Venues

The Duchess of Wisbeach

The Duchess of Wisbeach
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  • Phone Number 021 434 1525
  • Location The Courtyard Building No3 Wisbeach Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
  • email wisbeach.duchess@gmail.com
  • Opening Hours

    Lunch: Sunday 12.30pm - 2pm

    Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6:30pm - 10:30pm

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Cost
R110
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Modern
Payment
Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Food
As It says on the window, you’ll get a ‘bord kos’ (plate of food) done in style. Delicious fish fingers with raita are as far from the supermarket variety as you can imagine. Try the generous, crunchy prawn cakes with tartar sauce; knockout salads with avo, feta and egg; lamb shanks; or ‘ou meide onder die kombers’ (braised cabbage rolls filled with meat). The homemade ice cream flavours change all the time, so maybe you’ll get chocolate with espresso or honeycomb. Irresistible.

Wine
A good list, with all of the wines available by the glass.

Service
It’s like one big happy family. Smooth and friendly, verging on the familiar, but the regulars seem to like that.

Ambience
With brick walls, large portraits of duchesses in ornate frames, and porcelain doggies on every table (plus the real ones belonging to owner Theresa Beukes), the venue is very theatrical but without too much show.

And...
Linger at the tiny, chic bar for a pre-prandial cocktail, or sip a liqueur afterwards to soak up the atmosphere. (GL, October 2011)
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User reviews

  • Worst attitude from arrogant owner!
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  • The first thing one notices upon arrival is the scent. It's a sweet, aromatic, inviting. I'm not a cigarette smoker any more, but I can appreciate a good aroma - and this restaurant has plenty of it. Takes me back to the sidewalk cafes of Paris in the 70's. Pall Mall, Camels, Time, Parliaments, Peter Stuyvesant's - all the classics. Our waiter was a real gentleman - warm handshakes on arrival. Once we were seated he then proceeded to give us a brief, yet detailed, explanation of the wines on offer. Quinta Do Vale Meão stood out from the rest, so we got two bottles between the two of us. I can't comment much on the food as we didn't really get to it - we were stuffed from all the cigarettes and wine! I suggest that you don't bring your own cigarettes to the restaurant. Rather let the Tobacconist walk you through the fine selection of cigarettes in the cigarette lounge right next to the bar.
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  • Terrible, terrible restaurant!!!!!! When i went there i ordered a soup to start. When it arrived i asked if i may have some bread with my soup. Our waitress said she would ask the chef aka the dutchess. When our waitress asked the chef if i could have some bread, the chef screamed on the top of her lungs, "WE DO NOT DO BREAD HERE!!! IF HE IS DESPERATE FOR BREAD GIVE HIM THE BREAD ON DISPLAY!!!!" Just to clarify, the tables are literally directly next to the open-plan kitchen, so she was basically screaming into my ear and directly communicating with me. Also the bread 'on display' was part of an old decoration the restaurant had set up on a side table merely for visual purposes, and must have been around 6 months old. The whole restaurant seemed very uncomfortable after her rant. I would possibly understand a measure of annoyance from her side, if it had been specified on the menu or elsewhere in the restaurant that thye dont serve bread, but it was't specified anywhere. On top of this the food was quite average and very overpriced, and in Cape Town where there is such an abundance of great food at great prices, average is actually terrible. If you want a similar type of atmosphere with much better food and prices in this area head down the road to La Mouette.
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  • I was really looking forward to the rack of lamb special I paid R160 for severly under cooked lamb cutlets basically. Food was very average across our table ... The place itself has a nice quirky feeling to it but I definitely feel like I won't be going back for the food unfortunately Sorry guys but not worth the price
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  • No words could ever describe my dining experience at this restaurant! Absolutely shocking. I am still in shock at the manner in which we were treated when we expressed our dissatisfaction with the food to the owner.
    Food was terrible. No value for money, way overpriced.
    Dogs running around. Smoke everywhere. Smoking section was not blocked off. Is this not illegal??
    Music too loud, shebeen like.
    I was not surprised to see so many bad reviews online commenting on how rude the owner is.
    I would never return or recommend this restaurant.
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  • Undeniable the WORST dining experience of my life. The food was inedible and the owner was rude and obnoxious and completely unwilling to offer any compensation. Basically showing our dinner party the 'middle finger'. Extremely embarrassed that our UK clients had to experiences this level of 'fine dining'.
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  • This place has gone down in my books! I've been there a few times and have had a relatively pleasant experience. However, after going there in Sept 2014 I can honestly say I have no desire to return.

