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Pam’s favourite Cape Town Restaurants – City and close surrounds

Pam’s favourite Cape Town Restaurants – City and close surrounds

Below is my list of the best Cape Town Restaurants located in the central Cape Town area that we call the City Bowl region of the city (as well as a few restaurants close to the city!)

Chefs Warehouse & CanteenPinchos & Wine Bar

MID-FEB 2021 -.  Has re-opened has reinvented themselves and relaunched as a pinchos & Wine Bar   

Heritage Square is in the heart of the new buzzy hood of the city.   It is worth heading there and using the area as a base for a fun evening out.    The Chefs Warehouse in the city changed its offering during the pandemic to allow for people to simply pop in for a glass of wine and a “pincho” (snack) or to stay and work there way through the menu!    We love sitting outside on the terrace enjoying a great glass of wine!

The Chefs Warehouse & Canteen is owned by celebrity Irish Chef Liam Tomlin (of Sydney top restaurant Bank fame).   Liam’s restaurants have been the “hot spot” for Chefs to intern and get their initial experience since he first opened.   He has been a mentor to many of the city’s top chefs and continues to train and uplift people through his kitchens.   Over the years he has formed partnerships with some of the most talented chefs that have passed through his kitchen and as a result he has opened Chefs Warehouse Beau Constantia,  Chefs Warehouse Franschhoek, Chefs Warehouse Tintswalo as well as his Indian inspired restaurant Thali.   Other than the original one in the city – they pretty much all work on the same formula – 8 dishes to share between the two of you.   Each dish at the discretion of the Chef allowing them to be creative and to change the menu as the receive fresh seasonal produce.

All of them are excellent!   My recommendation would be to work your way through all of them!

TIP – in the same area you have LOCAL inside Heritage Square – great for another snack & a glass of wine.   Track down The Drinkery upstairs on the square for cocktails.    Cross the road and find the House of Machines for live music,   pop into the Blues Room for some sultry sounds or find Culture Bar for some more wine!    Location – middle of the city – corner Bree and Shortmarket Street.    OPEN MONDAY NIGHT (usually…..this changes often.

Pots ready! Renovations ready! They are open for pinchos!

Thali

Dec 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.  Thali is co-owned by Chef Liam Tomlin & the owner of the Fat Cactus.   It is located just above the city, just off Kloof Street.   It runs on the same concept as The Chefs Warehouse restaurants  – 8 tapas dishes to share  – between 2 people.  All the dishes on the menu are however inspired by Indian spices.   There are options for vegetarian and vegans here (which are permanently on the menu).   I love this spot!!!   It is once again a wonderful flavour journey – but far more spicy than the normal Chefs Warehouse dishes!  And I love spicy!  I love the decor here – Moroccan inspired decor.  Contemporary and colourful and fun.   They do not take bookings.    

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell

Dec 2021:  OPEN.   Seafood – fresh and simple!  This is our favourite outdoor table in Cape Town!  We can be found  relaxing here with a plate of oysters & bubbles throughout summer!  It is our happy place.  It is owned by a couple who owned an award winning seafood restaurant in a fishing harbour near Aberdeen in Scotland.  They sold their restaurant in Scotland, came on a sabbatical to Cape Town and fell in love with our city…..and stayed!   They aim to serve the freshest seafood in town – and are happy to reprint the menu a few times a day when new fish comes in.   They also have the best oysters in town.  It has a  festive atmosphere in summer and is a great spot to meet up with friends at the long shared outside table on the pavement.They are a seafood bistro – so they aim to keep things simple and to allow you to taste the flavours of the fish.  Their oyster happy hour is half price per shuck from 5 to 6pm – so don’t miss it! (The happy hour is also over lunchtime for oysters from 12 – 1pm).  This is one of our favourite spots in Cape Town and we can be found at the outside table regularly in the early evening in summer!  Note the outdoor seating cannot be booked and you are welcome to join the festive outdoor table.    Open daily for dinner.   Open for lunch &  dinner on a Saturday & SUNDAY

Grub & Vine

Dec 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.

