If a dinner for one or sharing small plates is the type of dining experience you’re searching for, then Chalk and Cork is the recommended spot. This is a restaurant that showcases a selection of unique and exquisite combinations of flavours, where each dish has been well thought out and complements the selection of wines that are available.
The truffle-buttered popcorn is a must try, as is the salt-and-pepper calamari, and the piperade salad with celery and parsley is simply delicious. If you’re feeling bold and keen for more adventurous cuisine, the braised pig cheek with sweet-potato purée, pickled carrot and beetroot is the thing to try.
Keeping to the sharing theme, the board options are great, with tasters of beetroot and hummus, charcuterie and pickles, or cheese, preserves and nuts, all served with sourdough. The menu also offers a selection of pizzas with simple and flavoursome topping combos, such as the Summer (mozzarella, feta, rocket and avo) and Smokey Joe (mozzarella, pulled pork and sweet piquant peppers). Low-carb or vegan pizza bases are an option at an additional cost).
There’s a small selection of desserts with appealing flavour combinations that’ll leave you wanting more. And don’t think because it’s tapas you’re going to get a small portion. Try the superb pineapple sponge cake with rum-infused butterscotch, minted pineapple and chantilly cream; the red wine-poached pear with orange, cinnamon and gorgonzola cream; or the flourless dark chocolate cake with orange marmalade and vanilla cream. The options will have in a mental tug of war over which to choose.
The offering of beverages has a strong local influence, with good SA craft beers, ciders and gins. The wine list complements the menu very well. The curious will be rewarded by the gin or rum beetroot lemonade, as well as the non-alcoholic options.
Entering the restaurant, you might be a little overwhelmed by the team of chefs in the kitchen, which is the first contact point. Swiftly, however, that feeling is put to ease by a manager or waiter who will be more than happy to get you seated. Chalk & Cork has friendly and helpful staff all round, who have good menu and wine knowledge.
Chalk & Cork is a spot that will appeal for any occasion, from an intimate romantic supper to family gathering or even large dinner party in the courtyard.
Unless you’re not feeling charitable, a R5 donation from each patron will be added to the bill to benefit Infinity Culinary Training, a non-profit organisation that trains previously disadvantaged South Africans who are in urgent need of employment.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Lisa van Aswegen
The breakfast menu is compact but cute: a cheeky BLT boasts bourbon-glazed bacon while The Rabbit is for health-conscious diners – fesh fruit, yoghurt and granola muesli. The real appeal here is with the restaurant's approach to lunch and dinner: tapas-style eating at its best, with a choice of boards, bar snacks (truffled popcorn anyone?) and carefully conceived dishes to share.
Baba ganoush with sourdough hits the creamy, smoky mark while you decide what else to order: go in a group so everyone can have a taste. The salt and pepper calamari with sriracha aioli is a hit, as is the cauliflower risotto with hazelnuts. Braised beef short rib is deeply unctuous, while lighter dishes include a root veg salad with crème fraiche and porcini dust. The best thing about this kind of eating is that you can easily order your more of your favourite. The wood oven-fired pizzas deserve a mention too, with cauli-bases that'll have Banters happy.
A handful of desserts are comforting, with a modern spin: think sago and coconut milk pudding or rooibos-poached guava.
With a focus on lesser-know estates and varietals, the wine list, although compact, is a gem. Craft beers, ciders and fresh-pressed juice combos make an appearance too.
Excellent wine knowledge and recommendations from the waiters help tremendously with the extensive and interesting wine list.
While the courtyard space with benches is sought after, the real gem is upstairs in the eaves where you sit surrounded by wine bottles. Modern clean lines and the use of wood accents the contemporary appeal of the space without being too formal. It's a buzzing, lively spot.
The upstairs space is ideal for an intimate event or gathering.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.