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The Mess Restaurant

The Mess Restaurant
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Cost
R150 avg main meal
Ambience
Bar scene, Groups, Kids, Special occasions
Food
Modern, Pub fare, Tapas
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R50 per 750ml

Critic's review

Zola Nene

Food
Located in De Waterkant in Cape Town, this contemporary restaurant and bar is ideal for an evening meal with friends. The menu is geared towards sharing, with tapas and small plates forming a large section of the menu. The roti-like flatbreads are the perfect flaky companion to the mezze dips and starters. The tuna ceviche is their signature dish, served on a crisp wonton with extra wedges of lime. The tacos are smaller than usual tacos, but packed quid or pork belly. Ask the waiter how many diners each plate feeds and multiply accordingly to the number of guests dining.

The main courses are substantial and also easily sharable amongst the table. Be sure to enquire about the chef’s main course special on offer, which changes daily. The braised lamb neck is the ideal dish on a cold winter’s evening – the rich, sticky and decadent dish has the meat falling apart effortlessly at the touch of a fork. The vegetarian offering is small, with only a handful of dishes catering to non-meat eaters.

The dessert choice is also limited, with three desserts on offer. One is an Eton mess reimagined, composed of panna cotta, meringue, fresh fruit and sorbet. It’s a must-try.

Drinks
The wine menu comprises of an adequate selection of local wine varieties. Also available is a selection of gin cocktails amongst the other classic cocktails on offer. For those who don’t consume alcohol, there are a few non-alcoholic cocktail creations on the menu too.

Service
Food is quick to come out of the kitchen and the shared plates each arrive at your table as soon as they’re ready to ensure they’re eaten at their optimum. The service is relaxed and easy, with plenty of staff available to assist with menu queries.

Ambiance
The centrepiece of the restaurant is a large wooden tree-like structure that doubles as an art feature as well as a light fixture. The room is dotted with triangular cages of lamps that glisten, lighting up the room with shimmery light. The lamps give an illusion of wooden fires on a cold winter’s evening. Outside, the small courtyard would be the perfect setting for a few sundowners in the warmer months. The tables are small, with the booth stations offering the most comfortable seating. The large bar offers great seating if you visit for a quick drink or are dining alone.

(September 2017)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy

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  • Ami Kapilevich

    Food
    It’s all about the sharing at The Mess, where tapas-style tasters are encouraged for starters, and even the mains can be enjoyed by more than one. Owner Carlene de Gouveia’s enthusiasm for fresh fusions and seductive stalwarts is infectious.

    It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into producing a balanced menu, where delightful surprises like pickled goat’s cheese spread and soft-shell crab with smoky mayo as starters share the stage with crowd favourites like aubergine melanzane and squid with chorizo.

    Speaking of sharing, the tapas-style eatery emphasises experiencing as many dishes as possible, so the trio of mezze spreads (confit duck, white bean and tahini, pickled goat’s cheese) on the yoghurt-and-thyme flatbreads set the mood.

    The beef tataki gets a drizzle of ponzu dressing, and tuna ceviche on wonton tostadas are generously plated. Mains consist of a selection of Angus beef or pork loin ribs with separately ordered sides and sauces. The saffron lamb neck is a triumph. All in all, the starters are an adventure that leads you to a destination where the mains are delicious and unpretentious – with a confident flourish.

    Drinks
    Owner Carlene’s experience in the wine industry shows in the selection of her wines. Expect a glamorous selection of the Rupert family’s higher-end offerings and some intriguing options in between. Word to the wise: Enjoy a glass or bottle of white with the starters, and a spicy Shiraz with mains.

    Service
    We are generally impressed with the friendliness and attention levels of the staff, but one or two queries could have been dealt with a bit more confidently. (For example, there was no merlot on the winelist, and the waitress couldn’t give a reason for this.)

    Ambience
    Some people will enjoy the fact that The Mess is situated at the corner of The Rockwell, which means that it is one of several restaurants along the tucked away strip in De Waterkant. Others might turn their noses up to it. It depends entirely on your mood and reason for eating out on the night. The Mess has fabulous food that deserves to be shared and celebrated with good company, and if the weather is good (no wind or rain) the outside area has a vibe that suits this social style of eating. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a romantic or intimate meal here, but for the full experience, gather some friends and treat yourselves to a modern-day banquet of note.

    And…
    Vegetarians are catered for with four gorgeous starter options and a Cape Malay curry main.

    (February 2017)

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

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User reviews

  • What a great unassuming place. The food is so astounding its unreal. The whole sharing plates thing really makes this the kind of place to be social. Cant wait to return!
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  • Fantastic new restaurant in the heart of Greenpoint! Amazing share plates, great weekly specials and the pork belly is divine! 100% recommended!
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  • Great Food. Epic Service. Will definitely be back because there is so much to try!
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  • We decided to try The Mess for dinner with friends. The potential is there, but it's not worth the wait. We waited 2 hours to get 4 tiny tapas dishes. We had the flatbreads with goats cheese and dukkah and the duck confit rillette. It was good but small. Then 30 minutes later the slivers of beef tataki arrived. 30 minutes after that the micro tuna ceviche tacos arrived, underwhelming us with flavour. At this point, we were starving and after waiting another 30 minutes we canceled the rest of our orders. The waitress was left on her own to explain why everything was taking so long, while the owner never left the kitchen. After all this, they still brought one more dish, the cauliflower and mushrooms. We could've gone without those. During all this time waiting we went through 2 bottles of champagne, and at R275 a bottle, that was our quota, so we sat at the table thirsty and hungry for the rest of our snack.
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  • I'm always excited to try new places, but the Mess let me down (I am spoilt for choice in Cape Town!) The place is nice, but acoustics not great, a bit noisy although it was half full.) The service was attentive and fast, the food just wasn't on a par I expected. The beef tataki was just swimming in soya sauce, the duck rillette had no seasoning while the flat bread was over-salty. The tuna ceviche on crispy tacos/nachos was good! We were too underwhelmed to try mains and left. Its early days so hopefully they will find their groove and flavours. Good luck Mess.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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