Seasoned chef Henry Vigar, of La Mouette fame, has opened his second restaurant with former La Mouette sous chef Andre Hill. Named Upper Bloem, after the street where Andre grew up, the much-anticipated Green Point restaurant is seasonally led. With this calibre of chefs behind the scenes and a Bo-Kaap-inspired menu, Zola Nene couldn’t wait to get a taste.
Cost: R395 per person for three courses
Parking: Available on the street or in the public parking lot across the road
Best for: Relaxed fine-dining lunch or dinner
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Ambience: 4; Service: 5
The restaurant serves a set menu that is divided into three sections, each consisting of three dishes. Every plate is made to share. The first wave of dishes includes Henry’s signature croquettes, this time flavoured with smoked snoek, accompanied by a lightly cured kabeljou served on a crunchy sago crisp. The Cape Malay-style onions are an ode to pickled fish and have a wonderfully mellow tanginess and spice.
The second wave brings with it delicately spiced carrots served with sharp goat’s cheese. The plump, tender mussels are served in a deliciously light and flavourful broth studded with samphire and spiked with herb oil. The quail ‘Kabaab’, as it’s called on the menu, is a take on the Scotch egg – a soft-boiled egg surrounded by shredded beef on a bed of tender sweet beetroots. It makes for a truly sublime mouthful.
The third wave is the heartiest and richest: duck breast with quince and an almost poppadum-like crisp (on the menu it is referred to as a samosa crisp). The beef short rib is accompanied by crisp nuggets of sweetbreads, as well as thinly sliced pickled tongue and fresh green apple that gently cuts the richness of the dish. A definite highlight is the triple-cooked potatoes. Almost fondant-like in texture, it’s sprinkled with a spicy crumble and I could honestly have eaten an entire bowl of it.
The dessert selection is an optional extra and comes served on a board to share. The ‘After school’ is a fun play on nostalgic tinned fruit with evaporated milk. The strawberry lollies are thin caramels studded with popping candy and satisfyingly bitter curry leaf. There is also a delicious truffle included from My Sugar, a local Sea Point confectionary.
Each item on the menu, with its tastes and textures, is carefully curated to evoke a nostalgic memory. This is a refreshing and honest taste of Cape Town as told through the palate of a Capetonian chef.
The drinks menu is extensive, offering local wines and craft beers. There is also a selection of liquors, including Japanese saké.
The space is beautifully decorated. Tables lined up against the wall allows patrons full view of the open-plan kitchen. The chefs work meticulously and relatively quietly in the kitchen as they plate up the food.
The service staff is well rehearsed and trained, with each having extensive knowledge of the menu. Service is attentive and timely.
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