Venues

Chalk and Cork

Chalk and Cork
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Cost
R60 avg main meal
Ambience
Contemporary cool, Family friendly, Hip & happening
Food
Mediterranean, Pizzas, Tapas
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Jody Theodore

Food
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.

Drinks
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.

Service
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.

Ambience
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.

And...
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.

(July 2017)

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

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  • Lisa van Aswegen

    Food
    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.

    Drinks
    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.

    Service
    Excellent wine knowledge and recommendations from the waiters help tremendously with the extensive and interesting wine list.

    Ambience
    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.

    And…
    The upstairs space is ideal for an intimate event or gathering.

    (September 2016)

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

  • Bianca Coleman

    Food
    Owners Marc and Amy Botes love food and have made it their career for the past decade, mostly in the UK. They returned to South Africa last year to open this tapas restaurant, specialising in small plates. The smallest are the bar snacks if you just want a nibble with some wine – truffle butter popcorn, marinated olives, and the most divine pork “scratchings”, which are crispy little bits of pork belly with mustard aioli for dipping. The tapas are divided into meat, fish, and vegetarian and the menu changes regularly, complemented by a couple of daily chalkboard specials. Expect things like mushroom risotto with pea puree, tender lamb rump nice and pink in the middle, and salt and pepper squid with hummus and pickled radish. The butternut and ricotta gnocchi with brown sage butter and hazelnuts is a winner.

    Drinks
    An excellent wine list; also available are craft beers, fresh juices, and great coffee.

    Service
    Generally good. If you are lucky enough to be attended to by Marc himself, he is extremely knowledgeable about wine and was able to make excellent recommendations. He’s been head sommelier for no less than Gordon Ramsay, so he sure knows his stuff.

    Ambience
    On the ground level the seating is outside at tables, with benches under the shade of trees, and a couch at the end if you feel like reclining. Upstairs there is a small dining room that seats about 30 and can be booked for private parties. Lots of interesting artworks adorn the walls.

    And…
    Besides the small plates there are also pizzas made in the wood-fired oven, on normal or cauliflour bases.

  • Zani Botes and Katharine Jacobs

    Kloof Street’s buzzing midsection has been undergoing some changes: restaurateurs Marc and Amy Botes took over the Mozzarella Bar space in July, and reopened as Chalk and Cork on 1 September. The couple both have impressive CVs – they met, in fact, while working for Gordon Ramsay (Marc was head sommelier; Amy a supervisor). Neighbourgoods Market regulars may recognize the couple from their stand selling chorizo ciabatta rolls (although they’re taking a break while they find their feet with this new venture). Their new concept? A wine and tapas bar. We put the menu – and restaurant – through its paces.

    The food:
    The tapas menu includes a good variety of pint-sized meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes – plus a handful of woodfired pizzas for hungier patrons.
    At R70, the sirloin steak with bone marrow, gremolata and creamed spinach is one of the pricier tapas dishes, but the steak portion is generous for a tapas dish – and nicely cooked. The flavour of the creamed spinach is perhaps a bit one-dimensional and the creaminess overpowers the gremolata, but the fried bone marrow adds a necessary crunchy dimension to the dish. This is a hearty dish for those who don't mind managing a bit of gristle.
    Butternut ravioli pockets are drenched in burnt butter and sage and covered with grated parmesan. They’re tasty, cheesy and buttery, if lacking the delicacy and nuance of flavour one might find from an Italian home-made pasta dish.
    Other signature dishes include the tortilla – recommended runny with a plate of chorizo and red pepper – and the quail eggs with paprika salt.
    The woodfired pizzas come in four fairly classic combinations, and can be ordered in banting-friendly cauliflower base version. The base might not have the depth of flavour of the carb version, but it holds together thanks to the egg content.
    Dessert is a real treat. The vanilla panna cotta is served in a bowl and half covered with buttery crumbs and half with strawberry compote that was tart, rather than too sweet. It brought beautiful balance to the end of the meal.
    The flourless chocolate cake was the epitome of indulgence: chocolate fans should make an effort to visit simply for a slice. Yum!

    The drinks:
    Owner Marc has put his experience as sommelier to good use: the wine menu offers some unusual options from lesser-known farms like Mooiplaas, Catherine Marshall in Elgin, Julien Schaal in Elgin and Intellego in the Swartland.
    Also on offer is a respectable range of craft beer and cider, and for those who love the orange Italian spirit – Aperol spritzers.
    We drink fresh, squeezed juices with our lunch – always a relief to be served juice that is extracted on site from real fruit rather than syrupy concoctions poured from plastic containers.

    Service:
    Our waiter is helpful and friendly and ever-ready with suggestions and guidance around unfamiliar dishes.

