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Eating in Cape Town


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#1 Doc

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 04:21 PM

We will be traveling this December/January for 2 weeks in South Africa. Our journey starts in Cape Town. I have never been to South Africa, and wondered if anyone had some recommendations as to restaurants and regional cuisines to try.
Thanks!

Edited by Doc, 21 October 2009 - 04:22 PM.

-Doc
"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw
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#2 petit cochon

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 08:28 PM

My husband and I spent our honeymoon in South Africa this past August. You will love it! We only spent a couple of days in Cape Town, so I obviously have a very limited perspective - but I'm happy to share our dining experiences!

We wanted to sample Cape Malay cuisine (your guide book probably provides much better context than I possibly could) and had a fantastic dinner at Bo Kaap Kombuis (which we had inadvertently been mispronouncing terribly, the actual pronunciation - to my American ear - sounded something like 'Boo Cap Kambay'). Our favorite dish was the bobotie - a baked meatloaf-meets-custard type dish which was fantastic because of the deliciously subtle spices. Not spicy, but spiced - my memory of the flavors several months later is that they were almost similar to pumpkin pie spices. Definitely unique. The restaurant also has an incredible view - we were sad that we had to arrive after dark due to a very delayed flight. That being said, the restaurant was happy to change our booking to a later time - turned out that we were one of only two tables in an otherwise empty restaurant (and I think our later dining time wound up being at around 8pm). So, definitely not a vibe-y place, at least when we were there, but we were happy to have had the experience. Oh, and also be aware that they don't serve alcohol.

For our second dinner, we opted to try Bizerca. We wanted to try a spot that seemed like someplace we might eat if we actually LIVED in Cape Town, and, as such, were more interested in trying some local creative cooking than in having a more formal tasting menu-style meal. Obviously not everyone's approach to dining in a new city, but Bizerca lived up to our hopes for the evening. Delicious, intense flavors - I recall loving the oyster dish (local oysters were consistently great throughout SA), fantastic ravioli of some sort, delicious scallop/trotter dish, and an interesting tongue preparation w/ a vinegar-y herb/caper (?) sauce - unfortunately I can't remember more details as this was the very beginning of our 2-week honeymoon and I wasn't taking notes! I do remember that they recommended a pinotage that turned out to be one of our favorites of the trip (we're wine people, but don't know South African wines so had mixed luck). It's also worth noting that this was one of the few restaurants we visited where most patrons seemed to be locals.

We also enjoyed a casual lunch at Manna Epicure - fairly central on Kloof Street and we didn't want to make too much of a production out of lunch since we had limited time to walk around and explore the city. We shared some sort of grazing platter that was very good - and I think I recall that they bake their bread on location?

I'm guessing you've already sorted out your accomodations, but if not, we LOVED our hotel: Les Cascades de Bantry Bay. It was a quick cab ride (10-15 mins?) away from everywhere we went 'downtown', had an amazing view overlooking the sea, and the breakfasts there were hands-down my favorites of the entire trip: eggs w/ dukkah (explained to me as a spice/seed/nut mix), toast soldiers, and pancetta-wrapped asparagus. Yum!

Where else will you be visiting? Happy to provide any further rec's, as relevant!

#3 Henry in SA

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 08:24 AM

I'd really recommend planning on a few days dining outside the city as a lot of the best places can be found in the country, particularly on wine farms in Stellenbosch or the Hermanus areas, or in Franschhoek (founded by French Huguenots and subsequently the capital of Saffie gastronomy). There really are many to choose from but Overture, Terroir (both Stellenbosch) and Reubens, Le Quartiere Francaise, and La Petite Ferme (all Franschhoek)spring to mind. Closer to Cape Town, but also on a vineyard, La Colombe was recently voted #1 in SA and offers inventive French/SA cuisine.

Back in Town I'd steer clear of the international brands such as Maze and Nobu (both recently opened at the One & Only Hotel) and the majority of straight European/Indian/Asian cuisine places (such as 95 Keerom, Bukhara and Haiku) as, although good in their own right, one can find the same standard or better elsewhere. Rather would recommend the tasting menu at Jardine which, at its best, I rate as offering the most ambitious and complex food in town. Bizerca, as mentioned by Petit Cochon, can be great, while Savoy Cabbage and Five Flies are reliable options.

Not sure I can recommend much in the way of regional cuisine as not the greatest fan of Cape Malay but, as mentioned elsewhere in this branch, the Codfather is a good bet to get to know the differing variety of fish on offer as one can select a plethora of species from the slab, which they cook to your liking. Location in Camps Bay makes it a good lunchtime place near the beach.

Hope you have a great time!

#4 Doc

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 07:50 AM

My husband and I spent our honeymoon in South Africa this past August. You will love it! We only spent a couple of days in Cape Town, so I obviously have a very limited perspective - but I'm happy to share our dining experiences!

We wanted to sample Cape Malay cuisine (your guide book probably provides much better context than I possibly could) and had a fantastic dinner at Bo Kaap Kombuis (which we had inadvertently been mispronouncing terribly, the actual pronunciation - to my American ear - sounded something like 'Boo Cap Kambay'). Our favorite dish was the bobotie - a baked meatloaf-meets-custard type dish which was fantastic because of the deliciously subtle spices. Not spicy, but spiced - my memory of the flavors several months later is that they were almost similar to pumpkin pie spices. Definitely unique. The restaurant also has an incredible view - we were sad that we had to arrive after dark due to a very delayed flight. That being said, the restaurant was happy to change our booking to a later time - turned out that we were one of only two tables in an otherwise empty restaurant (and I think our later dining time wound up being at around 8pm). So, definitely not a vibe-y place, at least when we were there, but we were happy to have had the experience. Oh, and also be aware that they don't serve alcohol.

