Venues

The Pot Luck Club

The Pot Luck Club
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Cost
R400 for a set menu (R200 extra for bottomless bubbly for Sunday Brunch); R100 per tapas size plate for lunch and dinner
Ambience
Comfy & casual
Food
Modern, Tapas
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500
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Critic's review

Linda Scarborough

Food
The Pot Luck Club has a lot going for it. Its membership to the Luke Dale-Roberts stable and its proximity to The Test Kitchen pretty much guarantees perennial popularity. Its location – on the top floor of the former silo at the Woodstock Biscuit Mill – displays the urban landscape to its best advantage, fringed by the train tracks on one side and the iconic mountain on the other. Add to the mix a menu of great cocktails and tapas, and it would probably be a winner without even trying.

The Pot Luck Club, however, is not one to rest on its laurels. At this eatery, easy does not do it. It might feel bright and edgy and modern and effortless inside, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

A menu of seemingly simple tapas belies the complexity and techniques layered in each dish. Unique ingredients, flavours and methods are borrowed from Asia, South America, South Africa and flipped on their heads. Street food turns fine dining, but it's accessible, sensational, thrilling food.

The menu – divided into sour, bitter, salty, umami and sweet – is very understated, a few words barely hinting at the magical dish to come. It doesn’t shout about its incredible produce, or the time-consuming and pain-staking methods involved in preparation. The waiter will tell you more if you look interested; the provenance of this, the type of wood used to smoke that. South African ingredients come to play too, offering some smokiness and depth here, and earthy nostalgia there.

Ciabatta made from masa (corn flour treated with limewater and dried, also used to make tortillas), is served with chimmichurri, braaied cauliflower dip and anchovy-and-kelp butter. It looks rustic, and is, but the execution of every element is flawless, from the crusty hot bread, aromatic with corn, to the zingy, smoky and salty accompaniments. You could eat just this and walk away happy.

The now-famous fish tacos live up to the hype. And how clever: the portion now comes in two bite-size tacos to make devouring – or sharing, if you really, really care about your companion – all the easier. A dish for the perhaps less adventurous is the amasi-battered fish sliders served on soft and light steamed buns. A crunch of lettuce and blob of mayo inside make for an irresistibly simple and tasty burger bite.

Then there’s the springbok carpaccio with smoked pine nuts, burned honey-soy dressing, and impasto-style layer of creamy goat’s cheese. The ceviche with jalapeño tiger’s milk, quinoa, and a tuile of samp and masa. Duck with naartjie segments, yuzu dressing, fine strips of sweet potato, and delicate yellow viola flowers. The steak tartare, polka dotted with avo purée on a slick black plate. The sensational smoked beef fillet with black pepper and truffle café au lait sauce that you will scrape up with your fingers until the bowl is clean.

A fascinatingly complex dish – and a treat for vegetarians – is the ash-baked celeriac with tahini, lentils, mint, goat’s cheese, hazelnut oil and roasted hazelnuts and 25-year-old balsamic vinegar. The plating is an exquisite mess, with artful dots, drizzles and smears in the best way possible. A must for the daring of palate.

Amidst all this seriously fine food, things can be childlike and fun, too. Chickpea fries are served in a charming cardboard box à la takeaways. But don’t expect a potato flavour: the interior is very soft and creamy, with a crispy, textured shell that’s ever-so-slightly bitter to complement the smoky tomato ketchup and aioli accompaniments.

To end off this flavour and texture adventure, you might want to go for the comforting strawberry-and-champagne-poached rhubarb with toasted oats ice cream and vanilla ricotta, rusk crumbs and shortbread, or the more airy and refreshing ‘poached egg’ of granadilla curd ‘yolk’ nestled in a soft and glossy Italian meringue ‘white’, on lime and elderflower set cream with little cubes of white-wine-and-strawberry jelly, resembling tomato salsa. Tonka-bean churros with malted chocolate sauce and malted chocolate fondant soufflé with halva ice cream round out the smart sweet offerings.

Drinks
If you feel unable to deviate from your favourite pineapple-vanilla cosmo – could any cocktail ever taste better? – you might be persuaded to try a sip of the green Thai curry cocktail. The chilli-ginger warmth will spread through your mouth, nose, head and entire body, tempered by the cooling litchi and coconut water – and who knows what else. These are drinks you won’t want to put down: the glass remains against your lips until the liquid is gone. The generous wine menu boasts a well-considered selection per varietal, with some special bottles, affordable house wines and plenty by the glass.

Service
Emerging from the glass elevator, dizzied by the height and drama of it all, you’ll receive a warm welcome at the front desk before being shown to your table. Guests place their orders on a little paper sheet and the kitchen sends dishes in the order they’d recommend so as to avoid clashes or delicate flavours coming after bold hits of chilli and smoke. These guys are pros.

Cutlery is discreetly replaced after each of the many dishes, water topped up and tables wiped down of any errant crumbs. It’s very casual and young, but still razor sharp. If you’re interested in hearing more about any of the elements, the waiters have impressively in-depth knowledge about how the dishes are prepared and cooked.

Ambience
The Pot Luck Club is almost better during the daytime, showing the 360°C views off to their best advantage. You’re teetering at the top of a burnished golden tower. Nothing has really changed décor-wise in the last few years, but it’s unfussy, uncluttered and ultra modern, so it doesn’t need to.

