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Chefs Warehouse and Canteen

Chefs Warehouse and Canteen
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Cost
R540 (tapas for two – a selection of eight dishes)
Ambience
Contemporary cool
Food
Modern, Tapas
500
EatOut_500_Web

Critic's review

Ingrid Jones

Food
Every dish is a sensory experience that’s easy on the eye and pleasurable on the taste buds. It’s fine dining, democracy style. The tapas for two to share are served in three courses so you can take a breather in between to savour every morsel. The perfectly plated and presented little meals are more filling than you expect, and just when you think you can’t possibly eat one morsel more, out comes another set of dishes to which you can’t possibly say no – and your taste buds applaud.

It’s hard to decide what is better: crisply fresh tuna tartare with crunchy nut crumb and croutons, melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, the tender venison with rainbow carrots, or the truffly saffron risotto.

You might go completely overboard and order all the desserts. The lemon posset is joyfully tart, and the rich, yet subtle, crème brûlée is definitely of the best around. It’s innovative and original.

Drinks
The wine list is quite extensive, with an interesting selection of craft beers and artisanal teas. It’s great to pair the different courses with a different wine. The waitrons are very knowledgeable about what to pair with the different dishes, and are spot on with their suggestions.

Service
No nonsense, friendly and informed. Waiters don’t hover; they instinctively know when to appear to clear, suggest a wine or add clean cutlery. The food philosophy here is that everyone is entitled to good food, hence no table reservations. If there’s a spot available at the communal tables, it’s yours. The democratisation of great food for everyone.

Ambience
Bustling. You feel like you’re somewhere in an international city. The close proximity of the tables tones down conversations that would otherwise be overwhelming in a bigger space. Sharing communal tables, whether perched on the stoep or inside where the shelves are covered with covetable kitchenalia, you feel part of the culinary world.

And…
Browse in the adjoining cookbook shop where every foodie tome your heart desires can be found.

(September 2016)

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

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Raphaella Frame-Tolmie

    Food
    Chef Liam Tomlin quietly flies under the radar, despite the fact that he produces consistently balanced and flavourful food that’s beautifully presented without being pretentious. In short, it’s really, really good. The fact that the tapas for two (though it’s not Spanish) comprises the menu at Chefs Warehouse means you can have a taster of everything the kitchen produces, which is satisfying on one hand, though it’s hard not to play favourites and wish you’d had two portions of a specific dish.

    The menu changes regularly, but when it's available the gnocchi is always feather-light and memorable. Risotto, too, is cooked to al dente perfection, and combines satisfying flavours such as pea and butternut with parmesan crisps. The salmon is so fresh you can cut through it with the side of a fork, and the sweetly savoury dressing for the fresh oysters, combined with shredded nori and lime, is exemplary. For dessert, you’ll never go wrong ordering the lemon posset, which is smooth as silk, and the chocolate fondant with its subtle orange essence, served with orange ice cream, is the stuff of dreams.

    Drinks
    There’s plenty of variety on the drinks list, with everything from interesting craft beers, carefully selected wines and a few choice spirits to a host of artisanal teas making an appearance.

    Service
    No-nonsense, professional and informed waiting staff will see to it your glass is full, as well as your belly. No bookings, though!

    Ambience
    While it's located on busy Bree Street, once you're inside you’ll feel removed from the hustle and bustle and can imagine you're at a street side eatery in Europe – especially since the spot seems a popular choice for international visitors. Communal tables create a casual atmosphere.

    And…
    The Chefs Warehouse shop has one of the best collections of interesting recipe books you could find (including three by chef Liam himself). You’ll also enjoy browsing the beautiful cookware and gadgets.

    (August 2015)

  • Linda Scarborough

    FOOD 

    Winner of the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards for Best Everyday Eatery.

    Deli options on the ever-changing lunch menu include dishes of pork or duck rillettes, potted shrimp or crab, and chicken liver parfait with grape chutney, but the real drawcard here is tapas for two at R380.

