The Roundhouse in Camps Bay may just have the most beautiful view in all of Cape Town – so when news broke that The Test Kitchen’s Luke Dale-Roberts and Ryan Cole were planning to open Salsify at the historic location, excitement for the potential of this combination reached fever pitch. Katharine Pope just had to nab a table on the restaurant’s first night of service to get a taste of what’s to come at Salsify at The Roundhouse.
Cost: R825 for the 5-course menu and an additional R290 for wine pairing. R230 for average à la carte main meal
Parking: There’s parking on the steep road, but beware: cars with excessively low clearance might struggle with the speed bumps on the dirt road below
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Ambience: 5; Service: 5
We opt for the à la carte menu, in the interest of tasting the greatest possible variety of dishes. To start, there’s a beetroot amuse-bouche – a little scroll filled with mustard cream and lovely sprouted mustard seeds that pop in the mouth, and another one with the lovely fresh flavour of celeriac.
For starters we try the assiette of suckling pig, which pairs well with morsels of salted apple and num num. We also order the roasted quail breast, which comes with a perfect jammy Scotch egg made with a quail egg.
For mains, the pan-seared springbok is beautiful, while the Peking duck breast has some great complex flavours from salted sour plums and walnuts. For main courses, the portions are rather small. While I do prefer leaving a restaurant wanting more rather than being overstuffed, those with hearty South African appetites may wish that they had a little more to line their bellies with.
For dessert, the dark chocolate soufflé is impressive, served with a gorgeously creamy quenelle of milk chocolate ice cream. My favourite pud, though, is the roasted pineapple. It goes beautifully with the tiny coriander sprouts, tangy kefir snow and torn crumbs of dense coconut cake.
All the dishes are fairly complex, with several elements, gels and shards. I’d like to see them simplified a little – distilled into their tastiest quadrants – but this is day one, and there’s plenty of time for evolution.
Sommelier Nash Kanyangarara is a great new addition to the team. His one-page wine list will expand with time, but already has some wonderful interesting bottles to try, with a by-the-glass option for each varietal. There are also two cocktails.
Perched on the lower slopes of Lion’s Head, the Roundhouse building looks out over Camps Bay’s leafy glen to the ocean and Twelve Apostles mountains. At sunset, golden light streams through the trees, the mountains turn purple and the sea glows. The space overlooking the incredible view has been kept beautifully classic – featuring white tablecloths and Persian rugs – but the entrance room and back lounge have been given an electric shock with some more modern graffiti by Louis de Villiers (AKA Skull Boy). It’s a fun entrance that paves the way for the team in the kitchen to do something slightly more pared down and modern in the future.
Despite it being day one, everything works like clockwork. The staff, led by former The Test Kitchen general manager Markus Fiedler, are warm, well-informed, and evidently excited to be there. It’s infectious.
* A ‘first taste’ is a review conducted in the first couple of weeks of opening, when it is expected that the team will still be finding their feet and other small changes may still occur.
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