And…
Being able to see the bright young chefs manoeuvre expertly around the kitchen adds an extra frisson to the experience, with head chef Wesley Randles running a tight ship.
(October 2015)

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  • Food
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    Food
    This is crowd-pleasing food and boy, are these crowds pleased. Sticking to what works for them, The Pot Luck Club’s tapas-style menu is still divided into sections (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami), and abounds with extravagant flavour and edgy dishes devised by Luke Dale-Roberts and executed by head chef Wesley Randles. The fish tacos have become something of a legend, and for good reason. A serving of mussels steamed in bourbon and served in a chowder-esque broth with wood-fired corn is fantastic – the sweetest, plumpest bivalves you ever did see. And then there is the dish that can do no wrong: smoked beef fillet with truffled café au lait sauce – a decadent delight of pinkly smoked meat and rich, smooth truffle sauce. Desserts are not neglected; the pecan nut pie with celeriac ice cream is a knockout. No matter how often you go (that is, if you can manage to get a table), there’s always more to discover at this restaurant.

    Wine
    Expect an excellent wine list with unusual varietals and plenty of choice. Recommended wine pairings work like a charm with the Asian flavours of the food. And don’t forget about the cocktails – there are some very innovative choices on offer.

    Service
    Attentive and well-trained staff members are clearly pleased to be working here, and are eager to ensure diners’ satisfaction.

    Ambience
    Edgy and very stylish, sporting fantastic views over Cape Town and the harbour, this is undoubtedly one of the best settings in the country, with an energetic energy to match. It feels like going to New York for the night – well, maybe Brooklyn, which is perhaps the bigger compliment.

    (August 2014)

  • Keep the plates coming; you’re in for a flavour extravanganza. And what a view! Inside it’s all cool, urban edginess and you can see both Table Mountain and the harbour from up high. The ever-changing tapas-style menu (arranged according to sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami) is like riding a rollercoaster of flavours.Stand-out dishes: anything and everything, but try fish tacos; vodka-infused watermelon with Campari jelly; pig’s tails; prawns with tom ka gai butter; fillet with truffle café au lait sauce; sticky beef short rib; curried celery leaves; crispy pork belly with kimchi; and mushrooms on toast. (EO mag 2014)
    Editor's note: The Sunday brunch is available every Sunday 11.30am-4pm
  • Food
    The ever-changing menu features things like salted edamame beans; pulled lamb shoulder; tangy fish tacos; duck spring rolls; Asian-style shortrib; prawns with peanuts; and sour and crispy calamari. All are totally delicious, served in bite-size offerings. More substantial options include crispy pork belly with Luke’s XO dressing, red cabbage and apple slaw; and beef fillet with superb chocolate and coffee sauce scraped up with their perfect mini potato wedges. Finish up with deconstructed orange cheese cake; quince and almond tart with malted popcorn; or summer berries with olive oil ice cream.

    Wine
    An excellent list with some superb little numbers at a price.

    Service
    Relaxed but speedy. This is a different kettle of fish entirely to the neighbouring Test Kitchen, so expect to pour your own wine.

    Ambience
    Coolly modern, with polished steel-top tables, dark painted walls and artworks (which are for sale) on the walls. The kitchen is open and right there so you can watch Luke’s talented band at work.

    And...
    This works best with a small group so you can try many dishes. Take friends and have fun. (Greg Landman, January 2012)

User reviews

  • Must is to start with the fish Tacos, one to share between two enough The Beef Tartare is great , Avo and micro coriander The Beef with Cafe au Lait sauce is really great, the Beef is excellent quality Shave room for dessert the Chocolate soufflé and hava Ice cream is not knockout Great cocktails
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  • Had my 3rd meal here on 10 Dec with a group of friends. The food and the cooking is at an extraordinarily high level and just gets better and better. We ordered cured trout, springbok carpaccio, ceviche, beef tartare, fish tacos, calamari, robata lamb, beef fillet "cafe au lait", peri peri chicken, berries with sabayon, churros, all outstanding. Pork belly and fish sliders underwhelmed a bit compared to the other dishes but still tasted delicious. I'm really disappointed that the Korean fried chicken is off the menu; hopefully it makes a return in the future. Service was excellent although a few of the dishes we ordered arrived short in quantity. This was always very quickly rectified. DO NOT miss out on the cocktails, especially the Thai green curry. The bill came to R4000 for 7 people excluding service and is worth every cent. Cannot wait for my next visit!
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  • SETTING: EXCELLENT SERVICE: EXCELLENT FOOD: NOT WORTH THE MONEY WILL I GO BACK: NO DID I ENJOY THE EVENING:WITH THE FRIENDS THAT WAS WITH ME WE WILL ENJOY ANYTHING ANYWHERE!!
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  • My absolutely favourite restaurant in Cape Town. The vanilla cosmo is the best cocktail I've ever had - and that Cafe au lait sauce with the steak is the only sauce I've ever wanted to lick from the plate.
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  • One of my favourite Cape Town restaurants - spectacular setting and delicious food! Great that they have a separate vegetarian menu, which was fantastic for our overseas guests, one of whom is a veggie and doesn't often get a lot of choice of options when eating out.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • WiFi

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