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The Shortmarket Club

The Shortmarket Club
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Cost
R250 per person
Ambience
Bar scene, Groups
Food
Contemporary fare, Modern
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R60

Critic's review

Tudor Caradoc-Davies

Food
Razzmatazz, that’s what comes through at The Shortmarket Club. Judging from the obscure entrance and skinny stairs, it has the feel of a closed members’ club. That feel continues into the décor of the bar area and the main dining room with its high ceilings, comfortable booths and smart waiters. Armed with blow torches for caramelising desserts and trolleys for showing off trays of meat, the service is slick and friendly.

The restaurant is run by chef Luke Dale-Roberts, with right-hand man Wesley Randles manning the kitchen.

We start with the grass-fed beef tartare and the crispy pig cheek. The tartare (cavelo nero pesto, celeriac dashi and frozen parmesan) is what I like in a tartare, a statement of the chef’s taste as opposed to the DIY approach to tartare, which often makes you feel like you are paying to make your own dish. The crispy pig cheek, with pickled endive and an umami-soaked XO-braised quinoa is similarly satisfying, bringing flesh, fat and crackling together with sweet-and-sour lashings.

For mains, ‘The pasta dish’ (with grass-fed oxtail ragù, fennel done three ways, burnt butter and parmesan) is both visually exciting and a gustatory deep dive. A great big flap of pasta with unctuous toppings, it’s absolutely outstanding. Instead of one of the great-looking cuts of meat being displayed on trays, we opt for the roasted artichoke with a hazelnut, mint and lentil dressing, aged balsamic, celeriac, labneh and goats cheese. A rich, woody and earthy combination of flavours, it feels just as decadent as ordering the aged rib-eye.

Dessert comes in the form of a surprisingly delicate ‘For the love of baked cream’, a lavender-and-mozzarella crème brûlée. There’s also the indulgent chocolate fondant, made with 80% Valrhona chocolate, popcorn ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, cream of burnt caramel and hazelnut.

From the plates to the platters, the celebration and elevation of seemingly simple dishes like artichokes or pasta, to headline dishes, The Shortmarket Club takes you on a decadent spin.

Drinks
An interesting selection of wines that includes several rising boutique winemakers, but it’s on the pricey side.

Service
Strong. Waiters are attentive, available and fast.

Ambience
There’s no shortage of ambience. The hidden stairwell, the ritzy bar, the open kitchen, the expansive dining room, the wall of butterflies – this is where jet setters in the 50s would come to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll enter to the sound of a big band brass section and some stomping heavyweight percussion, eat to the tempo of a snare drum, and stumble out on the last triumphant peal of a trumpet solo.

And…
They often have great prix fixe lunch specials.

(October 2017)

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food

User reviews

  • Beautiful evening, Mathew and the Oyster Trolley with Gin service reminded me of dinner at Sardi’s New York and Ciro’s in the 1960’s owned by Joe Kentridge in Johannesburg
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  • On saturday May 12 we had looked forward to end our 2 week trip to South Africa with a delicious dinner at Shortmarket Club. We know from previous visits that the food and service is not only delicious but with attention to detail, and impeccable. Indeed it is what you expect from a restaurant, which required reservation months in advance as well as confirmation by credit card. So much greater the disappointment when we realised the restaurant had accepted to host a large birthday party also in the main room. Noise level was in the end not at all what you would expect from the image Shortmarket Club wants to convey - or anywhere for that matter. And the service at our small table - only (!) 2 persons - got inattentive and stressed. The service and ambiance let the food down. I dont know if this is a typical saturday evening in Cape Town - large, noisy groups even in the restaurants trying to focus on the food. But it was the case for us that saturday in Shortmarket Club. In the end staff tried to compensate, but they were clearly not ready to ask the party to calm down. In our view they should never had accepted our reservation. Since we were only 2 persons conversation between us was in the end impossible. I will not go back - too many other good places to even bother. And to you: stay away saturdays unless you are also a group.
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  • Amazing!!!!
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  • Awsome
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    • Food
  • An absolutely sublime evening all round, ambience, service, everything lovely. Food was good quality, but not front and centre of the experience, however that may have had to do with us getting distracted by the oyster card which was what we had to start, - and then one or two items on the menu being out of stock. Must have is the potato churros - out of this world.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • WiFi

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