Tjing Tjing Torii

Cost
R85 avg main meal
Ambience
Contemporary cool, Hip & happening
Food
Asian, Modern
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
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Critic's review

Food
Tucked away upstairs above Dear Me, this night time-only venue is a real hidden gem. Tapas dishes are Japanese and Asian-inspired, and are relatively affordable, considering the quality – so order a feast, and try a wide range of the fabulous flavourful dishes.

From the sides portion of the menu, the miso corn – chargrilled on the cob, with a lump of mindblowing miso butter – should not be missed. The burst of sweetness from the corn contrasts beautifully with the saltiness of the miso butter. The nasu dengaku – a miso-glazed roast eggplant – is almost meaty, thanks to its unctuous, umami-rich glaze. The piece de resistance in the umami department, however, is the ochazuke: a bowl of sushi rice swimming in a warming matcha and dashi broth, topped with tender pan-fried fish. The broth offers a serious punch of umami and, with the addition of sticky sushi rice, this is a Japanese-inspired answer to comfort food.

On the plates menu, try the karaage chicken – crispy batter on the outside, tender thighs on the inside – and a tasty lime and chilli aioli to boot. The sticky pork ribs – once only a special – are now thankfully on the main menu.

For dessert, try the sublime sorbet (sake, lime and pickled ginger) or look out for the blackboard offering a taste of Dear Me. On the night we visit, there’s a churro bowl on offer, which turns out to be an actual bowl constructed out of churro batter then filled with the creamiest ice cream we’ve ever encountered.

It’s not perfect. The gourmet hot dogs yield less oohing and ahhing from our table (although the crispy onions are a great touch) and on one recent visit the ribs are a little dry. But it’s likely you’ll hit the jackpot with some of the dishes – and everyone in your party will find their own favourite.

Drinks
A knowledgeable but very down-to-earth sommelier is on hand to guide you through the interesting wine list, if that’s what you’re after. Otherwise, try one of the cocktails from the extensive Tjing Tjing list, a Japanese Kirin beer, or an Aegir Giant IPA – a new craft beer being produced in Noordhoek.

Ambience
Moody blue walls, industrial metal tables and ghost chairs set the scene for a stylish dinner. It can feel a little cold and in-between-y – as young people pass you on the stairs, heading up to the rooftop bar above.

Service
Friendly and helpful. The food comes out as it’s ready – so order your tapas dishes in two waves if you’re worried about things getting cold.

And…
Visit the rooftop bar, Tjing Tjing, upstairs for a nightcap, if you’re not quite ready to go home yet.

(September 2016)

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

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  • Katharine Jacobs

    Situated on the first floor of 165 Longmarket Street in Cape Town, Tjing Tjing Torii feels like a brilliant secret. The restaurant and bar was voted Best Asian Eatery in the Western Cape by Eat Out readers in 2015. Katharine Jacobs went to investigate – and thinks she may just have an inkling why.

    Food
    Named for a traditional Japanese gate usually found at the entrance to a shrine, Torii acts as a gateway to Japanese flavours. The menu is full of fun, delicious teasers, the flavours inspired by owner Ilse Koekemoer and chef Christi Semczyszyn’s love of Japan and Japanese cuisine.

    We start off with one of sharing boards, a fabulously refreshing platter of self-assembly lettuce wraps. It might sound simple, but it’s actually pretty special thanks to an excellent peanut sauce, which pairs beautifully with the pickled ginger and some segments of lemon.

    Then it’s on to a small side of nasu dengaku – cubes of miso-roasted aubergines that are nothing short of transcendent. This, for anyone who’s still not sure about the mysterious fifth taste, is what umami is all about. These are aubergines as you’ve never had them before: meaty, salty, and unctous in the way that roast lamb, still swimming in its flavour-rich fat, or powerful exotic mushrooms, might be.

    From here, we tackle some dishes from the plates portion of the menu: lime-cured fish, prettily plated with chilli aioli; and panko beef tataki, with butter-soft cubes of fillet, crumbed and fried and sprinkled with sweet, crispy fried onions.

    Next comes a special for the night, a plate of fall-off-the-bone pork ribs in five-spice and the sweet, sticky glaze that my heart yearns for. A minute of total silence passes between my dining companion and me as we gnaw on our respective ribs, until he pauses to say “Chat later”, before returning his full attention to his meal. They’re the best ribs I’ve eaten all year.

    For dessert, we try the Japanese cheesecake – a little lighter and eggier than the Western version – and the ice cream and dorayaki. The latter features balls of creamy matcha and stunning black-sesame ice cream, topped with what looks like a macaron. It is, in fact, two little pancakes filled with sweet, earthy red bean paste.