    The service was poor. Cigarette smoke from the bar lingered through to the restaurant. I had the chicken pie which tasted sour, and my friend had the prawn cakes, which was basically one big potato and minimal, if any prawns in that prawn cake. I complained about my pie, and the waiter told me "he did not understand what I meant by sour" and promptly walked away never to return. We had to get the bill from another waiter.

    Quite frankly, the food was poor and completely over-priced for what you get. The service was very bad and the whole experience was made worse by the constant cigarette smoke coming through to the restaurant.

    I won't be going back there again.
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  • Average boring food at excessive prices. Dogs running around, cigarette smoke from the bar at the entrance and for dessert the place turns into a deafening wannabe disco. Not our kind of "vibe" for dinner. Never again!
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  • Went to The Duchess of Wisbeach for first time with friends from the uk. Lovely warm friendly atmosphere. Mussels and calamari were delicious. My friend chose the kingklip which was a bit disappointing - tasteless and did not taste like kingklip. Restaurant had been recommended by friends and it certainly lived up to its recommendation. Another nice restaurant to add to my list.
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  • Went to The Duchess on Saturday night 10th August 2013 by default as I was invited by my work colleague Stacy Janit. On entering the restuarant the ambience was unbelievable, the vibe was amazing and when the food arrived - wow! I ordered the Peri Peri Chicken - was unbelievable. The service was awesome - this restuarant has become my number one. I can't wait to book a table for all my friends to experience! Love Gavin Peters!

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  • What a lovely evening - food was excellent.

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  • Returned to Duchess of Wisbeach for a romantic Valentines Dinner. Had been there before and was pleased to be returning there. My partners main (Battered Kingklip with Chips) arrived undercooked (aka RAW). We duly sent it back to have our word questioned about it twice. We were then ordered to order something else as this is how its prepared - If wed wanted sushi we would have gone somewhere else. Displeasing service, made worse by the loud and inappropriate banter between the maitre d and the chef/owner. Good service from waiter though...
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  • Expensive winelist, the corkage is the highest in South Africa. Found pieces of cork in the salad...from a wine bottle.

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  • Went to the Duchess of Wisbeach for the first time last night after calling for a booking just an hour before. The stately and glamorous decor is a treat. Very loud (yes, there are lots of mutterings from the kitchen) and vibey and definitely for all the who's who in Cape Town! Well priced and chosen wine list. Service was great and the fillet was utterly melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness! Thank you.

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  • We had dinner there on Saturday night. The evening was enjoyable but that had more to do with our company rather than the restaurant, although I will state that the service was not bad. There were 10 of us for dinner. The stuffed onions were under-cooked and hardly stuffed with Gorgonzola (we sent these back), the gnocchi was absolutely revolting and inedible and when my friend sent it back after 5 of us had tasted it (and confirmed that it tasted like rancid garlic), the chef and owner Theresa, shouted loudly from the kitchen area "Bullshit!". I asked the waiter if she was referring to our complaint about the gnocchi and he confirmed this fact and added "welcome to Theresa". This behaviour is completely unacceptable. Further, the chocolate mousse had not set and is definitely not value for money. The remaining meals were of an average standard and nothing special. Will not be returning.

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  • This is by far my favourite restaurant in Cape Town. From the ambience to the staff and to the food. I have never been disappointed and am now a regular. This is truly one of Cape Town's hidden gems!

