This is where you go to enjoy classic cuisine prepared by a master with a flawless, long-standing reputation in Cape Town. German-born Harald Bresselschmidt – who spent his childhood in the pastoral surrounds of a working dairy farm on the Belgian border – uses heady local truffles, sustainable fish and game meats in what is touted as ‘East-meets-West’ gastronomic fare. Inside a handsome building – situated off-street and dating back to 1830 – Aubergine, named after the versatile nightshade, caters to a mix of business folk, foreigners looking for a taste of the familiar, and the occasional, well-to-do family.
Expect mains and degustation dishes like hake with fresh turmeric and coriander; rabbit loin with liver and a tangy cherry guava sauce; ostrich fillet and sweetbreads; cured duck ham with a soft-poached egg; antelope with barberry jus; the signature, pillowy soufflé (now on the dessert menu) and a dessert called “a dialogue of rhubarb”. The chocolate fondant is masterful but the crème brûlée, served in a too-long vessel, is odd.
Many of the vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s organic garden in Stellenbosch. Both à la carte and tasting menus are paired with a phenomenal selection of wines. Some may find the foams and emulsions hark to French menus of the past while many will find the execution and presentation reassuringly familiar.
The wine list is a work of art, with natural and boutique options that are tough to source elsewhere. This bears testament to Bresselschmidt’s belief in wine complementing food – an essential element of Aubergine’s ethos. Pardon Taguzu is the head sommelier, offering impeccable, unpretentious advice. He’ll happily accommodate your preferences and budget.
From the moment you walk in, you’re welcomed warmly. Waitstaff can linger and appear surly if you don’t make a decision timeously.
There’s a hard-to-place, outdated Alpine feel with the yellowood and blonde elements, wooden sash windows and rattan chairs at closely-packed tables. It’s accompanied by low lighting in the evenings but appears more modern by day light.
There are private dining areas for celebrations away from the main restaurant section.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.