    Ambiance:
    Rustic wooden tables, small pot plants on the tables and white walls make a pleasant backdrop if you’re prone to photographing your tapas. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. An outside area under the oaks makes for a lovely lunch spot on sunny days.

    And ...
    It’s a bonus to be able to order bubbly by the glass. There is a choice between the Sterhuis blanc de blanc at R52 or the Silverthorn ‘the green man’ at R65 per flute.

    The verdict:
    It’s a little early to pronounce one – and there are certainly some areas that could be improved – but Capetonians certainly love tapas and we’re looking forward to sipping new, unusual wine under the oaks in the balmy evenings of summertime.

User reviews

  • Had a few different plates. The stand out plates were the chicken tikka and the tempura hake. In general, the food is terribly under seasoned to the point of being just bland. Their pizza is the only dish I'd recommend, wood fired with a crisp crackeresque crust. Don't expect miracles with the service either.
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  • lovely tapas place with an inspired menu. only small issue that all those small bowls of delicious food add up and it can be a little pricey in the end. but a very nice place, with friendly staff.
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  • Delicious tapas and pizzas. Relaxed outdoors seating and nice wine list. Open on Sunday when all the other nice places around are shut.
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  • About the restaurant: Chalk and Cork is a two storey wine bar and restaurant with a dainty courtyard alongside Kloof Street, Cape Town. They specialize in tapas style meals which naturally lean toward Spanish ingredients, however they also take inspiration from the owners' travels around the UK and Europe. The Experience It was a typical Saturday afternoon in Cape Town. The temperature was in the high twenties but the wind in Town was picking up just enough to take the sting out of the sun's rays. Upon arrival, we were ushered into the outside courtyard, a cosy little area covered by a few trees that were slowly encroaching onto Kloof street. Once seated, we glanced over the menu which immediately portrayed inspirations from European countries. A few dishes stood out. Albeit classic dishes, they promised to deliver a mouthful of flavour. We started our meal with delicious slices of toasted sourdough bread, served with a jar of roasted red pepper & garlic hummus. Before digging in, I couldn't help but smell the aroma of fresh bread followed by the sweet hint of capsicum. A sure enough way to get my mouth watering... With the first mouthful I initially tasted the sweetness of the red pepper, accentuated by the roasting process. What followed was a combination of a smokey undertone and some heat from the garlic. I couldn't get enough! I literally had to stop myself from hogging the bread board! The next three dishes were then brought all at once, a common practice in tapas style meals. The first dish that happened to land on the table was a grilled lamb rump dish with a pea puree & labneh. For those of you who don't know, labneh is a soft, cream cheese made from strained yogurt. The lamb was perfectly cooked, closer to medium than medium rare and was packed with its natural juices. The pea puree was brightened up with some mint which added a freshness to the dish, cutting though the fattiness of the lamb. The slightly sour labneh also aided in cutting through the richness of the meat. Overall, while well executed, this dish was my least favourite of the meal. It didn't give me any outstanding experience. The next dish to hit the table was a butternut & ricotta gnocchi dish with brown sage butter and hazelnuts. This happened to be my favourite dish of the outing. The classic combination of sage and browned butter complimented the pillow-soft gnocchi in an orgasmic way. The nuttiness of the burnt butter was further heightened with the addition of the hazelnuts. The ricotta added a creamy dimension to the dish which was a kin to the light and fluffy gnocchi. This is a must try dish the next time you visit Kloof street. Lastly we had the pleasure to try the roasted heirloom beetroot dish with asparagus, goat's cheese & truffle dressing. This beauty was not only easy on the eye but filled my mouth with flavour. If I had to be critical about the dish, I would say that the asparagus was slightly overcooked and the beetroot crisps became soggy once reaching the table. Most probably because they weren't allowed to drip dry on paper after hitting the fryer. The crisps could have also used a touch more salt to bring out the natural flavour of the beetroot. My last little criticism was that my eating partner, who is a chef, pointed out that the truffle oil said to be in the dish was non existent. To be honest I completely forgot it was supposed to be in the dish and would have never realized had she not pointed it out. It was sad though, because I was looking forward to tasting it for the first time. The overall dish was delicious nevertheless, and if it was perfectly executed, would be a close competitor to the gnocchi dish. My overall experience was a pleasant one. Good food and wine. To say I was satisfied would be an understatement. I would definitely recommend Chalk & Cork to those looking for a good restaurant and wine bar!
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  • Great food, Super fast service, Awesome Atmosphere, and never forget fast Wi-fi, Definitely coming back.
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  • We were very excited to try Chalk & Cork for a Boxing Day breakfast. I had heard only good reviews but to my surprise upon arrival at the very busy restaurant this morning we were greeted with a very sarcastic and unaccommodating waiter. We were happy to wait for a table but when my father asked him how long the wait would be, he sarcastically told us that he had not spoken to the other customers so he did not know when they would leave. We left and had our brekkie up the road. Judging by how this establishment treats senior citizens, we will not be returning.
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  • What a great experience! The food was amazing and the staff were very friendly and looked like they were very happy to be serving their customers! I will definitely be going back there. Great work guys!
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  • We had a fabulous time at this new gem. We were a party of about 8 people. The restaurant is centrally located, has great decor, food and service. A very homely ambiance. The wine selection is amazing too. Amy and Mark went out of their way to make it a perfect evening. I encourage everyone to give it a try.
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  • With its lade-back ambience that is unique to Cape Town, and professional approach to fine wine and unique food; Chalk and Cork is certainly a gem that I was happy to have stumbled upon as a venue where friends can get together for a memorable experience. Their knowledge and world-class excellence is unparalleled, yet coupled with Amy’s warmth and Mark’s enthusiasm it almost felt like coming home. Most certainly a must on every foodie’s culinary calendar.
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  • Hi - I just wanted to say that we are so excited to have such an awesome restaurant in the perfect spot!!
    For all you Banting folk the cauliflower pizza comes highly recommended by my husband.. I had a cheat - parma ham regular base pizza! Oh my - light and absolutely delish.. even the parma ham was light and melt in your mouth (often find parma ham chewy and difficult to eat so stay clear - not here).
    And the new tapas menu is awesome so we have booked to go back tomorrow!!
    Looking forward to the summer ahead with lunches turning into dinners in the gorgeous courtyard :)
    Awesome revival to what is now a great space both inside and out with an amazing menu.
    Well done guys!!!
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  • We had a great dinner here - great service, food and wine!
    Definitely a place I'm coming back to! :)
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  • My new favourite spot on Kloof Street. Loving the different base options for the pizza's, Burrata and fresh breads, quail eggs and awesome breakfast menu.
    Looking forward to summer evenings in the courtyard.
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  • Chalk & Cork is exactly what Cape Town needs more of. Interesting, carefully created menu with personal service from friendly owners who clearly know what a quality restaurant experience is all about. Nothing short of superb!
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  • Popped in for lunch on a Friday with colleagues recently. Great atmosphere, delicious food and very friendly staff. Looking forward to having a dinner there soon.
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  • We had a lovely dinner here the other night with a large group of friends. We ordered a mixture of starters to share and they were all delicious. I ordered the lamb for the main and my fiancee had the cauliflower base pizza and we were both very happy with our choices. One of the biggest highlights of the night were the wine recommendations from the owner. I didn't realise he was the sommelier for some of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants but it figures as each of his wine recommendations were great. We will definitely be going back for dinner soon!
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  • "A Great New Find"