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  • Sad to say, but ate there for the first time last night! Wow! We loved it. Unpretentious, down to earth, but very tasty and fresh food. Best chips I have ever had. Fish tasted like it had just been caught. Three of us had the steak which was lovely and one had the chicken. Those complaining about the prices don't have to eat there right? We loved it and will be back. Service was attentive and top notch and kitchen staff were lovely.

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  • After spending a good ten minutes choosing what we wanted off the menu we were told that one of the items was not on the menu. Surely you should tell the customer right from the beginning as I was forced to make a quick second choice. Then our starters came the same time as our main so by the time we ate our main course, it was already cold. My wife ordered the fillet steak medium/rare - the steak was well done. I ordered a baby chicken for R130. And that's all I got with a bit of cucumber and onion on the side. I ordered a plate of chips for R47! (do they put flakes in them?) The couple we went with had the lamb chops for R130 (2 small chops, which were ok, nothing amazing) and the flattened chicken (I think it was R120 for a single chicken breast, peas and gem). We eat out a lot and I don't mind paying for good quality food but to charge this much for food that tastes like ordinary home cooked meals with portions half the size, I would rather just pop by my parents for dinner. Great decor and atmosphere but unfortunately not a place for the hungry or those looking for food that is extraordinary.

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  • Was disappointed. Magazine articles paint a pretty picture but the reality of our experience was average. Small portions and the bread and butter pudding was over microwaved. Service was friendly and informed. But not good enough to bring us back.

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  • We had high expectations of the Duchess which were shattered after a rather appalling meal. The fishcakes were not cooked properly, the gnochhi was so salty that we sent it back and the beef tagliata was a salt pan. Wish it had been better!

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  • Tonight we ate at the Duchess of Wisbeach, and how precious that duchess is - the batter was raw and when it got questioned the replay was "but you ate the fish". Generally very disappointed with the food, service however was good - guys you will do better at snoekies if you are after 'home cooked fish and chips'.

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  • What an absolute treasure and pleasure of a restuarant right on my doorstep. The Decor is utterly wonderful, the service sublime, the food was really good and it was a fabulous evening out with a bunch of friends. I would equally be comfortable dining there alone. I think I've just discovered my new local. Di x

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  • If I ever had my own restaurant - I'd like it to be like Duchess. The atmosphere is everything. You always feel welcomed in to the family, and the bar is perfect, both to start the evening, or end it off. Staff is fantastic and personal in the right way. It all has an air of happy crazy elegance to it. And the food? Really good, and it's getting better and better. The salads are to die for and very generous. Tagliatan one of the best in town. Pastas well cooked and tasty. Steak yummie. Etc etc. When summer comes to an end Duchess is on the short list at least once a week.

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  • Glorious, you won't enjoy anywhere more in Seapoint!

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  • Great decor and atmosphere, good service. Food generally disappointing, especially at this price. A smoking bar beside the food is just wrong.

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  • A real gem! and my new favourite!

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  • I had a fantastic time on Saturday night. The food is pricey, however with the delicious fillet and great service, it is well worth it. The bar interior is very Dorothy Draper, while the dining room has beautiful French prints - so nice to eat in such a pleasing atmosphere. And love the dogs running around!

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  • Great decor and vibe - and quirky service totally offset by exorbitant prices for mostly average tasting food. If you are going to charge R65 for a Halloumi salad starter, please include more than one mingy piece of Halloumi, two pieces of avo and a few lettuce leaves, while R130 for a Rib-eye steak the size of a business card and a few chips is also pretty stiff. Good value was however enjoyed on the lamb shank (R105) although we did wait 40 minutes for it as we were told "the chef wanted to get it just right." Come guys, this restaurant can be one of the great gems of Cape Town if you can get the value for money right. Like many (fortunate) Captonians I am happy to pay for it, but you need to provide something special with the food!

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  • Was quite difficult to find, but more due to my own doing. Nice decor! If people are smoking in the bar, it does affect you if you have a table stationed nearby. While the food was tasty and of sufficient portion, I feel that the pricing is out of kilter. One can get better quality food at less than what I paid. That said, all in all a decent enough evening, but will not go back in a hurry.

