Even on the most glorious stay-at-home kinda day or night it can be hard to resist the pull of Cape Town’s fabulous food scene. We have lost quite a few amazing and treasured places in the plague but many have survived, some have even thrived, and a surprising number have only just arrived.
In the Mother City, food is art and lifestyle, challenge and adventure, all rolled into one.
Who remembers when being in Cape Town made you feel like you were in that other place called ‘overseas’? Zsa Zsa at 101 Hout St on the edge of the City Bowl, will take you back there.
A big difference is that this is not exclusively the domain of perfect young things, there are older people too!
The Wagyu Burger delivered a proper Wagyu experience, meatier than meaty; the calamari was very tasty but a little on the tough side.
Music by DJ Dane was very cool, music you can dance to but you don’t have to.
Food: 7 Music: 9 Ambience: 10. We will be back
A few other places we are loving right now:
Our best for romance, intensity and intimacy: When the wonderful Sepial is not serving her sensational Asian food at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market, where we all go now since abandoning the Biscuit Mill, you will find her at Allium at 37 Parliament St, Downtown.
Sepial’s food has long been our absolute favourite in the city of foodies. The dishes are described and delivered by Sepial herself or her son, Mooru, which makes this a family affair that is intimate as well as authentic.
The way every dish manages to combine surprise and comfort hits you over and over. The impact is not lessened on the second, third and fourth visits. The woman is a genius.
Slivers of zesty freshness set all zones of your tongue alight. Zingy kimchi cuts through the luxuriously rich flavours of Korean fried chicken. A deeply flavoured broth nourishes the body and the soul. Bibimbap tastes like it sounds, a playful and delicious dish that will make you want to dance.
Sepial’s food makes you breathe deeply, smile, raise your eyebrows, roll your shoulders. Allium is whole body experience.
And if you wake up feeling like a sneaky champagne breakfast, go right back to Church Square to Labotessa boutique hotel, next door to Allium. What a fabulous place for breakfast with a glass of local bubbly (and, we would imagine, a total knockout of a place to stay).
A new discovery is Burger & Lobster. What luxurious and delicious food. Great service from a man called David, who really seemed to know everything about a large, delicious menu
Food was better than we expected; music was louder than we could have imagined. It is a weird combination of food and service that makes one feel like a character in The Great Gatsby and music that brings to mind the worst of the after-after clubs.
Talking about being characters in The Great Gatsby, there could be no better thing to do on a rainy Saturday than order takeout from Burger & Lobster (everything is available as takeout these days) and binge-watch The Beginning of Everything, the series based on Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, a fictionalised version of the life of American socialite and writer Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, perhaps best known as Mrs F. Scott Fitzgerald.
And some history … (November 2013)
Ed’s note: this was posted before La Parada started its steep descent into mediocrity and arrogance …
Aaah Cape Town in the springtime … restaurants always seem to be at the forefront of the Mother City’s annual revival and reinvention.
For the coolest of cool venues for after-work drinks and light eats, La Parada has come to town!
We were all puffed up and proud when we ‘discovered’ La Parada’s little sister in Kalk Bay earlier this year. We thought it all really ‘authentically’ Spanish (and ourselves very international for saying so).
We loved the atmosphere and enjoyed the food, but were kind of knocked off our stride, if not exactly our chairs, by the familiarity the waitress. I am all for friendliness and warmth, but leaning against my shoulder while taking the order is taking chillax too far.
Imagine my surprise then on my visit to the sensational new Bree Street branch when I discovered that leaning seems to be ‘de rigeur’ at La Parada. Fortunately, though, in his case the waiter leant on the table rather than me while taking our order.
We were also a little surprised that he didn’t seem to understand the tapas concept and kept asking if we wanted that ‘as a main course’ … or could it be that we were getting it wrong?
Sticking to our own interpretation of tapas, we nibbled our way through various items. Each seemed to be more yummy than the last, with the climax of deliciousness in the prawn croquettes. I was not surprised to hear that the chef, Eva de Jesús, was only recently imported from Spain. No surprise either that she was chef-patron at La Taberna del Alabardero, a 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Madrid.
Spanish omelette: A good choice, especially if you don’t like too many eggs being broken in the making of your omelette. Very tasty with a lovely peppery flavour and containing surprisingly little egg.
Calamari: divinely smokey and oily. Super more-ish (we asked for seconds).
Prawn croquette: exactly the right (light and almost fluffy) consistency of potato and (… add drum roll here please…) wait for the subtle, unmistakeable prawn taste to hit you.
Jamon croquettes: Almost as delicious.
Verdict: Gorgeous food, lovely atmosphere, great location, sensational potential. Staff need training.
******** Coming soon ********
The whispers that the trendsetters from Madame Zingara are wiping the tarty old red from Café Manhattan’s luscious lips and replacing her laddered tights with something more glamorous … whisper whisper gossip gossip … have been confirmed. The new Manhattan opens soon and is sure to be the Coming Out Queen of the 2013 Mother City season.
Local is lekker …
Food porn in the Mother City
Carlyles, Derry Street, Devils Peak: bikers and boobs
Ed’s update, March 2021: Carlyles is that rare beast of the restaurant world that delivers year in and year out. It is super-fun local bar and restaurant that serves decent, good value food. There is always something happening at Carlyles.
Checking out the restaurant scene in Devils Peak after an absence of a few years I was pleased to discover that Carlyles had been given a makeover. The restaurant seems to have always been there but never really appealed to me in the past. I used to be very faithful to Bella Italia just up the road but have been disappointed there once too often recently (once is sometimes too often although I have been more generous here).
The food at Sidewalk Café is consistently good, the cocktails are great and there is usually a good vibe, but there are times when I hanker after a less shiny/glamorous local. (The line between less shiny/glamorous and somewhat dodgy is nicely blurred.)
Judging by the team usually holding the bar counter in position, Carlyles is a great place to pick up a biker type (whether they have bikes or are just biker types is anyone’s guess … altho I did find it quite telling that the only bike parked outside there when I was there was my little Big Boy).
The thing that impressed me most on my most recent visit was the waitress (who shall remain nameless) who had an amazing ‘Boost and Lift’ contraption built into her clothing. Very impressive indeed! It took me a while to figure it out, but once I had it seemed so obvious.
Once she had her audience figured as being there to salivate over the servers rather than then soufflé she used this hidden device to ‘Boost and Lift’ her tip to devastating effect. At key moments, for example once she had finished seducing us with her lip-smacking delivery of the specials, she put both hands at that point where the lower back meets the buttocks thus activating the device. As she delivered her final line, “That’s all we have in the way of food”, the device neatly and cleanly Lifted and Boosted her lungs.
This continued for a few exciting seconds. Just when I started worrying about an impending wardrobe failure, she lifted her hands off the activating device and in one clean, cunningly executed movement – a coy nose-to-breast head-tuck with a ‘shy’ giggle masking any sound the device might make – she returned the situation to a mere Red Alert.
Oh and the food is decent and reasonably priced too …