Venues

Aubergine Restaurant (Cape Town)

Aubergine Restaurant (Cape Town)
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Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Fine-dining food, Mediterranean, Modern, South African, Vegetarian
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
No BYO

Critic's review

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)

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  • Graham Howe

    Food
    Celebrating twenty years at the helm in 2016, chef patron Harald Bresselschmidt has made his restaurant one of the Cape’s top gastronomic destinations. His menus showcase signature South African ingredients, applying classic French technique with a contemporary Asian spin to bring out the yin and the yang on the plate. A perfectionist, he combines seasonal flavours and textures in a subtle way, creating dishes where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts - and always in perfect harmony. Start with duck ham with savoury grape strudel or a composition of three textures of fish, move onto mains of trio of Karoo lamb and finish with a legendary chocolate fondant. The main ingredient is always the star – enhanced by exotic dressings, garnishes, pastes and sauces. Expect an earthy accent from offal (lamb kidneys, sweetbreads and liver) to venison and rabbit. Vegetarians are spoiled by gourmet compositions such as the signature aubergine soufflé, (and?) caciotta ravioli, a potpourri of vegetables scented with Kalahari truffle from the restaurant’s own Stellenbosch garden.

    Drinks
    An award-winning wine-list tempts with top champagnes, MCC, German Rieslings, rare vintages and chef’s own Aubergine house wines specially chosen to complement the cuisine.

    Service
    Top-notch, from the sommelier’s advice on food and wine pairings to professional service from knowledgeable servers.

    Ambience
    Intimate and sophisticated, in a 1830’s townhouse with sash windows and warm wooden floors and tables transformed into a contemporary space of chic textures.

    And…
    Pick a table to match the season and your mood – on the garden terrace under the palms, on the romantic mezzanine level, the annexe or the plush main dining room.

    (August 2015)

  • Greg Landman

    Food 
    Harald Bresselschmidt has been satisfying diners at his restaurant for almost 18 years and of an evening you can still find the place full of people, even in the dead of winter. And with very good reason – the cuisine is great to look at and even better to eat, with no tricky edges or precious innovations.

    The ham hock terrine, wrapped in pancetta and served with shredded cabbage salad and small slices of marinated quince, is delicious and light. The aubergine soufflé, their signature dish, filled with marinated chèvre, still has its devotees after all these years. A fish strudel, very delicately wrapped in pastry and served with crème fraîche and sauerkraut, showed well the German origins of this kind of cooking.

    As for sweets, the pumpkin soufflé, made with pumpkin oil and served with ginger ice cream and a Cape fortified sauce, is an irresistable dessert and reveals itself to be quite an elegant confection for such a humble vegetable. Another favourite here is the crème brûlée done two ways, cardamom and vanilla served side by side with a scoop of sorbet.

    Drinks 
    They offer a spectacular, award-winning list featuring 38 German rieslings, 16 French pinot noirs, 4 Pol Rogers, even Krug Champagne, and fabulous local wonders like a 1984 Alto Rouge. House wines by Teddy Hall, Bruwer Raats and Eben Sadie are available by the carafe.

    Service 
    The service is about as smooth as it gets, with a sommelier to see you through the wine list.

    Ambience 
    This historic old house, which used to be the home of the first Chief Justice of the Cape, dates back to 1830 and is packed with character. A mezzanine area for more secluded dining overlooks the main room. In summer the garden is a favourite with regulars.

    And…  
    The menu changes regularly and seasonally.

