I’m big on celebration dinners. Anniversaries (1 month, 3 months, 5,5 months…), birthdays, paydays, Mondays, Wednesdays, those rare occasions when payday falls on the last day of the month which happens to be a Friday (magical!) … I’m always up for a dinner at a special restaurant and a glass of bubbly. Don’t buy me things, take me to restaurants, that’s my motto.
Here are three of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town to celebrate a special dinner with a special someone.
Umi in Camps Bay
When you see “ex-Nobu” in a chef’s bio, you know his new restaurant is going to be good. The setting at Umi on the Camps Bay strip is perfect for an early dinner to catch the sunset, but just as stunning after dark. Low lighting, a huge fireplace and a selection of cocktails that will have you flipping a coin just to pick one, make it a great place to spend the evening gazing into your loved ones eyes while tucking into a plate of soft shell crab.
The food is truly some of the best I’ve had in a while and the Asian menu of sushi, seafood delicasies and special steaks will not disappoint. In a city where there is a sushi bar at every steakhouse, Chinese food joint and pizza place, an outstanding plate of sushi is hard to come by, which makes Umi particularly notable.
The bathrooms must get a special mention, as when my boyfriend returned to the table from a visit he said: “Babe, if you want the experience of life time, go to the bathroom”. It must be said, they are luxurious!
When to go: Early evening, special occasions, any time
What to try: The cocktail menu should not be skipped and the memory of the soft shell crab is making my mouth water as I type this. Oh, and the oysters with a trio of salsa…!
Expect to spend: With cocktails and three courses you can expect to spend around R500 per person excluding tip
5 Rooms at The Alphen Hotel in Constantia
It’s not easy dragging city-dwellers out of the comfort and familiarity but of the City Bowl, but 5 Rooms in Constantia is well worth the surprisingly short drive (we tend to forget that the drive out to the Southern Suburbs is really only like 15 minutes when there’s no traffic).
My highlight of the evening was most certainly our waitress, Lizahn. While deciding which bottle of wine to order, she assisted me without being pushy, and after I selected my bottle, gently suggested I try something different, as the particular wine had not been up to standard this vintage. She listened to my tastes and suggested the Springfield Whole Berry, which turned out to be the perfect choice and is certainly a new favourite of mine.
The interior of 5 Rooms is plush and the bar is definitely somewhere I would want to be taken on a first date. The food and mood were fantastic and I cannot fault them. A three-piece jazz band provided the entertainment and the thick carpets and ornate chandeliers and mirrors took us outside of Cape Town all together and into a baroque wonderland.
When to go: They are open for dinner during the week and from 12pm on Sundays
What to try: Ask for Lizahn and let her decide on your wine. We had the oysters to start and I had the salmon for mains. Delicious! Lizahn chose our chocolate dessert and I would have it 40 times over
Expect to spend: With a bottle of wine and three courses you should budget on around R500 per person
Hallelujah in the City Bowl
Absolutely “Cape Town” in every way, Hallelujah in Tamboerskloof is the latest must-try restaurant for any foodie. They don’t take bookings of less than four people and can only seat around 20. If you don’t have a booking, arrive early to be seated at the window.
Based on Asian-style eateries, food is served in small portions, ideal for sharing (my favourite way to eat!). They have an amazing cocktail list too, but their bubbly menu is what’s really interesting. The pink flamingo wallpaper has quickly become their trademark and it’s easy to see why the whole city is buzzing about their food- everything we had was delicious!
When to go: They are open from 6pm. Go early if you don’t have a booking
What to try: Everything! It’s all so good! But my favourite (if I had to choose) were the smoked salmon trout latkes
Expect to spend: If you’re drinking cocktails and bubbly expect that to increase your bill. Ordering around 5 dishes and drinks, expect to spend about R450 per person.