    Drinks
    An excellent, interesting wine list is complemented by something you might not expect at a tapas-style restaurant: a sommelier. Samuel Ross is the perfect man for the job. He’s friendly, relaxed and is good at reading diners, so he adds a fun touch to the experience. Allow Samuel to suggest something you haven’t tried before, or something that’ll pair well with the flavours you’re about to experience. There’s also sherry, straw wine, port and sake.

    Service
    Everyone we encounter is relaxed and friendly, but attentive. Dishes come out of the kitchen as they’re ready, so place your order in stages if you’d prefer to stagger the evening.

    Ambience
    The former White Room space has been transformed: it’s equally beautiful, but perhaps a little more playful now. Moody navy walls, a chandelier and Philippe Starck Ghost chairs contrast with illustrations on the blinds featuring young girls with cats, tattoos, bats, skulls and a miniature dinosaur.

    And…
    This is a fun, contemporary take on Japanese flavours rather than an attempt at an authentic, pure version of ancient dishes. Dishes are easy to love as there’s a clear focus on making things delicious, and the tables surrounding ours are voluble with their compliments to the chef. We have a small feast for under R500, which, considering the quality of the food, is great value for money.

    (December 2015)

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User reviews

  • Where do I begin? This restaurant takes Asian Fusion cuisine to a whole new level of amazing! We came here for my birthday dinner and I was absolutely blown away. Not just by the food, but also by the service. Our wine was topped up when it was low, we weren't interrupted when we were in deep conversation and our food arrived perfectly timed. When they found out it was my birthday, the chef sent up the simply divine cheesecake. The vibe is relaxed, but with an element of sophistication, and the decor matches. I will be going here again, again - there's just too many wonderful things left on the menu to try!
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  • Over all experience was amazing. Firstly we were greeted immediately by a very friendly and charismatic waiter, (and pleasantly surprised to find the still or sparkling water is also complimentary which not many places offer!) The atmosphere and decor was beautiful, very modern and slightly alternative with an asian influence. I especially loved the artworks on their blinds and the coasters, which is by a local artist. The menu is very self explanatory and the waiters are well informed on portion sizes and suggesting how many items to order per person. The food was delectable, with beautiful flavors and good portion sizes, I was especially pleasantly surprised by the tempura mushrooms and beef dogs! (not your average hot dog for sure!). We throughly enjoyed the food and had 4 dishes between the two of us which was more that satisfying, and after our meal we shared probably what I would consider the best cheesecake either of us has ever had the pleasure of eating. The cheesecake called a Japanese Cotton Cheesecake was light and airy with an amazing miso caramel topping with salt flakes, each bite melts in your mouth and the mixture of the delicate cheesecake flavour with the caramel and salt was to die for. I will definitely be back and look forward to trying out more of their delicious menu. Thank you to the staff for an all round delightful dining experience.
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  • Had a very impressive meal here. The Lime-cured fish was definitely a winner! Would highly recommend this restaurant if you're a lover of Asian inspired food. Really awesome! Service was great and our waitress was friendly and attentive. Will definitely be back.
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  • Three of us came for dinner on a surprisingly quiet Saturday night. The room is a bit dark and moody, making you feel slightly exposed, which is perhaps why it wasn't buzzing and full. The service was excellent - extremely professional and warm without being overbearing – and the food was wonderful. So many little tastes and textures and flavours… sweet sauces, crunchy fried morsels, fresh crisp veggies, chewy noodles, umami-rich broth and surprising little sides. Loved the pork buns dripping in tasty sauce, the miso corn (I scooped up the butter with my spoon), the sesame brocolli, the tempura beef, and the sweet endings of sake, lime and ginger sorbet and caramelised cardamom popcorn. Just wonderful! Will tell everyone about it and be back soon.