For our second dinner, we opted to try Bizerca. We wanted to try a spot that seemed like someplace we might eat if we actually LIVED in Cape Town, and, as such, were more interested in trying some local creative cooking than in having a more formal tasting menu-style meal. Obviously not everyone's approach to dining in a new city, but Bizerca lived up to our hopes for the evening. Delicious, intense flavors - I recall loving the oyster dish (local oysters were consistently great throughout SA), fantastic ravioli of some sort, delicious scallop/trotter dish, and an interesting tongue preparation w/ a vinegar-y herb/caper (?) sauce - unfortunately I can't remember more details as this was the very beginning of our 2-week honeymoon and I wasn't taking notes! I do remember that they recommended a pinotage that turned out to be one of our favorites of the trip (we're wine people, but don't know South African wines so had mixed luck). It's also worth noting that this was one of the few restaurants we visited where most patrons seemed to be locals.

We also enjoyed a casual lunch at Manna Epicure - fairly central on Kloof Street and we didn't want to make too much of a production out of lunch since we had limited time to walk around and explore the city. We shared some sort of grazing platter that was very good - and I think I recall that they bake their bread on location?

I'm guessing you've already sorted out your accomodations, but if not, we LOVED our hotel: Les Cascades de Bantry Bay. It was a quick cab ride (10-15 mins?) away from everywhere we went 'downtown', had an amazing view overlooking the sea, and the breakfasts there were hands-down my favorites of the entire trip: eggs w/ dukkah (explained to me as a spice/seed/nut mix), toast soldiers, and pancetta-wrapped asparagus. Yum!

Where else will you be visiting? Happy to provide any further rec's, as relevant!

Thanks so much! That's exactly the info we were looking for. We will also be visiting Franschhoek, Johannesburg and Sabi Sands reserve. Any info appreciated!
-Doc
"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw
My link

#5 Doc

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 07:52 AM

I'd really recommend planning on a few days dining outside the city as a lot of the best places can be found in the country, particularly on wine farms in Stellenbosch or the Hermanus areas, or in Franschhoek (founded by French Huguenots and subsequently the capital of Saffie gastronomy). There really are many to choose from but Overture, Terroir (both Stellenbosch) and Reubens, Le Quartiere Francaise, and La Petite Ferme (all Franschhoek)spring to mind. Closer to Cape Town, but also on a vineyard, La Colombe was recently voted #1 in SA and offers inventive French/SA cuisine.

Back in Town I'd steer clear of the international brands such as Maze and Nobu (both recently opened at the One & Only Hotel) and the majority of straight European/Indian/Asian cuisine places (such as 95 Keerom, Bukhara and Haiku) as, although good in their own right, one can find the same standard or better elsewhere. Rather would recommend the tasting menu at Jardine which, at its best, I rate as offering the most ambitious and complex food in town. Bizerca, as mentioned by Petit Cochon, can be great, while Savoy Cabbage and Five Flies are reliable options.

Not sure I can recommend much in the way of regional cuisine as not the greatest fan of Cape Malay but, as mentioned elsewhere in this branch, the Codfather is a good bet to get to know the differing variety of fish on offer as one can select a plethora of species from the slab, which they cook to your liking. Location in Camps Bay makes it a good lunchtime place near the beach.

Hope you have a great time!

Thanks Henry, Appreciate the info and really looking forward to the visit!
-Doc
"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw
My link

#6 Joel Hicks

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 04:53 AM

Huzzar Grill is excellent for game meats, and has an excellent wine list. If you are not from South Africa, it is all so veryvery cheap.

#7 FDE

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 05:01 PM

I am sure there are many great local cuisines in town, but we only visited the two big names in the country: La Colombe and Le Quartier Francais.

Here are some highlights:

La Colombe

A “tree looking” foie gras and chicken. Across the middle was a thin strip of foie gras terrine with a layer of artichoke in between covered with crushed nuts.
IMG_7116.jpg

Grilled halibut in a superb sweet miso paste with cubes of crunchy slow-cooked carrot, salted fig "XO" dressing, pea & coriander purée, fresh cream and lime mousse, garnished with wild sorrel. Brilliant course!
IMG_7139.jpg

LQF

Our table was surrounded by a nice smokiness from this lightly smoked Algoa Bay oyster resting on a slice of cucumber surrounded by cubes of passion fruit jelly and chorizo.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IP1iRxjtgo

Slow-cooked egg delicately resting on a bed of slippery jack mushroom. This mushroom was definitely one of the highlights of the meal! They also call it South African porcini.
IMG_7403.jpg

As a preview of the next course, they then introduced us to a native South African herb called Buchu. The staff was very informative and we learned a lot about regional wines, herbs and spices throughout the meal.
IMG_7413.jpg

Jerusalem artichoke and Buchu risotto! Buchu is actually a very powerful and aromatic herb! This course simply highlighted this herb. Amazing!
IMG_7414.jpg

------------------------------------------
La Colombe and Le Quartier Francais - It is hard to say which one is better. They are quite different in style. Both are modern French based cuisine but La Colombe had a more oriental (mainly Japanese) influence while LQF had a focus on Africa ingredients.

See HERE for photos/videos of the full meal.
Fine Dining Explorer
www.finediningexplorer.com