    The eight tapas dishes flow over their large wooden tray in a parade of mini copper pots, steaming baskets and slate plates. You won’t quite believe this generosity and flavour. Dishes may include crispy calamari tentacles served on a fresh Asian salad with chilli for a lovely hit of heat; butternut or dark, glossy squid-ink risotto; slow-braised beef short-rib with crispy fat and tender layers beneath; and tender tuna slivers with swirls of sauces and fresh shoots. For dessert, the lemon posset is an utter delight: the ultra-creamy, vanilla-studded pudding is topped with fresh raspberries and lemon zest, and a warm raspberry syrup is drizzled over at the table. You’ll probably also scoop every last crumb of the excellent chocolate fondant – gleamingly gooey inside and crisp outside – out of a darling mini copper pot.

    Drinks 

    Deluxe coffee comes in cool clear-glass cups, with the menu also offering an affogato option (a scoop of ice cream topped with espresso). Unusual alcohol options include Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer, Liefmans Fruitesse, CBC Amber Weiss, Dalla Cia Premium Grappa and Sir George Brandy (from Napier Winery). There’s a good wine selection of special bottles for the discerning and a dozen easy-drinking wines are available by the glass.

    Service 

    Service is quick and no-fuss.

    Ambience 

    On summer days and evenings, grab a seat outside. The simple wooden counters and high stools are sturdy and comfortable enough to support you for two hours without you even noticing. Menus are printed on rice paper clipped onto sushi rolling mats, lending a minimalist Asian vibe to it all. The interior is split into two main rooms: a dark, cool dining area lined with shelves of exotic cooking ingredients – rose water, oils, salt, coconut milks and obscure sauces – and a room of kitchenware on the other side with neat arrangements of top-quality knives and heavy saucepans. The dining room with its narrow tables can be a tight squeeze when it’s busy, but it’s perfectly in keeping with the bustling vibe of the city bowl.

    And…

    One wall is dedicated to rows of highly desirable food bibles. Bring your credit cards, folks – or be good and hope for a gift-card come Christmas.

    (Updated August 2014)

  • Linda Scarborough

    When we heard that 2013 Eat Out DSTv Food Network Restaurant Awards judge and renowned chef Liam Tomlin was moving Chefs Warehouse, his cooking school and shop, to Bree Street in Cape Town, we rejoiced that a part of our after-work kuier spot, the now-defunct Caveau, was occupied once more. Our excitement doubled when Liam opened up his adjoining canteen, which is a rather understated, casual word that belies the quality of the fare on offer. We grabbed a stool at the street-side counter one hot day to try it out.

    Food
    Lunchtime options on the ever-changing menu include balls of the day (beef balls stroganoff with potato rösti), fish of the day (pan-fried swordfish with tapenade), soup of the day (onion and cider with gruyère toast) and leg of the day (roast leg of lamb with caponata and roast potato). While debating these options, we spy a bowl of calamari on its way to a neighbouring table and discover that it's part of the day's tapas selection for two (at R260). Prompted by our decision-making crisis, we opt for this spread instead.

    The eight tapas dishes flow over their large wooden tray in a parade of mini copper pots, steaming baskets and slate plates. We can’t quite believe this generosity, considering what you get at other city tapas spots for twice the price. It turns out those coveted crispy calamari tentacles are served on a fresh Asian salad with chilli for a lovely hit of heat. The very saucy butternut risotto is as good as pudding and the slow-braised beef short-rib (served with baby potatoes and a slice of corn on the cob) boasts a delicious layer of crispy fat and tender layers beneath. The second red meat dish, two slivers of expertly cooked lamb on a chunky onion, tomato and brinjal sauce, is rich and very satisfying. A nice surprise is a dish of ‘pork lard’, the tasty morsels of which are set off by a light and crunchy salsa.

    A few of the dishes leave us a bit perplexed, though. Tuna sashimi comes with tuna ‘confit’, which is pale and interesting, but doesn’t compare well to its vivacious, fresh and gleaming friend. Our duck-pancake combo, while flavourful, has no sweet, sticky sauce to help it along, and the smoked trout blini with sour cream is very ordinary.

    But back to those soaring moments… For dessert, the lemon posset is an utter delight: the creamy, vanilla-studded pudding is topped with fresh raspberries and lemon zest, and a warm raspberry syrup is drizzled over at the table. We scoop every last crumb of the excellent chocolate fondant – gleamingly gooey inside and crisp outside – out of a darling mini copper pot. (We’ll have to try the third dessert option, Baileys coffee parfait with praline and sabayon, next time.)