Grub & Vine by Chef Matt Manning serves refined bistro-style fare, in a relaxed, contemporary space.   Grub & Vine’s seasonal menu changes regularly and the wine list features some of South Africa’s most respected producers.  “No-nonsense, good grub. Beautiful produce and honest cooking” – Chef Matt Manning.    After visiting for a multi course lunch – his philosophy caught the essence of his philosophy completely.   It was a celebration of freshness from start to finish.   I think what I enjoy has changed with age – I am over foams and over fiddled food – my body craves freshness – I love meals that have an abundance of fresh produce.   I like to eat real food that is freshly harvested.   I love food with flavour.   Matt met this brief on all levels.   At lunchtime one can order one course or do a mix of half courses to enjoy more flavours.  Note that they have now opened a sexy wine bar next door called CULTURE.   Make sure you head there early for a glass of wine before dinner or head there after dinner!

Grub & Vine Summer Vegetable Salad
Grub & VIne – Sea Bass, Burrata and Salsa Verde
Yellowfin tuna nicoise salad
Hake! The best hake dish I have ever tasted
Lamb with naughty lamb fat potatoes!

For dinners one needs to do a minimum of two courses.   Note that Matt has opened a hands on cooking studio upstairs.  He also has a private dining room that can be booked for dinners or parties – it can seat 20 people.   In the same block a wonderful wine bar has opened called Frogitt & Vonkel.   They offer wines from smaller estates by the glass or by the bottle.  This is a great addition to the city as we have a limited amount of wine bars!    Location – 103 Bree Street – city centre Cape Town (upstairs!).  Note that you can book online for dinner at Grub & Vine.   Dinner bookings are open from late afternoon for those who fancy and early dinner!

Fyn Restaurant

Dec 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.

Chef Peter Templehoff  brings over 20 years of experience to the new restaurant – Fyn – a contemporary inner city restaurant located on top of a building in Church Square.  Chef Peter is the owner and talented Chef behind  The Greenhouse, which is one of the Top 10 restaurants in South Africa.     The word Fyn means FINE in English – it could also be a shortened version of Fynbos – our indigenous cuisine.   The two pivotal team members in this venture will be  Executive Chef Ashley Moss (his head chef at The Greenhouse for 4 years) and Jennifer Huge (Former La Colombe Restaurant manager).    I loved my dining experience at Fyn! 

The venue is gorgeous –  funky & contemporary in design.   The tables have no table cloths and no clutter.  They simply have your chopsticks on a plate.  Everything about it is sexy.    They started us off with a lovely glass of champagne in a wonderful old fashioned champagne glass – it felt so elegant.   The dinner is a tasting menu.  Approx Price R1175 for the food and you can opt to do the wine flight at R750.   The dishes were all delicious and each had was fun and innovative.   The service was warm, relaxed, friendly, knowledgeable and unobtrusive.   Perfect!  Our Italian friends commented on how lovely it was to have such a wonderful fine dining dinner in such a relaxed environment.   They loved the warm and friendly service.    A wonderful foodie journey.   They have now incorporated a lot more local ingredients and flavours into the dishes. 

Watching the kitchen and the bottom floor of the restaurant from above

Canapés from bento – Daikon maki & a white fish sushi
Canapés from Bento – Prawn samosa and spicy chicken
Squid Ramen, game fish, Quail with glazed eel & pickled cucumber……..all were delicious! I loved drinking the ramen from the bowl!

This is a great addition to the Cape Town fine dining scene!  I would highly recommend that you book it immediately for when you visit Cape Town.  Click here to make a  booking!  

Upper Bloem

mid Feb 2021:  CLOSED DOWN.

 Shio 

CLOSED DOWN DEC 2020

Bao Down

Dec 2021 STATUS:  OPEN

Is owned by Phillipa and Graham Oldfield – Phillipa had a catering business and Graham is the former head chef for Chefs Warehouse in the city.    As the name indicates – they do Bao & Asian style street food with a western twist.   Chef Graham is a wonderfully talented Chef and every morsel melted in our mouths!   My recommendation is to go with some friends – that way you can order and taste the whole menu!   Note that ordering many small dishes does add up!   But it is worth every cent!   Yummmmmmmmmmmm.    Phillipa and Graham have done a wonderful job with the decor.   It is relaxed, quirky and fun.   I love the space they created.   Even better for us is that it is across the road from where we live!   So we will be happy Bao groupies forever!  Location – they have moved to Greenpoint.

