Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Food in Cape Town

This is a continuation of our Munich & South Africa trip. You can find the full trip itinerary here.

Fork Tapas 
84 Long Street  Cape Town 8000, South Africa

Fork was located on Long St, which reminded me of Bourbon St in Louisiana. There's lots of restaurants and bars around, but not sure if I would walk around here at night.

We made a reservation at 7 PM, but it was not necessary since it appeared that people didn't come until much later. We asked to be seated outdoors on the balcony.

We got a few dishes to share and they were quite good. The style of Fork was tapas, so the dishes were small, meant to be shared. The price was pretty reasonable, with prices range from 40-60 Rand ($6-$8) per dish. 

Fork Menu

Our waiter looked really young but he was very friendly and eager to please.  The first dish we ordered was aubergine, sweet potato and chickpea coconut curry. The dish had a strong Indian influence and was quite tasty.

Aubergine, sweet potato and chickpea coconut curry

We also ordered the rocket salad, which turned out to be arugula (one of my favorite types of greens) which was fresh and refreshing!

The next dish was the raviolione with ricotta, spinach, and poached egg. It was served with sage butter and chilli. The raviolione was actually only one piece, slightly bigger than a typical ravioli. It was creamy and delicious.

Raviolione with ricotta, spinach, and poached egg

We then got the beef fillet with crispy onion which was awesome! It was probably our most favorite dish of the night. The beef was bite sized and cooked perfectly!

To top the night off, we shared a pavlova dessert which was a sweet crispy merengue. It was surprisingly not too sweet and it worked well with the slightly tart strawberries.

We enjoyed the meal at Fork and the price was reasonable. Our total bill including tax was $46.84.

Afternoon Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel
76 Orange Street  Cape Town 8001, South Africa

I LOVE afternoon tea and enjoy any kind of high tea there is. When I heard about the Mount Nelson, I knew I had to try this place! The Mount Nelson is a luxury hotel that is famous for their afternoon tea. Unlike other afternoon tea places that I've been, this place actually served it buffet style.

Reservations were recommended and of course I made one. :) As soon as we walked in, we saw the famous buffet table filled with sandwiches, cookies, scones, pastries, cakes, and fruit. 

The room was decorated very elegantly and it really had that old world charm, but not pretentious. The place was actually really crowded, and for the first time, Dan was not the only guy in the room. :) 

We chose inside seating but the outdoor seating looked very nice as well. I think the terrace seating area was quite lovely since you are still close to the buffet area, but have that outdoor feel.

Our waiter was very courteous and polite. I ordered a strawberry vanilla tea and Dan had the house blend.  We then went straight ahead to the buffet table! 

Our tea came and the waiter gave specific instructions on how long we should leave the tea in and how we should drink it. He told me not to put milk in my tea but I did anyway, and he must have known something because the milk somewhat disintegrated....but still tasted good :p

Here's a picture of my first plate. I think I ended up going 3-4 times since it was so good!!! 
I got the pancake with strawberry jam and lemon curd, smoked salmon sandwich, egg salad sandwich, spinach pie, sweet biscuit with fruit filling, red velvet cupcake, macaroon, and chicken salad mini burger.

The sandwiches were excellent! The bread was soft and the filling was just the right amount. My favorite thing was the sweet biscuit with fruit filling, so so so good!

Here's a picture of Dan's selection: similar to mine but a bit different. :p He got a couple sandwiches, the sweet biscuit, macaroon, chocolate cake, cheesecake, and fruit.

As I previously mentioned, we probably each had 3-4 plates full. They were so yummy and as an afternoon tea lover, this place was really good.

The Test Kitchen
Shop 104 A, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town

The Test Kitchen is a new restaurant by the famed chef Luke Dale Roberts, previously of La Colombe. This restaurant came highly recommended on the forum so I had to try it. I made reservations months in advance and was able to secure a table.