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  • While the food at the Duchess is comforting, Im afraid that it is horribly overpriced. At R100, two lamb meat balls with mashed potatoes is too much. Add to that R38 for an additional serving of gem squash, and the main course totalled to nearly R140! Sad, because the decor is very special, and the general feel is one of a beautiful secret hideaway. The service is also very welcoming and our waitress was great fun. I just couldnt help feeling that Id been done in by the time wed left. R620 (excl. tip) for two people would have bought us a much better meal at many other places in Cape Town. The irony is that we decided against an evening at Nobu because we felt it was going to be too expensive for the evening we had in mind.
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  • I must say, after reading the comments above, I was extremely concerned. It was my birthday and I had invited 10 very special people to join me for a wonderful dinner. The food was lovely 7/10, the service was a 9/10 (very high for CT) and the ambience of the place was a solid 9/10. Overall, I would certainly return to this magical place.
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  • Got to say, the worst restaurant in Cape Town - priciest boer kos ever. This restaurant is in over their heads about what a real restaurant is. Crazy!
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  • Had dinner there last night, lovely place but alas the food is not seasoned properly. The spicy fish fingers not spicy and bland - no fish flavour. Prawn cakes chock full of potatoes and so was every other dish. Is the chef Irish? Boiled potatoes in every dish and not very nice potatoes. Peeled and tasteless. The fillet was excellent, fish stew tasty and the toffee brownie pudding outstanding. I think the chef must just get his staff to taste the food and Wisbeach could be superb.
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  • The restaurant is located on one of the sleaziest corners of Sea Point. There are rats running around and, ten metres from the glamorous entrance of the Duchess, garbage is often dumped and street-people are sleeping overnight. In my understanding, this is not the up-market ambience this restaurant tries to portray so frantically.
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  • Quite possibly the worst restaurant Ive ever eaten at. Avoid at all costs.
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  • I hope its just for a holiday, but I have heard that your positively-brilliant chef has left. Please dont say its true?
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  • Had to wait over an hour for our reserved table. Why did they overbook the restaurant? They are really expensive for what they serve. When you charge what they charge, you either expect a great view, great food or great service and we got none of these. R95 for a hamburger and R43 for French fries? I really would not recommend eating here. There are much better places to eat in CT with better value for money.
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  • A brilliant evening with excellent service, and excellent starters, main and dessert.
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  • What a great evening, great ambience, beautifully cooked food and watching the chef/patron ( Duchess) run the restaurant and kitchen was a delight.
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  • If you like overpriced mediocre food served in a smoke infused brash wannabe-in crowd atmosphere, this is the place for you. Who serves plain old (dry) cottage pie for R100+? Service was the only redeeming factor, as is the quirky decor and 2 dogs roaming the restaurant. The smoke from the tiny bar/entrance area wafted into the restaurant (is this legal?). I feel completely ripped off and will not recommend this restaurant to anyone.
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  • Nice vibe, nice food, nice people. BUT they charge a lot, and skimp on the ingredients. Example - Salad costs R65. They gave us 99% lettuce leaves, 2 cherry tomatoes, a shaving of cucumber and onion and a hint of avo. Cottage Pie - R95, 99% potato and 1% meat. Plate of chips R40, nice, but not outstanding. Cucumber Soup - R50 pricey for what it comprises.
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  • What a lovely homely restaurant. The ambience , service and the food was exactly what I expected...EXCELLENT. I think the owner made a special effort to make me feel welcome.
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  • If you enjoy loud, overbearing waitrons, who smoke and drink during service, in full view of the customers, dogs coming up to your table, awful food and an arrogant owner, whose customer service skills are zero, then this is the place for you. Dont expect too much on the food front though unless of course you dont mind paying high prices for mediocre food you could make better yourself. Im obviously way too demanding in expecting a good environment, good food, polite waitrons and an owner who has the decency not to turn her back on a customer who has a query as regards to the meal.