    (July 2014)

  • Aubergine is a Cape Town institution with food of the highest order from chef Harald Bresselschmidt. The signature dish, the aubergine soufflé filled with marinated chèvre, a creamy, light creation, still thrills after 17 years. For mains, try the the lamb saddle with pastry and garlic velouté, or the grilled beef rib-eye with artichoke cauliflower gratin. The knockout dessert is the crème brûlée in cardamom and vanilla flavours with strawberry salsa and mandarin sorbet. There’s a superb wine list and sommelier to guide you.
  • Food
    This is food of the highest order from master chef Harald Bresselschmidt, a longtime Cape Town institution. The signature dish of aubergine soufflé filled with marinated chevre, creamy and light as a feather, still thrills after 17 years on the menu. Beetroot-cured line fish with salmon roe, cucumber and champagne gelée and buckwheat blini is sublime. For mains try the lamb saddle ‘en chemise’ dressed with puff pastry and garlic velouté, or the grilled beef rib eye done to perfection with red onion sauce and artichoke cauliflower gratin – either of them enough to make a grown man weep with pleasure. The knockout dessert is the crème brulée, which comes in two flavours side by side, cardamom and vanilla, separated by a strawberry salsa and served with a scoop of mandarin sorbet. Marvellous.

    Wine
    There’s a spectacular list with a sommelier to guide you through it all. Excellent house wines by Teddy Hall and others, in two sizes. The carafe is perfect when you don’t want to have a bottle or would prefer to try two or more wines.

    Service
    Smooth, friendly, and knowledgeable.

    Ambience
    Guests dine in a fairly large room with a fireplace in an old heritage building, which dates back to 1830. In the summer the garden is a great place to be.

    And...
    There are two- or three-course special menus and a degustation option. Dishes ordered before 6.30pm are subject to a 15% reduction – a significant saving, if you don’t mind eating early.(Greg Landman, September 2013)
  • Horst Frehse

    Classic fine dining in the Cape Town city centre, with an exceptional winelist and professional sommelier at hand. It’s great in summer to have the aperitif outside in the quiet courtyard. Visit for a blow-the-budget special occasion and order the East meet West Seafood or the quail coq au vin. (July 2013)
  • Jane Broughton

    A classic restaurant in a quirky old building in the centre of the city, still doing classic food paired to exceptional wines. Newcomers may come and go, but Aubergine has remained firmly on the fine dining scene – one of few to weather both fashion and economic change. Recommended for a romantic date and order the delicious dishes featuring aubergine, ranging from a delicate soufflé to rolled shoulder of lamb. (July 2013)

User reviews

  • 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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  • We came here for lunch - 5 of us - last week. We had a great time. The wine list and sommelier were impressive and an added pleasure was to see great wines being decanted properly and the the bottles displayed with their corks, next to our table - something more restaurants should do. The menu, while not extensive, was perfectly constructed and had something for all of us, meat, fish, vegetarian. We managed between us to try all the starters 4/5 main courses and several of the puddings and no course let us down. Thank you Aubergine for a great experience.
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  • A recent visit to 'Aubergine' 'often overlooked by Awards Panels' but thankfully with a loyal following of local residents and visitors to Cape Town, our lunch, yet again proved what a gem this venue is. Catherine has to be the finest Reservations Manager in the city, whilst Harald calmly supervises his kitchen producing a delicious a la carte lunch menu with more options in the evenings. The wine list is legendary, and our waiter Chris was superb. So central yet tucked away in a peaceful corner of the city, we look forward to returning.
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  • Such a lovely evening at Aubergine tonight. The service was attentive and knowledgeable. We chose two courses each from the winter bistro menu and found everything delicious. The main wine list is extensive but pricey, that being said a great sommelier, crystal and wine service all come with. Amuses bouches and friandise made it feel like a special occasion. Highly recommended.
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  • Superb restaurant - one of Cape Town's finest. Innovative and delicious cuisine. Great ambience and immaculate service. Meticulous attention to detail. Not to be missed!
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  • We visited Aubergine in December 2013.

    This is a fantastic cullinary institution. The combination of flavours and execution of each dish that we sampled could not be improved (in my view).

    In addition, the wine list is superb and puts on display the very best of South African producers.

    The food and wine menu may not be the most affordable in Cape Town, but it is worth every cent.

    Well done.
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  • The winter special was a bit disappointing, the wine pairings were cheap and cheerful and they only give you a tiny glass. The starters and main courses were excellent though, but the cheese platter in place of a dessert was pretentious and too busy and had too much going on, on the plate.

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  • Very extensive wine list - I was most impressed. The service levels were top class and very friendly. The meals - an acquired taste is required.