The Test Kitchen was located at the old biscuit mill factory, which was around 15-20 minutes drive from our hotel. We took a taxi there and I have to say, the area was very sketchy. We weren't even sure that we were in the right place since it was really dark. Our taxi driver was really nice and insisted on escorting us to the restaurant to make sure. Thankfully we found it, and once we saw some people inside and that the restaurant actually looked quite nice, we both breathed a sigh of relief. :p

The restaurant reminded us a lot of modern/innovative restaurants in the US. The kitchen was open and we actually saw the chef himself. We also saw an Asian cook who seemed happy to see us and said hi to us...haha.

The restaurant menu had a 3, 5, or 8 course option. We went with the 3 course option (which ended up being 5-6 courses if you count all the amuse bouches and the sorbet cleanser).

The price for the 3 course menu was R375 (which is less than USD 50), a very reasonable price if you compare to a comparable restaurant in the US.

Instead of a typical bread basket, we were given 3 different starters which included a blue cheese puff, cheese cracker, and a bite sized chocolate cube that was actually savory.

After that, we got a complimentary amuse bouche that was a salmon sashimi with crispy strings (not quite sure what it was), but was really good! It definitely was a good start to the meal.

I ordered the salmon sashimi for first course and Dan ordered the sweet potato dish. The salmon sashimi was served with pickled cabbage and jelly. The cabbage was a bit sour which was a great contrast to the sashimi.

The sweet potato dish was also good.  Here's the description from the menu: Wood fired organic sweet potatoes, parsean creme catalan, fine beans and brussel sprouts.

In between the first and second courses, we were given complimentary apple sorbets with diced apples and apple jelly. It was a refreshing pallet cleanser and quite innovative to actually have apples prepared 3 different ways.

For the main course, I had the beef and Dan had the pork dish. The beef and pork were amazing!! I loved the fact that there were 4 different types of beef on my plate: brisket, fillet, crispy sweetbread, and tongue. The risotto was also the perfect accompaniment.

Test Kitchen Bollito Misto

Dan also loved his pork dish.  One piece had a crunchy outside skin and super tender inside. Another piece was juicy and soft.  The other items on the plate, like the beans, nut-crusted and other pate-like consistency things (I can't remember exactly what they were) were also tasty and added to the overall deliciousness.

Test Kitchen Black Forest Pork

For dessert I ordered the "TK mess" which was a marshmallow with fruit, merengue, and sorbet. It was quite good when I got a bite of everything all together.

"TK Mess"

Dan's dessert was cashew cake with cashew ice cream which was amazing! The cashew & olive cake was the perfect consistency and was such a pleasant flavor, and combined with the cashew ice cream it was just heavenly.

Frozen cashew and cinnamon parfait, pistachio butter, pistachio and olive cake

To top it off, the chef sent a post dessert dish which looked exactly like our pre-appetizer. It was in fact a contrasting dish, with everything being a sweet version.  How clever!

We were quite blown away by this meal and the quality of the food was amazing, and on par with some of the best meals we have had. The total bill for us including tip and a glass of wine was around 900 rand ($120) which is a great deal for "fine dining." 

Shop 6132 Lower Level Victoria Wharf, Cape Town, South Africa

When researching for sushi restaurant, almost everyone on the Trip Advisor forum recommended Willoughby & Co. Granted the name is more Irish rather than Japanese, but we decided to try it anyway. The location was a bit unassuming being right in the middle of the V&A Waterfront Mall, but it was actually a pretty popular place judging by the crowds.

There's an inside seating (bar area) or an "outside" seating, which means you are in the middle of the mall's walkway, although you do get a regular table versus a bar table.

We got seated at the bar area, and one of the hostesses walked around and offered a free tasting of white wine, so we got one! There was a Western menu as well as a Japanese menu.

We ordered the Japanese platter for two. It did take a while for them to bring us our order, but we were happy when we saw the platter. It was HUGE!  Definitely more than enough for two people. There were chicken skewers, beef steak, miso salmon, salmon rose, inari with crabmeat, california roll with fried tempura and mayo, a bowl of edamame, and salmon & tuna sashimi!

Willoughby's Japanese Platter for 2

Overall food quality was solid. It was a bit pricey but we did get a huge platter!

