2 sittings every night throughout high and low season alike, running to capacity of one hundred and twenty guests. Dubbed one of the coolest spots to kick back in Cape Town, the Pot Luck owes its success to fantastic views, innovative tapas-style cuisine & a relaxed yet edgy environment in a part of the Cape that has never before attracted an evening dining crowd.

HEMELHUIJS: Hemelhuijs is Dutch for heaven’s house. And if it's any indication of what breakfast tastes like in heaven, you might want to consider behaving yourself from here on out. You should also know that lunch is just as divine...mouth-watering creations such as pear-and-celeriac salad accompanied by hazelnuts & trout. Located on one of Cape Town's few pedestrian walkways, at the corner of exquisite and sublime, where fanciful treats are displayed in gold-painted bowls and beneath a collection of chandeliers intricately crafted from driftwood & star-shaped seedpods (whatever those may be). Hemelhuijs is an impressive showcasing of food, ceramic ware & lighting - so be prepared to take home some extra weight both on your person & and in your suitcase. Not to worry though, it will all be offset by much lighter wallets.

CHEF'S WAREHOUSE & CANTEEN: In need of a food fix & a good book list? Chef's Warehouse & Canteen gives you Liam Tomlin inspired tapas to take in on Bree Street and recommended recipe books to take home on the plane. Mediterranean, European and Spanish make for an ever changing menu with reoccurring favorites such as the feather-light gnocchi, al dente risotto or fresh oysters with shredded nori & lime, to be enjoyed with a side of Parmesan crisps and a cold craft beer or warm artisanal tea depending on the day. Rain or shine, desert is non-negotiable - silky smooth lemon posset & chocolate fondant with essence of orange and a scoop of orange ice cream. Don't trouble yourself with difficult decisions, you're on vacation, get both. 

MULBERRY & PRINCE: A stylish New York inspired eatery located at 12 Pepper Street, Cape Town. A marriage of South African & American conceives unto you creamy stracciatella with lovage and charred bread; cod with an ajo-blanco-inspired sauce; slow-cooked pork shoulder in brodo with burnt leeks and cucumbers & ricotta gnudi with parmesan broth and mushrooms. To complement Mulberry & Prince edgy menu, the space adheres to understated elegance and gives you a chic New-York feel with a South African flair. Expect stained glass, dirty pinks, lush velvets and an eclectic mix of custom-made and modern furniture alongside walls clad in the works of Cape-Town-based artist Kurt Pio.

TEST KITCHEN: A revolutionary blend and beautiful harmony of Peruvian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorean flavors. The Test Kitchen will not only inspire your taste for fine food but will further support your desire for mind-expansive travels. Award-winning chef Luke Dale-Roberts' appoints travel as his muse and the base for most if not all of his delicious creations - "my time in Europe taught me to cook; my time in Asia broadened my horizons". Exceptional South African produce, hand-made plates and bowls, accomplished wine flights, delectable nine-course tasting menus, theatrical style and risky food pairings make for an extraordinary gastronomical experience. Plan ahead, as tables at Test Kitchen can be booked online as far as three months in advance and it’s the most sought-after reservation in town. 

BELUGA: European and cosmopolitan, Beluga is housed in a century-old building and features an open-plan kitchen. It’s renowned for a sophisticated menu of sushi, dim sum and seafood selections, as well as contemporary twists on more traditional meat platters like Lamb Shank with wasabi mash, and Beef Ribs braised in coriander and ginger. On a warm night, ask to be seated in their beautiful stone courtyard. Beluga also has a very vibrant bar scene, offering a fun selection of cocktails—like white chocolate martinis and mojito lollies—that can double as desert. 

NOBU: For those craving a familiar taste, Nobu Cape Town at the luxurious One & Only Hotel and Resort is the first African outpost of the high-end sushi empire, and the menu features unique twists on the restaurant’s classic Japanese cuisine. Indulge in fresh local seafood with indigenous spices and flavors—like the popular Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno—paired with inventive Sake based cocktails from the restaurant’s trendy lounge.  After experiencing Nobu South Africa, home won’t feel so far away. 

THE ROUNDHOUSE: Nestled in the glens of Table Mountain and with sweeping views of Camps Bay and the expansive Atlantic waters, the Roundhouse will inevitably appeal to more than one of your senses. Tapas-style European cuisine with a touch of South African character and an extensive wine collection allow for unique tailored pairings and beautiful displays - every dish is truly a work of art. 

DUTCHESS OF WISBEACH: A restaurant that operates by Mae West's wise words, "you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough". Written up as a hip cross between a New York speakeasy and a Parisian cafe, with fun music and a Mediterranean menu that all help to create a buzzing cool vibe. Homemade ice cream flavors change all the time so no matter how many times you go, you're always in for a delicious surprise. 

