Chef Jonathan Duiker has boosted Café del Sol TRE, the newest of three Café del Sol restaurants, to new heights, says Eat Out critic Marie-Lais Emond. While each of the Treccani family eateries features the comforts of Italian food with extra finesse, and each has a unique character that emerges in the décor and menus, Duiker will make his mark on them all, as the group’s recently appointed executive chef. But for now, make the most if his stay at the Café del Sol TRE in Parkhurst.
Average price for a main course: R160
Parking: It’s Parkhurst, so find a spot on the street
Best for: A little bit of an occasion
Star rating: Food 4, service 4, ambience 4
Kick off your day with slow-cooked, creamy coconut oats in a dish called Toot, Toot, Tootsie. Indeed, a toot of whisky cream is one of five the topping options, but the combo of rosewater syrup, fresh berries and coconut cream is highly recommended. All your fave breakfasts are here, like the eggs Benedict, the dramatic Under the Blanket, with an egg-white omelette, homemade tomato chutney, mozzarella, caramelised onion and pale mushrooms. Breakfast bubbles are par for this course.
Café del Sol TRE lunches and dinners can be composed from the same menu. The afternoon snacks are unusual too; think polenta fingers with dipping sauces. The fun titles for the dishes belie the seriousness of the chef’s knowledge of flavours – not all faithfully Italian by any means. Guests can choose from traditional sections like carpaccio, gnocchi, risotto and pasta, but will find many surprises on the plate.
Two generations of producing risottos within the Treccani family doesn’t go amiss. The oxtail risotto is perfection, every rice pearl perfect, the richness seeped in, with bright confetti of crisped root vegetable shavings lying lightly on top. The Black Lightning papardelle, made on site, of course, is silky with whisky, mushrooms and cream flavours, plus a truffly hint, resting on a forest floor of crispy, earthy and dark mushroom rubble.
A carpaccio that cannot be beaten for flavour, Makin’ Whoopee, sports layers of sweet vegetables and sour fruit, with salty pistachios and goat’s cheese. Also try the super salads and a great main of sous-vide rooibos-smoked duck, served with grilled spring peaches, smoky jus and richly buttered mash with real vanilla.
A dessert special that has made it onto the menu for good reason is a wondrously naughty arrangement in glass of homemade fig ice cream, gorgonzola mousse, grape or pomegranate pearls, and crisp pumpkin-seed melba toast. If you love affogato, the version here has all the tastes, textures and temperatures in one stunning caffeine feast.
There are 20 gin cocktails slung by mixologist Julian Short, and there are gins on tap. There’s a full menu of wines by the glass, which is fun for celebrating each dish differently. On it are loads of French bubbles (including Taittinger), prosecco, SA MCCs (including a Jacques Bruére at R55 a glass), as well as a very intriguing selection of reds and whites from SA and France. For something lighter, sip on mixed juices or Illy coffee.
It’s bound to be good at Café del Sol TRE, with Ryan and Chiara, or even their mother Luciana in the vicinity. Food and drinks arrive surprisingly swiftly, staff are engaging, and booking and paying is a dream.
“It’s our wild child,” says Luciana proudly of the art-deco restaurant. “Our grand passion.” The golden Chrysler-building-style deco elements work well in restaurants and this one has curated them more carefully into pelmets, seating and glass detailing. The slightly wicked décor is a large part of the glitzy attraction, and most other patrons seem to find the quirky names fun and enjoy making drinks decisions.
TRE stands for the three Treccani family members involved, and for being the third Café del Sol restaurant.
Have you been to new Café del Sol TRE? Write a review to put them in the running for the Italian category for this year’s Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries. Vote for them now and you could win R1 000.
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