54 Colinton Road, Cape Town 7700, South Africa

Myoga has a permanent 7 course menu for 225 Rand (30 USD), which is quite a steal. (Again, comparing prices to fine dining restaurants in the US.)  We weren't sure if we wanted the 7 course meal since we just had the Test Kitchen the day before. Since we already made reservations, we decided to go for it anyway. Myoga was located at the Vineyard hotel, which was a bit far out from the city center. It was raining that night and our taxi from the Westin to the Vineyard cost 200 Rand, which cost almost the same as the meal itself!

Supposedly there is a nice view when the weather is nice. Unfortunately, it was raining when we came and it was already dark outside, so we had no view. :p We got seated immediately on a window facing table. The room was already pretty full.  The ambiance was quite nice, and the majority of the patrons were older couples.

We both went with the 7 course menu and overall thought the dishes were solid.  The cooking style was traditional with a touch of Asian twist.  Some of the pictures we took were a bit dark, so I'll just post some of them and not the whole 7 course set. :)

Here's the format of our meal:
1st course: mouth tickler
2nd course: starter
3rd course: salad
4th course: pasta
5th course: cleanser
6th course: mains
7th course: sweets

There were 4-5 options under each course and each customer could choose any option. Dan & I chose different options, so we had 14 different dishes in total.

Chorizo Risotto

One of my favorites was the chorizo risotto which had porcini mushrooms, truffle oil, peas, and lemon butter. It was creamy and slightly cheesy. Just perfect!

spinach and walnut salad, toasted croutons, apple, grapes, blue
cheese and fig vinaigrette

The spinach and walnut salad was also excellent. All the ingredients tasted fresh and the creamy dressing tied everything perfectly.

Cleanser: pomegranate and watermelon sorbet

I had the spicy whitefish for my main. And even though it was good, I told Dan it reminded me of airplane food, a good one. Dan tasted my fish and said it DID NOT taste like airplane food. :)

spicy whitefish, sticky rice, salted black beans, peppers, avgolemono

Dan really liked his beef fillet. He said it was cooked perfectly. We noticed the tomato sorbet on the plate, and it was a bit "interesting" - not our cup of tea.

beef fillet, crushed potato, porcini and peppercorn sauce, butter
poached carrots with tomato sorbet on the side

I got the vanilla bean shortbread which was good.

vanilla crème brûlèe, with white chocolate and stone fruit short bread

Dan wanted to get a "lighter" dessert, so he went with the sorbet selection.

sorbet selection

Our total bill with the 7 course meals, a glass of wine, and tip came out to R688 (90 USD), which was definitely a bargain for such an elaborate meal. We both said we preferred the Test Kitchen over Myoga. However, Myoga is definitely a good deal and the dishes were solid, although not as cutting edge as Test Kitchen.

  • We really liked the food in Cape Town-- it's definitely a great town for self-proclaimed foodies such as ourselves. :) There were tons of great options for quite reasonable prices. The proximity to the winelands also meant that a lot of great food options were within reasonable distance from the city. 
  • Cape Town food had a lot of European, Indian, and Malay influences. 
  • It appeared that people generally ate later. Restaurants weren't full until around 8 PM-ish. We usually like to eat earlier around 7 PM, and the restaurants were usually empty then.
  • For most of the popular places, reservations are recommended. For places like the Test Kitchen, it is advisable to book months in advance.
  • We always had to order water at restaurants, and they always bring out bottled water (still or sparkling). Unlike in the US, water was not included, and we always had to pay for it.
  • Tips are customary in South Africa, typically around 10%.
  • We had the best meal of our trip in Cape Town at the Test Kitchen. If you are in Cape Town, definitely make reservations a few months out and check out this place!
  • We wished we had tried an "African" place for dinner one night in Cape Town, such as Africa Cafe or Mama Africa. Thankfully we did go to a local restaurant later on in our trip (in Johannesburg).
Next Post: Maison D'Ail Guesthouse

1 comment:

  1. The Mount Nelson is one of the famous luxury hotel in the city and more popular for afternoon tea that is served as buffet style. Thanks for sharing such kind of things with us.
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