The influence of former mentor Luke Dale-Roberts is apparent in chef Ivor Jones’s punchy flavours – the best of them inspired by Asian cuisine – and dishes that feel very well resolved. There’s a Thai sour curry with fermented lime that you’ll want to bottle, dumplings with layers of flavour that’ll make you regret eating your half of the shared portion in one mouthful, and Korean chilli chicken tacos that’ll make you want more and more.
There’s a risotto, of course – all of Liam Tomlin’s restaurants have one of those – and this umami-laced version is a home run. The secret’s in the coal-fired oyster mushrooms that lurk beneath a thyme-infused milk froth and the perfectly cooked, wondrously cheesy rice.
Line fish gets a lift from caraway and burnt butter dressing, and a simple tartare takes things in a different direction with a barbecue garlic aioli.
If you don’t want the experience to end, finish with wild honey and lavender creme, with honeycomb and a cinnamon-y smoked cassia bark ice cream. It’s a perfect rich honeyed cream, undercut by the clever, almost rosemary-like lavender. A chocolate-filled doughnut is less successful – it’s slightly too salty for most palates, and jars a little with the sour frozen yoghurt. That’s easy to forgive, though, when the rest of the dishes are as spectacular as they are.
Beau Constantia bottles are available by the glass, and there’s a good list of heavy-hitters available by the bottle.
Staff are well-trained and well-informed about dishes, without being pushy. One quibble: when bringing the bill, waiters shouldn’t make assumptions about who’s paying based on their gender identity.
With sweeping views out over the vineyards and Cape Town’s twinkling lights, the setting couldn’t be better. The glass-fronted space makes the most of it – though that can make things a tiny bit chilly in winter. (Fireplaces do their bit in warming up most of the dining room, however.) The ballet of the chefs in the small kitchen adds to the mood of the space, with a chorus of ‘oui’ going out after each of Jones’s orders.
A special occasion, with friends who don’t mind sharing.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
Liam Tomlin’s award-winning tapas restaurant has extended its reach to the southern suburbs, where chef Ivor Jones heads up the kitchen, drawing crowds with beautifully crafted small plates. The restaurant made its debut in the Top 10 this year.
Homely, simple dishes these are not. Each one is a layered delight, with big flavours and little flourishes. It’s an ever-changing menu, and you and your dining companions will share the dishes presented to you, usually two at a time, in the order that makes the most sense.
The home-smoked trout with burrata, beetroot dressing, saffron and a garlic emulsion is a light and bright start, which pairs nicely with the plate of tender tuna, autumn citrus, ginger-and-citrus dressing and zingy lime-cured cream cheese. The beef tartare is somewhat overpowered by spicy Szechuan dressing, but makes for a punchy bite.
Chefs Warehouse risottos are always a highlight, and the humble-sounding carrot risotto is no exception. It’s served, as per usual, in a perfect little copper saucepan, glossy with beurre noisette and silky carrot purée, and dotted with crispy sage leaves, raisins and roasted walnuts. The horseradish cream lifts it all. It is a triumph, incredibly delicious and flawlessly executed, and I can’t wait to go back to have it again.
Another comforting vegetarian dish is the oven-roasted cauliflower with earthy Jerusalem artichoke cream and crispy kataifi pasty, and then there’s another seafood option (no complaints by any means) – pan-fried hake with coal-roasted sweet potato and spiced buttermilk cream.
The roasted pork belly (or sweet potato, if you don’t do pork) with lime pickle, queso fresco, toasted rice and coconut crumb is a lively and unusual dish, replete with textures, flavours and fun. The last tapas plate of Persian-spiced lamb rump with pommes anna, mint salsa verde and lamb jus is very good and will please those who are less adventurous.
Desserts cost extra (but are always necessary, especially at Chefs Warehouse), and I can’t forgo my usual favourite of lemon posset with raspberries. However, if you’ve had the wild-honey and lavender crème, you will know why I now have a new favourite. It’s floral but not overpoweringly so, tempered by earthy honey and the slight bitterness of the golden honeycomb shards, as well as smoked cassia bark ice cream, which has a gentle spiciness not unlike cinnamon.
All dishes come on perfectly chosen crockery of varying colours, textures and shapes. They are art in and of themselves.
There are a couple of local ginger beers, Wilderer grappa, Beau Constantia gin, Four Beau Constantia Wines and Pas De Nom. There are two more pages for wine, including Radford Dale, Iona, Raats, Luddite and Vondeling.
The staff members are young and pretty, and keep things moving with personality.
The view is really incredible, with floor-to-ceiling glass showing off the estate’s vineyards and Cape Town’s suburbs rolling towards town on the one side and out to False Bay ahead. The lights twinkle as day moves into night, and you might spot an aeroplane or two taking off or landing in the distance. Soft greys and touches of creamy wood keep everything feeling extremely chic and calm inside. The outside seating areas – amongst some shrubs and the bushes – look gorgeous, with a few private seating areas built out of platforms. There’s an open kitchen, where you can spot the chefs in high-precision mode. The music, though excellent, seems a little out of character: Rolling Stones, The Cure and Led Zeppelin.
You may have to walk up and down quite a steep paved incline on your way from the parking to the restaurant and back, so it might be a good idea to wear comfortable shoes. (And don’t overindulge in the drinks!)
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.