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  • It is interesting that all the unfavourable comments seem to have disappeared from their site. I spoke to guests who ate here on Saturday night (27) and they were very disappointed with the level, or lack of service. Very disinterested staff, long waiting time for the wrong meal and no hint of apology. They did enjoy the food, but nothing else. This is not the first time I have had unhappy guests there.

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  • Great food (presentation and especially taste), personalised and knowledgable service, brilliant wine pairings. An all-round proper fine-dining experience.Thank you to the Aubergine team for a memorable evening.

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  • What an amazing evening - food, service and the ambience was just perfect. Thank you.

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  • I indented on spoiling my wife for our anniversary last night. We went to Aubergine. It seemed like a good idea. We normally go somewhere special every year - like the most amazing restaurant in the Wilderness called Serendipity or the incredible Azure restaurant at 12 Apostles. After an average meal was served - I had the Beef Fillet and Lauren had the Lamb, we realized we were stuck in either tourist trap or a hang-out for the extremely rich who don't have any idea about value for money versus taste. At about R200 for each dish, I expected something different. But alas, the little piece of lamb hiding on the plate was tough (but fortunately only two bites worth). The Fillet was tasty, but I longed more for home cooked food on the weber and couldn't help thinking that I could have done a better job myself and fed a family of 8 at this price. The service was average, the meal was average, the setting was average (I did like the wooden floors). I hope tourists don't think this is the best Cape Town has to offer. Sorry, I expect more at these prices. Ridiculous. Fortunately I still had some chicken nuggets at home which were delicious and made my meal at Aubergine seem like a good lesson in choosing future restaurants carefully and not relying on some snobby award as a reflection of good taste.