KLOOF STREET HOUSE: Dark, boozy and cool. Kloof Street House is an eclectic restaurant, bar and lounge, featuring richly furnished dining rooms set in a gorgeous character-filled Victorian room. Go back in time and go for Sunday lunch Jazz, romantic candle lit dinner or drinks in their cozy garden resting under the shade of cooling lush palm trees. Enjoy mouthwatering sharing boards, Saldanha Bay Oysters and a variety of Moroccan, French and locally inspired dishes.  

Looking to lunch like a local and have a casual bite? Try Culture Club Cheese or Bacon on Bree, which are right next door to each other. 

SOUTHERN SUBURBS - Constantia, Noordhoek, Simons Town

Cape Town’s southern suburbs hold their own in terms of gastronomical delights. We’ve mined the options and picked the best in case you find yourself out that way or feel like getting out of the fray of the city - these are worth the trek. 

In Constantia...

GREENHOUSE: Modern South African fine dining at the serene Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel. Acres of lush gardens and vineyards surround the property where the restaurant has been carefully built around a beautiful 300-year old oak tree. Perhaps inspired by these surroundings, ever dish at Greenhouse tells a story, or such is the motto from this team of accomplished chefs, who make painstaking effort to create a harmony of flavors by selecting and combining local and meaningful ingredients. The artful presentation is almost as impressive as the food itself, and the kitchen is especially accommodating to vegetarians and other dietary restrictions. Greenhouse has won multiple culinary awards and is hailed as one of the country’s best restaurants.

CHEF’S WAREHOUSE AT BEAU CONSTANTIA: Chef Liam Tomlin’s newest outpost is situated inside beautiful boutique wine farm Beau Constantia. The open plan kitchen helmed by Ivor Jones, previously of Test Kitchen, and the elegant space offers some of the best views over the valley and False Bay. As with Chef’s Warehouse downtown outpost the signature experience here is “tapas for 2”. The ever-changing menu of chef’s selections is driven by seasonal and produce-driven mix of ingredients; current or past examples include coal seared blesbok and pork fillet with roasted apple. Of course, the excellent array of wines to pair with the food enhances the experience with opportunities to sample the farm’s own range called Pas de Nom and their bespoke Beau Constantia label, among many others. 

LA COLOMBE: La Colombe is contemporary cuisine at its finest. A creative twist of Asian, a touch of French and a flair of local inspiration make for an unexpectedly delightful fusion. Sourced from the restaurant's organic gardens, paired with an award-wining wine list & served over sweeping views of Constantia Valley, it's no wonder La Colombe is a frequent contender on Cape Town's Top 10 and no stranger to S.Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants. "The freshest seasonal produce, uncomplicated clean flavours and classical elegance are the essence of my inspiration and the passion for my food” - Chef Scot Kirton.

FOXCROFT: Renowned chef Scot Kirton has opened a sister restaurant to famed La Colombe in partnership with his pastry chef - and Foxcroft’s namesake - Glen Foxcroft Williams.  The airy, welcoming space has a freestanding central fireplace and an open kitchen and the menu focuses on quality, seasonal ingredients, like a 7-day dry aged duck breast with turnips and fermented plum. And Williams’ in-house bakery serves up crave-worthy homemade breads and freshly made pastries. Foxcroft has a laidback and comfortable design, while much of the furniture and lighting fixtures are locally designed. 

In Noordhoek...

THE FOODBARN:

The Foodbarn serves fine dining-quality food in a relaxed setting within family-friendly Noordhoek Farm Village. Chef Franck Dangereux, who got his start at La Colombe, has succeeded in creating a comfortable space for both adults and kids to enjoy beautiful food prepared with respect and love, without all the fancy bells and whistles. A place with a focus on sustainable and organic ingredients where one will find fresh bread and coffee roasted from local beans. And beyond just the restaurant, the experience here includes the Foodbarn Deli, a space that sells pastries and other takeaway items during the day and then turns into a vibey tapas bar at night. There’s also a secondhand Barn Bookshop, a favorite among area locals, and at Foodbarn Studio occasional interactive cooking demonstrations.

In Simons Town...

MANGATA: Located on busy St. Georges Street in Simons Town, the chef team behind Mangata, lead by owner William Sharp, has created a contemporary French fusion menu with staples like delicate ostrich carpaccio with bloody Mary jelly, a richly delicious duck breast, and a fantistic creme brulee. Also highly recommended are the 3- or 7-course chef’s tasting menu. The ambiance here is relaxed yet romantic - in colder months it’s a great spot to enjoy a drink by the log fireplace, or in the summer snag a spot on the balcony for views of Simons Town Harbor out to False Bay. If you’re doing a peninsula tour Mangata is the best alternative to some of the more touristy eateries.