    Drinks
    Deluxe coffee comes in cool clear-glass cups, with the menu also offering an affogato option (a scoop of ice cream topped with espresso). Unusual alcohol options include Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer, Liefmans Fruitesse, CBC Amber Weiss (made in Klapmuts), Dalla Cia Premium Grappa and Sir George Brandy (from Napier Winery). There’s a good wine selection of special bottles for the discerning and a dozen easy drinking wines are available by the glass. Beware of ordering sparkling water though: it'll cost you R24 for a small bottle.

    Service
    The staff might tend towards brusqueness, but service is quick and that counts for a lot at any busy city bowl spot. Overly attentive, saccharine service wouldn’t suit the masculine setting anyway.

    Ambience
    On summer days and evenings, grab a seat outside. The simple wooden counters and high stools are sturdy and comfortable enough to support you for two hours without you even noticing – an impressive feat. Menus are printed on rice paper clipped onto sushi rolling mats, lending a minimalist Asian vibe to it all. Inside is split into two main rooms: a dark, cool dining area lined with shelves of exotic cooking ingredients – rose water, oils, salt, coconut milks and obscure sauces – and a room of kitchenware on the other side with neat arrangements of top-quality knives and heavy saucepans. The best part? The books! One wall is dedicated to rows of highly desirable food bibles. Bring your credit cards, folks – or be good and hope for a gift-card come Christmas.

    (April 2014)

User reviews

  • Possibly the best spot in Bree Street when it comes to food. Set in an unpretentious deli-style space with a well-curated drinks menu that includes quality wines and craft beers, the selection of 8 dishes left just enough room for a dessert and coffee to end off the evening. Incredible flavours, fresh ingredients, generous portions - and while you're there you can grab a few favourite cooking ingredients from the shelves - from wood-smoked honey to sesame oil and frijoles negros. A must-go for all foodies.
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  • Now for 2 years I've been saying my top spot on the culinary food map in Cape Town is Chef's Warehouse. What better place for a foodie to sample and share 8 different places of usually outstanding quality and taste and style! And when I reccommend a place so frequently and highly, I mean it, and I give assurance of the best meal out. The first round of plates last night made gave me affirmation once again that my tapas sharing partner and I were in for a treat! Exquisite plating and unbelievable tastes - the yellow sashimi with black bean salsa blew my partners mind and the squid with nori puree and pickles was amazing! Next up, an overly salted onion risotto - but with beautifully caramalized onions on top - , then a vegetable 'Grecque' which stunned me in its lack of taste and meaning? The kingklip was slightly overcooked, the pork fillet was okay, the beef tartare lacked seasoning, taste and lustre. So the meal went from amazing to underwhelming each round, I feel let down. Judging from last night, Chef Liam is concentrating too much on his other ventures and consulting, and has taken his eye off the ball at Chef's Warehouse... pull your socks up Chef and give me confidence again in my favorite restaurant!
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  • Each dish is a taste experience in an uncluttered ambience where the food takes centre stage
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  • Thanks to Cape Town's finest wintery weather keeping punters at home, we were able to get a table immediately at 7.30pm on Friday night. We started with the oysters, which are served with a frankly drinkable light Asian dressing, before going onto the tapas for 2 (the only option in the evening). Plate after bowl of delicious, generous (we heard the table next door ask if the waitress was expecting more people to join them, when they saw the size of the spread!) and beautifully presented food came to our table, which we happily washed down with a Pinot Noir. A little lemon posset rounded off the experience beautifully. Service was easy-going yet efficient. Seating and tables are built for speed, not comfort, but the food is so incredible, that any discomfort at sitting on a stool is quickly forgotten. Last tapas orders need to be into kitchen by 8pm.
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  • Some of the best food i have had in Cape Town! Its a cute little restaurant (you can't book so if there is a group of you i suggest getting there early!) and every day the menu changes so you can go back every day! The tapas for 2 option gives you 8 dishes which is more than enough food! The portions are very generous and each dish is so incredibly flavoursome and exciting, everyone must try this place in their lifetime!
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Facilities

Stores and Markets

Owner: Liam Tomlin

Chefs Warehouse, the retail arm of Chefs Warehouse & Cookery School, is open to both the trade and general public and carries a wide range of quality products sourced locally and abroad, and includes kitchen equipment, appliances, books for cooks, crockery, cutlery and glassware, knives and utensils, chefs-wear, bar tools, lifestyle furniture and essential ingredients.

Store categories
Cooking schools, Kitchen tools

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