Chalk and Cork

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

Critic's review

Bianca Coleman

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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  • 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.

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

    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

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

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