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Review: Is Nelson’s Eye in Cape Town still serving great steak?

It’s been around since the early sixties and is still going strong, but is Nelson’s Eye in Cape Town still worth a visit? We sent veteran reviewer Greg Landman to investigate.

Food

The menu is vast, with classic starters like avocado Ritz and steamed mussels with fresh chilli and garlic butter; there’s even seafood like line fish, sardines, calamari, prawns and sole. But what’s kept this long-running act so popular is the meat. Even when approaching it with a jaded attitude of “so, show me”, I’m still bowled over by the 600g of superb T-bone steak perfectly done. When you ask for medium-rare and specify still red in the centre, that’s exactly what you get. Other well-aged cuts of fillet, sirloin and rump strut their stuff to great effect. Delicious.

Nelson’s Eye. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Nelson’s Eye. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The open grill is where it all happens to give that elusive flame-grilled touch so sought-after by carnivores. The basting sauce is non-obtrusive and perfect, but if you want to up the ante there are fabulous sauces like snails and blue cheese, béarnaise, mushrooms and asparagus. The standard steakhouse veggies are great, too: superb creamed spinach and slightly sweet buttered pumpkin. The salads are fresh as can be, and the classic desserts of flambéed cherries with vanilla ice cream and crème brûlée have fans from all over.

Drinks

The wine list has something for most tastes and pockets, with emphasis on good reds, obviously.

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Nelson’s Eye. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Service

Good steaks should rest before being served – but not too long or they are ruined. Here it is a balancing act, which has to be watched.

Ambience

Deceptively small from the street, the place is cavernous with many quiet corners and bars and a well-frequented upstairs area with TV screens. It has a lived-in, very comfortable quality, with plenty of wood and some nautical touches to give it that “Nelson” feel.

Nelson’s Eye. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Nelson’s Eye. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

And…

If you want your steak on a room temperature plate, ask for it – or you’ll get one that’s designed to keep the meal hot, but often goes on cooking the steak.

The verdict

The service and the wine list let Nelson’s Eye down a bit, and the place looks like it needs a good clean. Nevertheless, the loyal crowd keeps going back for a reason: the steaks are genuinely great.

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals. Read more about our editorial policy here.

Have you dined at Nelson’s Eye recently? Share your experience by writing a review.

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