This modern restaurant by Liam Tomlin and Ivor Jones burst onto the scene in 2016 to much admiration and acclaim. Watch how and why Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia earned its place in the 2017 Top 10.
Liam Tomlin’s award-winning tapas restaurant has extended its reach to the southern suburbs, where chef Ivor Jones heads up the kitchen, drawing crowds with beautifully crafted small plates. The restaurant made its debut in the Top 10 this year.
Homely, simple dishes these are not. Each one is a layered delight, with big flavours and little flourishes. It’s an ever-changing menu, and you and your dining companions will share the dishes presented to you, usually two at a time, in the order that makes the most sense.
The home-smoked trout with burrata, beetroot dressing, saffron and a garlic emulsion is a light and bright start, which pairs nicely with the plate of tender tuna, autumn citrus, ginger-and-citrus dressing and zingy lime-cured cream cheese. The beef tartare is somewhat overpowered by spicy Szechuan dressing, but makes for a punchy bite.
Chefs Warehouse risottos are always a highlight, and the humble-sounding carrot risotto is no exception. It’s served, as per usual, in a perfect little copper saucepan, glossy with beurre noisette and silky carrot purée, and dotted with crispy sage leaves, raisins and roasted walnuts. The horseradish cream lifts it all. It is a triumph, incredibly delicious and flawlessly executed, and I can’t wait to go back to have it again.
Another comforting vegetarian dish is the oven-roasted cauliflower with earthy Jerusalem artichoke cream and crispy kataifi pasty, and then there’s another seafood option (no complaints by any means) – pan-fried hake with coal-roasted sweet potato and spiced buttermilk cream.
The roasted pork belly (or sweet potato, if you don’t do pork) with lime pickle, queso fresco, toasted rice and coconut crumb is a lively and unusual dish, replete with textures, flavours and fun. The last tapas plate of Persian-spiced lamb rump with pommes anna, mint salsa verde and lamb jus is very good and will please those who are less adventurous.
Desserts cost extra (but are always necessary, especially at Chefs Warehouse), and I can’t forgo my usual favourite of lemon posset with raspberries. However, if you’ve had the wild-honey and lavender crème, you will know why I now have a new favourite. It’s floral but not overpoweringly so, tempered by earthy honey and the slight bitterness of the golden honeycomb shards, as well as smoked cassia bark ice cream, which has a gentle spiciness not unlike cinnamon.
All dishes come on perfectly chosen crockery of varying colours, textures and shapes. They are art in and of themselves.
There are a couple of local ginger beers, Wilderer grappa, Beau Constantia gin, Four Beau Constantia Wines and Pas De Nom. There are two more pages for wine, including Radford Dale, Iona, Raats, Luddite and Vondeling.
The staff members are young and pretty, and keep things moving with personality.
The view is really incredible, with floor-to-ceiling glass showing off the estate’s vineyards and Cape Town’s suburbs rolling towards town on the one side and out to False Bay ahead. The lights twinkle as day moves into night, and you might spot an aeroplane or two taking off or landing in the distance. Soft greys and touches of creamy wood keep everything feeling extremely chic and calm inside. The outside seating areas – amongst some shrubs and the bushes – look gorgeous, with a few private seating areas built out of platforms. Chefs Warehouse has an open kitchen, where you can spot the chefs in high-precision mode. The music, though excellent, seems a little out of character: Rolling Stones, The Cure and Led Zeppelin.
You may have to walk up and down quite a steep paved incline on your way from the parking to the restaurant and back, so it might be a good idea to wear comfortable shoes. (And don’t overindulge in the drinks!)