    Walking up Kloof St I came across the new Chalk and Cork and was very impressed. The relaxed ambience of the restaurant was complimented by the speedy service of great food. The courtyard is where I felt the most at ease, watching all the traffic go by with an ice cold beer in my hand.

    Well done!!!!!
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  • Great food and service - a delightful place to go - warm and with the emphasis on good food and ingredients.
    A real highlight for me was the wine list which had on some great wines I'd yet to discover - worth going for a lesson on some of the wines form the knowledgeable Marc alone.
    I went for dinner and will be going back!
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  • I popped in while my car was at the car wash close by. Dirty tables outside, despite owner Amy walking right to the end of the outside seating, and were not cleaned. I had to request that my table be cleaned.

    Typing errors on the unexciting menu pages on clipboard. The Smashed Avo (poached eggs on feta, avo, and toasted rye) very mediocre and uninspiring presentation, given the chef;s previous working experience (Le Quartier Francais, Rust en Vrede).

    Owner would not accept feedback about the ordered and described dry cappuccino not being correctly made, and was rude when I told her that it was not correct (I have 2 per day all over Cape Town - it's not a flat white).

    Abusive verbally as I left, and on Twitter thereafter.

    Not recommended! Do not believe the false claims on their website about the 'hidden courtyard' and 'knowledgeable service'!
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  • Really great little spot on Kloof Street with a beer garden, service needs some work but that's expected from a new restaurant. Ask for your drinks in a can, otherwise you get Kway (same as MacDonalds) which is anything but ideal.

    Pizza's are great, thin based and crispy and they also offer either beetroot or cauliflower bases. The cauliflower base is so thin and crispy it's hard to believe that they don't use any flour. I ordered the sirloin and bone marrow and Gremolata which was a deal at R80 but arrived medium to well done instead of Medium rare as requested. Still, the flavours were good and I know if it had come medium rare it would've been great.

    I would definitely go back, it's right across from my office and I need to try the other pizza bases and oven roasted veg salads.

    They're opening for dinner soon so keep an eye out!
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Beer served
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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