Janse & Co

Closed down – new tapas spot opening in its space in December 2020

La Tête 

Feb 2021 STATUS:  CLOSED DOWN.

Mulberry & Prince 

FEB 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.

Beautiful decor, intimate & owner run – the owners met at the International Culinary institute in Manhattan.  Hip eatery.  Part of the Bree Street City revolution – over 40 restaurants have opened on this inner city street over the last two years – literally transforming the city from a business district into a really fun zone for eating, drinking and playing!  Small shared plate dining – they call this Modern American Dining.   Beautiful restaurant and beautiful food.     Open Wednesday to Friday from 8am to 3pm for walk ins and Saturday & Sunday for brunch – only with bookings on the weekend. OPEN SUNDAY FOR BRUNCH

Jan Innovation Studio

Feb 2021 STATUS:  They have no scheduled dinners coming up in the innovation studio – you can however book it for an exclusive dinner party. 

The innovation studio opens occasionally for shared dining – it is good to follow them on their social media and to check out their booking schedule.   They offer dinner at one shared table of 16.  Cost R3500 per person and you can simply book for two people to join the table – you do not need to take the whole table.   The cost includes a 7 course menu paired with fine & rare wines.  As this venue is his innovation studio and the base for his journal – the venue is only open to the public on very specific dates.   There are a small number of dates still free – head here to check the availability and for upcoming dates.   As of Jan 2021 there are no new dates up yet

Just in case you missed out on knowing who Chef Jan is ……………..Chef Jan is the first South African Chef to be awarded a Michelin Star.    He has a restaurant Jan in  Nice, France.    Just after he won his Michelin star – a documentary series was shot about him in his native Afrikaans language.   I think all those that watched the series fell a little in love with this magical creative man who is sharing his South African heritage through his restaurant in France.

Belly of the Beast

Feb 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.

This is a not so new anymore!  However I have still not managed to secure a booking at this wildly popular little spot – so I am leaving it on the list!   It is in the new emerging Eastside District of Cape Town.  They are located in Harrington Street –  literally on the fringe of the city – being parallel to Buitenkant Street.  This hood has now become really cool as it is home to Harringtons, The Raptour Room, Lefty’s…New York Bagels, Naked Foods….and more!  Belly of The Beast is a great addition to the hood.   It is a beautifully decorated small restaurant that seats 20 people.   So it is a wonderfully intimate space. It is owned by two chefs who are friends.   They focus on nose to tail dining – so they aim to have a zero wastage kitchen.

They are however happy to accommodate vegetarians – but need to know in advance! This is definitely a tasting menu strategy – they however do not commit to how many courses they will feed you!  The current cost is R599 without wine.   They are fully booked 6 weeks in advance.   So plan ahead!!  Book online and come and experience it for yourself.   I must get my booking in! OPEN SUNDAY AND MONDAY NIGHT – a rare thing to find in Cape Town!    

Utopia Dining Elevated

Feb 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.

Wow – this has the great combo of the best views of Cape Town – and a good Chef.   This spot will make you want to sling on the heels and head here to watch the sun set and enjoy the views.  Utopia has taken over from the Vue bar.   It has transitioned from a bar to a gorgeous restaurant.   Chef Pavel Dimitrov, is one of the owners of Utopia.   He worked in Cape Town for Pigalle and for NV-80 – both of which are famous for their seafood and steak.

I was super lucky to be invited to come and check out the venue,  I got to meet Chef Pavel and to try four of his fantastic dishes.   I loved all of the flavours he used and could have scraped each dish so that they would not end!   The photos  will give you an idea of my fabulous tasting journey in the sky above Cape Town.   Make sure you book as this is a really special space!

Utopia Elevated Dining – a wonderfully warm welcome
The amazing view at Utopia Dining Elevated
Salmon & Caviar Starter – fresh & delicious

Utopia – the delicious prawns!

The Grand Cafe & Beach Granger Bay 

Feb 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.

Pizza & Salad at The Grand!

