A small menu that changes weekly, and an always-on set-menu special, makes this well-run modern bistro a neighbourhood favourite.
There’s just one downside to a menu that gets tweaked according to what’s fresh and abundant at the market – you may not find the dish you promised you’d be back for the last time you visited this popular Sea Point eatery. Or if you do discover that the braised pork belly is back in rotation, take note that instead of pulled pork and goat’s cheese ravioli and wilted greens, this time it may share the plate with roasted butternut and tomato and beetroot chutney.
Ditto the rabbit, much fancied by the La Boheme kitchen, who apply classic French techniques to this tricky meat but play around with accompaniments, such as potato gnocchi, edamame beans and roast cherry tomatoes alongside confit rabbit; or a hefty helping of aubergine and potato puree whose sheer volume seems to concede that the rabbit and bacon ballotine is on the dry side.
Vegetarians will typically find a single option each among the starters and mains, which is fine when you land the coconut lentil curry with salted pears, less thrilling when the grilled halloumi with strawberries, watercress and asparagus turns out impervious to the chilli dressing.
There’s a Mediterranean-inspired tapas menu if small plates are your thing, and crowd-pleasers such as sticky toffee pudding and apple tart for dessert.
Hot tip? If the springbok carpaccio with roast garlic, crème fraiche and horseradish isn’t on the menu, ask if the chef can rustle some up. It’s sublime.
BYO is permitted, but seems almost churlish when this much enthusiasm has gone into composing an extensive wine list that overflows onto a blackboard on the wall. In fact the wine choices so vastly outnumber the items on the food menu (plus there’s a full bar) that the missed opportunity seems to be a more curated list that gives greater consideration to what the chef is up to. A tight budget narrows down the choices. There are plenty by-the-glass options, starting at R50.
Friendly and competent, with this easily-remedied flaw: choosing where to sit is cool when you’re a local who knows the joint inside out, but on a first visit a bit of guidance is helpful.
Still looking spruce after 10 years, the inside area runs to the elegant end of bistro-casual, while things get more rustic outside. In case it matters, it’s a bit too low-lit to get a decent shot of your dinner for your Instagram account. Two reasons why you should Uber when you go: parking is scarce, and it’s a wine bar after all.
Second dates and midweek treats.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy.
A meal here always starts with a basket of moreish bread sticks, creamy hummus and a salty tapenade. If you’re lucky – or eat it fast enough – this will even be replenished swiftly before you order your starters.
The menu changes daily, but you’ll find light tapas items to kick things off, or bigger appetisers like risotto and pink prawns. Soups might include the likes of spicy chickpea-and-chorizo, which offers a pleasant, lingering heat. For mains, pulled lamb gnocchi is cloud-like and comes with a rich sauce of tomatoes, peas and artichokes. Vegetarians are also always catered for with dishes like generously filled butternut lasagna. If you’re here on a date, order the paella to share. The crème brûlée for dessert never disappoints.
A board labelled ‘wine friends’ will keep enthusiasts happy with some great local bottles and new wine gems. Kudos for a well-assembled and interesting selection of well-known and off-the-radar wines at very reasonable mark-ups. And an extra pat on the back for the range of quality wines offered by the glass. What a pity that my two first choices were out of stock! However, the service is friendly and knowledgeable on the extensive wine list.
The welcome was rather abrupt, with a hand waving us to sit anywhere in a largely empty room, despite the fact that we had booked well in advance. But the broad smile from the staff and willingness to please more than made up for that.
The décor is Bistro 101, with brown paper tablecloths and smallish tables close to each other. This is one of those restaurants that needs people to create the atmosphere.
The sidewalk tables are great for people-watching in summer; and the standing gas heaters are a welcome addition in the winter.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.