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  • I was very disappointed with Aubergine. My partner and I decided to try it for our 4 year anniversary. They promised to make it special, but no extra effort was made, and the service was poor. Saved for ages to go and we were very let down. How did they ever get into the Top 10?
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  • I went back to Aubergine for the first time in a year. What can I say? GREAT will have to do!
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  • How to spoil an evening of celebration – and how to rescue it againIngredients,1 Recession1 Couple1 Romantic evening1 Internet connection1 Cell phone1 Bottle of wine1 Luxury sedan1 GPS1 R1 0001 Extremely formal restaurant (Dine Top 100)1 Cape trendy restaurant (also Dine Top 100)1 Snooty sommelier1 Chatty waiter Extremely formal restaurantMethod,1. Apply principles of recession for months – starve couple for an evening of fine dining. Around mid-November, excite couple at the prospect of a romantic evening at one of Dine’s Top 100 restaurants. 2. Have couple verify restaurant’s details from Wine’s website and book a table. Instruct couple to dress for the occasion. Request female to check Wine’s website again just to verify that R50 is the amount charged for BYO at the establishment of choice. Send male to secure Stellenbosch red wine aged to perfection in his cellars. 3. Remind female to grab credit cards. Ask female to program street address of said establishment in Cape Town’s CBD into GPS while male drives. Steer couple in the direction of Cape Town; 40 minutes’ drive. Assure that couple arrives on time and is shown to table in almost vacant dining lounge.4. Fold in snooty sommelier, trained to talk down in a military voice to patrons. Instruct her to frown at the BYO as if it were a half-full papsak snuck into the room in a superette shopping bag. Have her deny categorically that the restaurant ever had a corkage policy. Instruct her to tell patrons that the 2010 John Platter was launched in-house just the previous evening. Have her develop shame on the part of patrons for not having read in the annual wine bible that corkage was previously set at R100 a bottle, but was now abandoned altogether at the fine venue. 5. At this stage, ensure the sommelier engages the lady at the table in an argument about the attitude of the public towards eateries of the present calibre. Have the male storm out of the building and retrieve the restaurant review in Wine’s Dine Guide stating that a corkage fee of R50 applies. Then allow the sommelier to offer to open the wine (now only recognised as Le Riche 2000 Cabernet Reserve) and serve it to the now nervous and anxious couple. 6. Instruct the sommelier to mention that the wine is indeed something extraordinary, but don’t allow her to let a moment pass to underline the couple’s ignorance of establishment’s policies and their inexcusable behaviour for not having consulted the 2010 John Platter approximately 18 hours after launch at prized establishment. Ensure sommelier rants that the situation is unacceptable and that Christian (whoever he is and how he bears relation to this situation, escapes reasonable thought) certainly should be reprimanded for anything relevant to couple’s now obvious social blunder.7. Coach sommelier to act surprised and shocked at couple’s desire to now leave and possibly never return. Even as the substantially embarrassed male and now furious female leave the premises, stress to the sommelier to have a final word, educating embarrassed couple on sound restaurant management and customer control. Cape trendy restaurantMethod,1. Calm the male down and have him drive around town as he discusses incident with female. Remind him of another Dine Top 100 restaurant in the vicinity and have him call and reserve a table for two. 2. Receive couple warmly and with appreciation in these recessionary times, even though restaurant is almost packed to the brim with locals and visitors from other continents. Send chatty waiter over to couples table, ensuring she raves about couple’s choice of wine. 3. Ensure couple not only enjoys 3 exotic courses, but also even orders Champagne from extensive wine list.PSThe restaurant we enjoyed on Friday evening was 95 Keerom, food and ambience exquisite. Knowledgeable service with a smile. The other eatery was a stuck-up joint whose name sounded like they specialised in ratatouille – something like Pomme de Terre or Courgette or Capsicum or the like. Pity we’ll never find out what the fuss is all about!
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  • It all started very promising and on a high, very friendly reception along with a very professional explanation of the menu and the specials for the evening. Great wine by the glass and not fussy about our preference for tap water. Good selection of quality bread. There was a (seemingly) very good value winter Bistro Menu but after careful consideration we opted for our own a la carte choice, 6 oysters to start with and each of us a different vegetarian main course. Oysters were fine. Main course Aubergine Mousse was very delicate and delicious, but not quite enough for a main course. The risotto of my friend was also good, but the portion also on the small side, considering that we went for the main course option. In order to compensate for this we opted for the rather indulgent Chocolate Soufflé with ice cream. After a long wait we were served our pudding, the soufflé was nowhere near a soufflé but is was an overcooked, bland sponge where, after some serious digging, a small gulp of melted chocolate was hidden. The ice cream was far too melted to serve along with it. This was so disappointing that we decided to send it back. Surprisingly, nobody came to our table to actually ask what was wrong with the dessert but we were served a plate of some gourmandises, that you normally get with coffee. The service went completely silent. Nobody came to our table for at least an hour and when we decided to call it a day and ask for the bill, the dessert was still on it. We have, needless to say, deducted it ourselves and yes, there was a reluctant apology and another plate of gourmandises, but really it would have been nice and professional if they had paid more attention to this. In any case, not a restaurant we will go back to. Service recovery is essential in any establishment of this pretence, and thats where they have more than disappointed.