This is my absolute favourite place to  kick back, relax and have that holiday feeling. It is all about the amazing setting and ambiance that has been created here. They took an old abandoned building – lobster shed – and kept the exterior as it was while restyling the interior completely. The interiors are funky and fun. The exterior has a large terrace for tables and a fake beach has been created to overlook Table Bay and the Waterfront area. Add couches and chairs on the beach, with a great cocktail menu and you have a winning formula! Ratings on the food seem to vary from average to nice. We usually stick to the pizzas and salads, which are quite good – we go for the vibe, not the food! This spot makes you feel like the summer holiday has started!  It is great fun for all ages.   So, book for lunch or dinner – but whatever you do – make sure you make a booking as it is the favourite place for the locals to visit, as well as the visitors to our city! (note you can go for drinks without booking).  For Reservations – you can book online or call 021 425 0551.    Closed on Mondays and Sunday night

COWBOYS & COOKS

STATUS – OPEN FEB 2021.    They launched in De Waterkant November 2019.   Sexy shop.  Sexy decor.  Fabulous service.  Meat specialists…….with a twist!   This is a steak house that also has a good selection of game meat options – as well as a good selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes.   As such you will be able to bring all your friends for dinner.   I had the steak – first visit – so I had to try the signature proposition – “upmarket steakhouse – Jozi Style”.   This restaurant delivered on every level.  The steak was fantastic.  Perfectly cooked, perfect basting sauce.   Delicious!!  We had a fabulous evening at Cowboy & Cooks De Waterkant.    Michael Townsend is back after selling his Harbour House group.    Michael is a talented Restaurateur who has a magical touch with every restaurant he starts.  (There are already a couple of Cowboys & Cooks!)

Cowboy & Cooks De Waterkant

Black Sheep

Feb 2021 STATUS:  OPEN.  This is an absolute local favourite -it was the first proper gourmet gastropub to launch in Cape Town.   This spot is vibey and needs to be booked a few days before you plan to go.  It is nearly always fully booked.  It is a great spot to meet up with a  few mates for a fun evening out. The food is really good, and you will see people eating in all parts of the bar – which is always a good sign!  Note that the do split seatings at dinner time – so either an early slot or a slightly late time slot for dinner.  Closed on Sundays.  104 Kloof Street Tel no+27 (021) 426 2661 / 426 2753 OPEN MONDAY NIGHT    

95 Keerom

Closed down in the city for now.  It may re-open in the future.  He is keeping his Constantia Restaurant.

Carne

Update FEB 2021:  Carne on Kloof Street is OPEN.  CARNE on Keerom Street is currently still closed.  .

Owned by Chef Giorgio Nava, the successful restaurateur and owner of the highly rated 95 Keerom Restaurant.  Carne is a northern Italian style steak house.  Giorgia Nava has taken steakhouses to a new height of glamour with this venture.  The restaurant features a stylish bar upstairs for drinks before dinner, before you descend into the basement area for dinner.  This room has funky plastic transparent chairs and is just simple and chic.   The meat for the main course was brought out raw on a platter in all of its glory.  The waiter explained the different cuts and that all of the meat was dry aged.  We opted for the T-Bone served as it is in Florence, ie a huge T-Bone that they slice and serve on two platters.  It was the best steak I have had for years.  I love  the CARNE BISTRO On Kloof Street.   Carne on Kloof has a great vibe and a  cafe ambience – plus great meat and a lovely outside area for seating. 153 Kloof  Street. Perfect for summer.  

The Lord Nelson Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel 

FEB 2021 – The Lord Nelson Hotel Restaurant is currently closed & so is the Chefs Table. 

Talented Chef Rudi Liebenberg has been impressing the “foodies” in Cape Town with his cooking at The Mount Nelson Hotel for many years now. You can opt to dine in the main restaurant – which has a wonderfully refined old world feel featuring chairs from the original Union Castle Shipping liner that owned the hotel.  Here you can enjoy 2 to 4 courses.  OR to have some foodie fun book the Chefs Table in the kitchen.  Open daily – evenings only.  Mount Nelson Hotel. 76 Orange Street.  OPEN ON A MONDAY NIGHT    

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