So I’m sure you, dear reader, know that I make a point of eating at as many of Cape Town’s new hotspots as possible. Because I love food and wine and eating out, and because I justify my habit by calling it “work” or “research”. I’m quite into fine dining, so the surge of new low-key fine dining spots to hit the Cape Town scene have left my wallet empty and my belly deliciously full.
Loads of people have been asking me on Twitter: “Mulberry & Prince, Shortmarket Club or ASH?” and now that I’ve finally eaten at all three, I can give you my honest opinion on where to spend your hard earned cash on your next dining experience.
Mulberry & Prince
Widely publicised pre-opening as the most beautiful new restaurant in Cape Town, Mulberry & Prince quickly became popular for their stunning interior and New York-style cuisine.
The vibe: The restaurant is small and intimate and truly beautiful. The colour palate of dusty pinks, gunmetals and golds are really unique in Cape Town and offer a gorgeous backdrop to your meal. It’s dimly lit at night, so makes for a good romantic spot.
The food: I went with Keenan and another couple and we ordered almost everything on the menu, to share. The food was definitely delicious, and everything was quite rich. I don’t really remember a stand-out, which is why I haven’t been back. The menu is quite meat-heavy, so not the best for vegetarians.
The drinks: They didn’t have a liquor license by the time we went, so we took our own wine. We were really disappointed to see that they were charging R35 corkage per bottle -if your restaurant doesn’t have a license yet, it seems unfair to charge patrons for their own wine.
The service: Service was friendly and accommodating.
The price: I think we spent around R400 – R450 pp, which was mainly because we ordered so many items.
The highlight: All in all, it’s a great restaurant and worth a try if you’re into eating out. As I said, there wasn’t one main thing that has made me go back yet.
12 Pepper Street
+27 21 422 3301
The talk of the town in the weeks leading up to opening night, Shortmarket Club is Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Club’s new venture.
The vibe: The restaurant is big, with leather booths and an open, theatrical kitchen. There’s some really stunning art on the walls, make sure you have a look up-close when you visit. It’s set between The House of Machines and Outrage of Modesty, two of Cape Town’s best bars, which makes this little strip of Shortmarket Street seriously hot property.
The food: We had three starters to share; asparagus with miso hollandaise, cevice and carpaccio and I absolutely loved them all. Keenan had lamb with pine nuts for mains and I had the mussels starter for my main dish. For dessert we shared the selection from the cheese trolley and Keenan had the very impressive chocolate souffle. The food was absolutely perfect. I’m going through a phase where I’m craving light food, so having these fresh options on the menu was perfect for me.
The drinks: The wine list is extensive and well curated, with a selection of fine wines from South Africa’s top regions, including the very trendy Swartland. The wine list is pricey, but I appreciate having an excellent sommelier on hand to ask for recommendations, which makes the wine list even more exciting. We ordered a bottle of one of my favourites, the Cape Point Vineyards Chardonnay, which retails for R150 online, but R660 on the menu. Keenan asked the sommelier to recommend a glass of red for his main, which was a great option.
The service: I get really excited about service, which can make or break a dining experience. The service at Shortmarket Club was flawless, from the online booking procedure, all the way through. From our waiter to the sommelier to the manager checking in, you can really tell that the staff are the cream of the crop.
The price: We were invited, so our bill was covered, but the starters are between R95 – R130, mains are R140 – R290 and desserts R80 – R110. The cheese trolley, which is a must-do if you’re a turophile like me, costs R160 for a selection of four amazing local cheeses.
The highlight: For me, the service was really something to write home, or more likely on my blog, about. The food was very, very good, especially the mussels. I would definitely go back.
88 Shortmarket Street
+27 21 447 28 74
Located in the Publik Wine Bar/Frankie Fenner Meat Market space, ASH is very hot right now. The theme of the restaurant is charcoal-cooked, but in my opinion it should be food-paired-with-wine.
The vibe: It’s a very cool space, located in a very cool part of town. What used to be the big Frankie Fenner butchery has turned into a small restaurant, with a view of the kitchen. On the night we went, the entire space was filled with magazine people and the cool crowd of the city.
The food: The food is rich rich rich, with loads of bone marrow and meat and jus. We ordered tons of items off the menu and it was all delish. In my current phase of lighter cravings though, I found it a bit lacking in terms of fresher items.
The drinks: For me, this is the best part of the whole experience. With the famed David Cope at the helm of Publik Wine Bar in the same room, the wine offering is unmatched. We decided to ask David to recommend a bottle of wine to go with what we’d ordered, and he brought us three light reds to blind taste at the table. I loved this, and of course we ended up favouring the most expensive bottle – there were no complaints, as it was delicious.
The service: Service was good, obviously the wine vibe was exceptional. Chef Ash came to our table, but it seemed to pain her so much that it made us all feel pretty awkward.
The price: We spent quite a bit, probably around R500-R550 pp, but we had quite a bit of wine and totally over-ordered.
The highlight: The wiiiiiine.
81 Church Street
+27 21 424 7204