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  • We went to Aubergine on Friday for dinner. It was our first time there, and we were expecting a top-class (Top10) meal. Unfortunately we were disappointed. The place itself is nice and the service ok. We selected starters and mains from their ‘hearty’ autumn menu. We had the mussels/seafood broth and calamari&chorizo for starters. The calamari was good, but the seafood broth was very sweet and not good at all.For mains we had the lamb and blesbok. Both were good, but the portions were small and the plates cold. After that we weren’t really keen on desert. The meal, 2 drinks and 1 glass of wine came to R520. That’s a lot for me, when you consider it’s only a mediocre meal.We left hungry after a 2 course ok-ish meal.
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  • Congratulations to all at Aubergine for being rated one of the Top 100 restaurants in the World!
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  • The Aubergine is our number 1 restaurant in Cape Town and the negative comments on this page are difficult to understand. The Aubergine kept excellent value for money over the years on an all-around, absolute top-level.
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  • Extremely over-rated. If you’re looking for good food at a reasonable price in a relaxed atmosphere (as you get in most restaurants in Cape Town), then don’t come here. If, however, you enjoy being made to feel uncomfortable and to pay through the nose for arty-farty food served by patronising staff, then this is the place for you. To be fair, the meat (what little of it there was) was perfectly cooked, but the aubergine souffle (the signature dish) was a rather tasteless and disappointing affair. The pretentious ramblings on the front of the menu unwittingly provided us with some hilarity though.
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  • I found Aubergine to be pretentious and ridiculously overpriced. The service was mediocre; the food was mostly ok, but the portions really tiny. Most disappointing was a dessert at the end that tasted of old fridge. Not impressed.
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  • Really pretentious food, with mediocre service...why is this place in the top ten???
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  • We would just like to thank the whole Aubergine team for a most memorable evening! Everything was superb, service, food and ambiance, impeccable! Although pricey, hes food way surpasses the price you pay! There is a very good reason why this restaurant is full on a Tuesday night in the middle of winter! Thanks so much guys!
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  • We had a fantastic meal here - the service was also superb. Everything was so relaxed and we didnt feel like they were trying to push you out like other restaurants. The quality of the food was amazing - we would go here againg without a doubt!
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  • Oh Wao... I had not been to Aubergine for a little while and was absolutely impressed by the way it has been revamped. So modern, chic and warm. We were a party of 8 and each ordered different dishes, it was a feast of flavours, all amazingly surprising. The service is professionnal, yet polite and friendly and the staff KNOW what they are selling which is very refreshing. Thumbs up Harald, you are the best
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  • Really was not impressed. The decor was nothing inspiring at all and the food, while delicious, is not worth its price or unique. Our service was quite poor in that our waiter couldnt speak clearly which frustrates me when having to pay big prices. Overall not bad but not TOP 10, in my opinion, at all.
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  • For almost 10 years the Aubergine is my absolute favorite SA restaurant. After having been there so many times there was never one disappointment. Some of the reviewers here seem to be better of in a fast food place. This is absolute gourmet, you gladly spent a whole evening in a very nice ambiance. And the prices are absolutely fair for what Harald Bresselschmidt offers!
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  • A HUGE thank you to the whole Aubergine team for making our anniversary so memorable. The whole experience was phenomenal, Harold your food is out of this world and u should be Nr 1 in South Africa, the front of house staff for all the excellent service. The food and wine parings- Spot on!!
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  • Although being real food lovers, my wife and I have lately avoided restaurants simply because the food has been average, prices exorbitant and the service either pretentious or disgraceful, but our faith has been restored in the restaurant industry thanks to Aubergine, its staff and remarkable Chef. The food has clearly been prepared to excite the clients senses, to feed the soul and to leave you feeling exhilarated! And no strange glances from the waiter making one feel guilty for sharing a dessert. My new favourite resturant in Cape Town!
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  • I was thoroughly disspointed, and actually wanted to leave after just arriving, The ambience was extremely average and whilstthe decor was nice, it was hardly what I would call an amazing restaurant vibe... I eat out in a new restaurant once a week in cape town, and wouldnt botehr to go back here even if it was free, although the tiny, averagely made portions were so ridiculously priced you would think I would! I am so confused with this place getting a good review I cannot tell you!
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  • After our previous experience, when we celebrated a guests 75th birthday (by the time the food arrived he was 76) we decided to give it another try. This time service was somewhat better.
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  • Food is fabulous but service horendous. We waited one hour for our main courses, and the restaurant was not even full.
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  • Wow.. very nice but difficult to get a table in the evening. So i went for lunch instead.. Although the restaurant was realtively quiet , it was quite difficult to get parking anywhere nearby.. but the long walk and semi sunburn was worth every step.The food was fantastic.. portions looked quite small , but were quite filling and oh so delish .. my hungerwas fully satisfied at the end of the meal but left me slightly disappointed .. i wanted MORE MORE MORE...The old-school brown texture weave of some of the furniture did not really tickle my fancy , but fitted in relatively well with the rest of the decor.All in all a lovelely culinary experience that i wouldnt mind repeating again and again and again..
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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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