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  • The interior is pretty, and our waitron was fun. But the food... I had the fishcakes and the one was bland, the other had no flavour. They tasted like ones I could have bought anywhere. The chips were nice. The chicken was undercooked (though the peri peri sauce was good). The steak average. I wouldnt go back again.
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  • Eclectic and enchanting, this cosy little spot really made an impression.Grand mirrors, glitz and glamour give it a feeling of grandeur while the porcelain dogs on the tables brought it down to earth with a bit of bric-a-brac added to the mix. The wine list is limited with nothing between R55 and R180 if you drink red, we chose a few cocktails and then settled on the house red which wasnt too bad. They make a very good Cosmo indeed. The starters of grilled figs stuffed with gorgonzola on rocket, grilled calamari and the courgette and parmesan soup were simply tasty. Mains were a bit of a botch up as we all wanted the roasted lamb shoulder (after the waitress sung its praises) and there were only two left. Disappointed, I changed to the crayfish pasta which was a bit meagre and fairly bland and a friend had the steak which was excellent. The lamb was succelent and crispy, served with a caper sauce and measured up to its hype. We shared a side serving of spinach parmesan, simply delicious! We finished off with some Dom Pedros and a very yummy chocolate brownie. Good food on the most part and the service was adequate. The vibe is a little off the wall with some intersting patrons including the resident Jack Russel. Will definitely go back!
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  • Great feeling about this place - very friendly waiting staff and the whole place has a feeling of one big party. We have dined there twice now and the food has been terrific. Last visit I ate cabbage rolls with mashed potato and they were divine. The meat inside the cabbage was dense and tasty and the whole dish was a delight. We are dining there tonight and the owner is doing Toad in the Hole especially for my husband. One of the nicest dining experiences we have had in Cape Town.
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  • We went for dinner early on a Friday night before heading off to a movie. It was my second time there but my husbands first so I was eager for him to love it as much as I had on my first visit. Our waitress was OK but seemed overly busy. She encouraged my husband to have the chicken sausages which she promised were juicy and delicious. I specifically asked if they were dry. I ordered the Mediterranean fish soup which included a large prawn.The food arrived. My husbands sausages were inedible--they were so dry. My soup had no prawn which I only realised after we had left.I told the owner as I left about the sausages but she did not seem overly concerned and said thats just how the sausages are because they have no fat in them - but thats not what we were promised. All in all not happy and my husband will not go back.
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  • I adore the place. Its fun and feels like something one might find tucked into a delicious side street of Soho, New York. The owner is gloriously insane and doesnt take prisoners - be nice and she is even nicer! Food is unpretentious and perfect, and the place is almost always packed with the design crowd who are very easy on the eye. Certainly the cherry on the top of new places in Cape Town.
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  • I booked a table for last night on recommendation, read the reviews and contemplated cancelling the booking. What a stroke of luck we decided to give it a go. The food was superb, I had the BEST mussels I have ever eaten and all the food ordered was delicious. Our waitress (Roxy) was relaxed, efficient and very helpful in the selection of our food, a true professional!It was noisy, but it all added to the vibe, and there was definitley no hint of cigarette smoke inside. Excellent value for money, we will certainly be back - THANK YOU.
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  • Nice décor; good service from friendly, relaxed staff (much apologising from a range of people when my husbands order was forgotten, and he was given a free dessert to compensate!); great mussels and fish stew. Very, very noisy, though. Wonder if anything could be done about the acoustics?
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  • Tasty food, lively atmosphere and friendly and attentive service.
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  • The concept might be cute but everyone was shouting to be heard above the music. Even though were young (thirties), we found it loud and not what we wanted - which was good food in a quiet relaxing environment.
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  • We really liked the new offering from The Duchess in Cape Town and were fans of Theresas at Sams Cafe and Finos in Joburg. Yes, it is loud but fun, the wine list is limited but interesting and well priced. The food was great. As for service, the staff were friendly but if you are looking for efficiency...well it is Cape Town after all! We will be back!
