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Aubergine Restaurant (Cape Town)

Aubergine Restaurant (Cape Town)
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Cost
R290 avg main mean
Ambience
Bar scene, Business meetings, Groups, Special occasions
Food
Fine-dining food, Mediterranean, Modern, South African, Vegetarian
Payment
Amex, Diners, Mastercard, Visa, Zapper
Corkage
No BYO

Critic's review

Ishay Govender-Ypma

Food
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.

Drinks
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.

Service
From the moment you walk in, you’re welcomed warmly. Waitstaff can linger and appear surly if you don’t make a decision timeously.

Ambience
There’s a hard-to-place, outdated Alpine feel with the yellowood and blonde elements, wooden sash windows and rattan chairs at closely-packed tables.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.

And…
There are private dining areas for celebrations away from the main restaurant section.

(August 2017)

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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  • Bernadette le Roux

    Food  
    If there’s one thing you can be certain of at Aubergine, it’s consistency. Having first opened its doors in 1996, there’s not many a day here that chef-patron Harald Bresselschmidt is not in the kitchen. Although ingredients are of the highest standard, presentation harks back to days gone by with foams, smears, glass plates and doilies making guest appearances. This is one of the few restaurants in Cape Town where you will find not only abalone, which is sautéed and served with a squid-ink risotto and lemon-verbena emulsion, but also a caviar menu that comes with all the trimmings. A three-, four-, and five-course set tasting menu (each with or without wine pairings) is available and guests have the added advantage of being able to pick and choose between menus if a la carte is preferred. The menus do change but if you are lucky enough to find the cured and air-dried springbok with dark chocolate, quince and wild mushrooms, you won’t be disappointed. Handmade friandises served with coffee are a hero end to the meal.

    Drinks 
    The wine list is the highlight here. A veritable tome, it reads well with a huge selection of both local artisan wines and international choices that are housed in temperature and humidity-controlled cellars. There is something for everybody, but do be adventurous and try something new. The sommelier is both knowledgeable and helpful.

    Service
    Service is outstanding with waiters, runners and sommeliers attending to your every need. There is good understanding of the various menus, excellent suggestions on wine parings and generally a fast and friendly bustle about the place.

    Ambience
    Interiors are rather dated with heavy wood columns, alpine-esque wood ceilings, rattan-backed chairs and a mix of lighting from Asian to French. A roaring fireplace in winter saves the day, keeping it cosy and comfortable; and a glass-fronted wine cellar ups the ante giving the overall feel a slightly more modern edge. A garden terrace under palms is a good option for summer and a mezzanine inside for romantics.

    And…
    Guests can purchase wines directly from Aubergine for their own home cellars.

    (September 2016)

    Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

     

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User reviews

  • Aubergine ticks all the boxes in terms of food, wine and friendly service. Tucked away in a side street in Gardens, it can be a little tricky to find parking, but the friendly guard will point you in a good direction. We enjoyed a 3 course meal with wine pairing. The choices seem endless, we actually had quite a hard time choosing our options! The specials option seemed to drag on a little bit, to the point of forgetting the extensive list offered by our waiter in addition to the 'normal' menu. The sommelier was an absolute delight, pairing some conventional and unconventional options. He had me thoroughly enjoying a white wine, which I usually avoid like the plague. The Beef Consomme was perfectly balanced, with some juicy pockets of ravioli floating delightfully in the middle. The duck was the juiciest I've ever had, mouthwateringly delicious. The Surprise Du Chef was a very welcome surprise with a selection of desserts. Special mention for the rice pudding - something I've never liked before but it was so good, as well as the creme brulee which had a delightful crack revealing its creamy delight beneath. What a great evening.
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  • This was perhaps the most diabolical experience of our lives! We were required to pay a deposit of R900 prior to confirmation of our meal, which was paid, yet only R750 was deducted from our bill that was well in excess of R3,000 for 5 people. When we queried this, the manager advised us that "those are the rules" as the restaurant needs to be "covered" since we had booked for 6 people but only 5 arrived. We pointed out that, notwithstanding the rules, one should waive the R150 in the circumstances, but said manager insisted, in all her legal wisdom, that we had signed a form and agreed to these terms. We did not expect this establishment's primary concern to be the enforcement of contracts instead of serving a good meal. We would have felt better if we were mugged by the chef on our exit. They should be ashamed and embarrassed. As for the food, it was average and over-prices; a real tourist trap.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Dress code
  • Fireplace
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • StreetSmart affliated
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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