Madame Zingara has breathed new life into a historical Cape Town setting with the opening of The Company’s Garden Restaurant. The new restaurant, which was briefly known as Haarlem & Hope, took the place of the landmark garden tea room in November 2014 as part of a larger project aimed at revitalising areas of the CBD. However, while it’s clearly new and improved, the restaurant has managed to retain the comfortable, somewhat enchanting, feel of its iconic predecessor.
While regulars of the old tea room can still enjoy hearty breakfasts and teatime favourites like toasted sandwiches, burgers and buttery scones, the revamped menu shows evidence of Zingara’s magic touch. Paying homage to authentic South African fare, the menu gives Cape cuisine a gourmet twist in dishes like the bobotie roti starter, which arrives fragrant and full of flavour with homemade sambals and chutney. The beer-battered camembert fritters with parmesan and tomato and basil coulis are a real highlight – the batter extraordinarily delicate and crispy with very little greasiness.
Main meals arrive in generous portions and range from the very tasty beer-battered hake and chips to farmhouse cheese platters, and sticky mustard and marmalade spatchcocked chicken. The grilled organic sirloin is the most expensive main on the menu, but the large portion and overall quality offers true value for money. The two prime cuts of sirloin are beautifully complemented by a creamy béarnaise sauce, sharp chimichurri, fresh asparagus and a helping of hand-cut potato chips. Cakes and desserts are attractively displayed, encouraging you to have a look before placing your order. The red velvet baked cheesecake served with berry coulis and fresh raspberries was heavenly, and a huge slice of lemon meringue won us over with its creamy, subtle sweetness and marvellous texture.
The extensive wine menu is best suited to those with a bigger budget, but offers a superior selection of local wines ranging from Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinot Noir to Groot Constantia Shiraz. An interesting addition is ‘The Big Five’ featuring five select bottles from iconic South African estates like Nederburg, Rust en Vrede and Simonsig. There’s an exotic selection of seven speciality teas with herbal infusions like rose hip, blackberry leaves, peppermint and hibiscus. A small selection of craft beer is also on offer.
Friendly and professional, even in the midst of the chaotic Sunday lunch rush.
The vibe is casual and family orientated, but the neutral colour scheme and use of natural materials like wood and stone gives the restaurant an air of understated elegance. Alfresco tables – the two-seaters featuring beautiful mosaic details – gather under the shade of the old trees, while fascinating nest-like baskets by a local designer hang at the entrance. It’s also fast becoming a favourite among parents: it’s one of the CBD’s most child-friendly restaurants.
This spot buzzes from morning to late afternoon, so be sure to book at least three days in advance.