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  • My poor head. I wont be able to hear for a week.
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  • A marvelous spot with excellent service, gorgeous interiors and a buzzing sexy crowd. This hidden gem is simply a must for any one visiting Cape Town.
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  • Comfort food in an elegant setting, with pretty staff and good service. Sadly, it is all seriously compromised by the lack of a barrier between the bar and the restaurant. Cigarette smoke clouds certainly affected our evening. We did ask to move, and when this eventually happened, things improved but until the ventilation is sorted out, we wont be back.
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  • This popular new Sea Point restaurant is heavily booked already, despite only operating for about a month.Owner Theresa Beukes moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg, where she owned Fino’s in Parktown North, and Sam’s Cafe in Melville, and ran a cookery school, and loves it here. “Cape Town has been good to me”, she says. She says they are fully booked most nights, and turn tables over twice most nights.Wisbeach Street is not easy to find - from Beach Road one drives up alongside the Winchester Mansions Hotel, and turns first left. The restaurant is just before the stop street, at Main Road. The exterior already attracts interest - a British terrace house look, with striped canopy. One steps inside a large bar area, with a massive stuffed cow’s head keeping an eye on things in the bar, giving a strong masculine first impression. From the bar area one moves into the tiny but buzzing restaurant, with just 14 tables, seating just over 40 patrons at a time. The tables are very close together. The interior decor has an old-world British feel to it, and feels feminine, and one thinks of The Grand Cafe’s in Camps Bay and in Plettenberg Bay, although there are no velvet curtains. One’s first reaction is that one has stepped into an oasis, from grubby Sea Point outside.The food preparation area is inside the restaurant, and is at a raised level, allowing Theresa and her kitchen colleagues cooking in the “galley kitchen”, as she calls it, to have a good eye over the restaurant, without the patrons seeing what is going on behind the counter. Theresa’s sense of humour is soon evident, as every table has a porcelain dog on it, rather than flowers, as one could expect. A real well-behaved dog can be seen in the restaurant too.The waitresses are beautifully dressed in bustier-style cocktail dresses which could be made from silk, most wearing it in black, but a cream-coloured dress looks equally attractive. The menu and winelist are printed on cream coloured paper, a no-nonsense listing. The wines look well-priced. A glass of Colmant Cap Classique costs R 35, the bottle of Iona Gunnar is the most expensive at R 190, while the De Grendel Merlot and Shiraz cost R 139 each. The starters cost R 45 - R 55, and include ‘Queen Mother’s Prawn Cocktail’, a traditional shrimp and avocado cocktail, with the avocado skin removed, and the prawns being warm. It would have been nicer with cold prawns. The presentation is unexciting, served on a bed of shredded lettuce. Other starters include steak tartare, fish cakes, and fish fingers. Mains cost R 70 - R 85, and include chicken curry, prawns, fillet steak, chicken bangers, lamb knuckle, fish and chips and the line fish. Desserts cost between R 35 - R 45, and the choice includes ice cream, pannacotta and chocolate mousse.Our waitress is charming, and is honest in telling us that it is her first night at the restaurant. One would not have thought so. Food is brought to the table quickly, and the starter and main course are served within an hour of arriving. The fillet is not special, the verdict being that the quality of the meat is not what it could be. The kingklip is excellent, with a unique lemon, orange and ginger sauce. Theresa does not use cream or butter in her cooking, so the sauce is thin and runny, but yummy! The chocolate mousse is served in a coffee cup, with a dollop of cream on top, tasting a little sour. The portion sizes are small, and this explains the good prices of the dishes on the menu. Theresa chats with us, in between a quick smoke break, and tells us that a lot about her restaurant is tongue in cheek, especially the name, which may create an expectation of grandeur, but in reality is unpretentious and good value, she says. The food presentation certainly reflects this, with no attempt made to decorate the plates. The business card has ”bord kos” written under the name of the restaurant, and that is exactly what one gets at the Duchess of Wisbeach! It could disappoint those diners who expect more from the name of the restauarnt, and even from the restaurant interior.The total cost of one starter, two main courses, one glass of bubbly and one dessert was R290.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Dinner
  • Dog-friendly
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Smoking
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair

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