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  • We also loved the ribs, and the sorbet, which was delicious and refreshing. Some of the other dishes lacked spark for us. The salads we tried were a bit bland - they could perhaps have used a zingy dressing or some fresh herbs - and the aubergine dish didn't have the sauce described above. The atmosphere is nice for a date; it feels very intimate.
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  • I've always been a fan of Tjing Tjing. It's cosy and elegant and since it's a small venue it always feels a bit exclusive. The only problem in the past was the limited menu. Now with the inclusion of Torii (they serve upstairs too!) that problem has been solved. And properly solved. The food - range, quality and presentation - now matches the venue. Dishes to try - the tuna tataki and the pork (or beef - you really can't go wrong) dog. While it's not on the menu you should ask for the ginger/orange sorbet to wrap up the evening. This item alone makes the visit worth while. Hmmmm ;)
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  • Food and setting is excellent. Delicious, innovative Asian tapas complimented with a superb wine selection. Add the super trendy décor, spectacular cocktails and great vibe of tjing-tjing rooftop bar upstairs and this must be one of the best spots in Cape Town for a night on the town.
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  • What a delight. This is why I love living in Cape Town. All in one spot, great food, fantastic people and service (thanks Adam and Rumbi), perfect location and awesome venue. Will be coming back for sure
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  • City shiek! We had a fabulous evening with friends with amazing food. The space is decorated in true fusion style. It is the type of space that you want to revisit and you tell your friends about the next morning. If you get the opportunity to visit, do. You will not be disappointed. The cosy corners allows for initimate conversations, but you do not feel excluded from the overall energy. The roof top bar one flight up by gives the oppertunity for extending an great evening even further.
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  • Most exquisite night at Torii , excellent food and a service to match..definitely going back for more. What a wonderful experience.
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  • I have been to The White Room a few times and loved it. So it was with a bit of trepedation that I went to the venue that replaced it. It was wonderful! The interior design was cleverly done in such a way that every time you look you see something new. I felt comfortable from the start. The fantastic service and a very impressive wine list was in line with previous visits. It was the food however that left the lasting impression. It was so different from The White Room, but it was to dream of! I will never be able to eat a hot dog again without thinking about those. Obviously the new chef is a gem. Everyone in our party agreed we are definately going back and soon. Well done on doing something brave and different!
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  • Loved our evening at Tjing Tjing Torrii! Do yourself a favour and try everything on the menu at least once. Some of the “must-haves” are the Panko Beef Tataki, the Crispy Rice Cubes, the Lime Cured Fish and a lot of the Pork and Beef Aitsui Dogs (order a couple extra of these to avoid a fight at the table!) The Japanese inspired Torrii feels fresh and modern. I wasn’t “transported back in time” surrounded by shutters, bamboo prints on the walls and the sound of trickling water in the background (there’s a time and a place for that I guess.. yawn), but instead I felt like I had stepped off the beaten tourist track, past the sushi bars, down a side road, into a cozy place with great music, really incredible food and friendly staff. I think in this way, the inspirations felt more authentic and less forced down my throat. A last nod must go to the chef of course, the presentation of each dish is impeccable, every dish seems nicely considered but not fussy or pretentious (No sprinkled bits of edible confetti or "drizzled" reduction to be found anywhere, yay!). The portion sizes are great and the combinations of textures and flavours are amazing. Cant wait to come back and do it all over again! Thanks guys!
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  • Amazing space with fantastic decor and ambience. I wanted to try every single thing on the menu and the food that I did taste was absolutely incredible. So much attention to detail. I can't wait to go back!
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  • Loved the asian influence and the food was superb. Very friendly staff, have recommended this to all my friends
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  • Loved our evening at Tjing-Tjing-Torii! It is simply a beautiful space, great food, friendly service and the best wine list I have ever seen. Really enjoyed the idea of small plates... we must have tried the entire menu and everything was excellent. My absolute favourites were the Tuna Tataki, sticky pork bao and the pork Atsui dogs. Don't leave without trying the crispy rice cubes and we had a super light cheesecake desert! I can highly recommend this as an awesome spot in the city, reasonably priced, interesting & delicious tapas choices, paired with the best wine ever! Cannot wait to go back!
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  • When in Cape Town, we are regular visitors to Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar, Dear Me and previously the White Room at Dear Me. With no surprise, I visited again. The White Room blew me away, so it was with great anticipation that I visited the newly opened Tjing Rjing Torii. WOW! Everything exceeded my expectations! The ambience, décor and service is top-class. With a more casual approach than The White Room, the biggest test for me would be the quality of the food. Prices being so reasonable, we ordered most of the menu for the table to share. Some of the dishes were: Miso glazed roast eggplant, Crispy Rice Cubes, Lime Cured Fish, Ochazuke, Tuna Tataki, Panko Beef Tataki, an old favorite Sticky Pork Belly Skewers, Pork and Beef Aitsui "Dogs" and Karaage Chicken. Within minutes the whole table was arguing on which of the great variety was the best dish, with consensus reached that everything is superb with everyone settling on their personal favorite! A fantastic, world class wine list to choose from, contributed to an exceptional dinner. To round off an unforgettable evening we were served homemade creamy matcha ice cream, toasted black sesame ice cream and the best ginger sorbet ever! Thank You Tjing Tjing Torii for a memorable fine dining experience "with a refreshing difference". See you again soon!
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  • Hottest new spot in Cape Town. I would suggest you grab a couple of friends and order a bunch of different dishes (I would recommend a couple of dogs, the crispy rice cubes, pork belly skewers and lime cured fish), paired with exceptional wine, beer, or a vast array of whiskey to choose from (do try a Ron Zacapa Barrel Aged Old Fashioned. Oh my gosh, it will change your life). With the best playlist in Cape Town playing the lastest, crazy good music, Tjing Tjing Tori is the perfect place to become a regular.
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  • Just what the inner city needed: A decent restaurant with an exceptional wine list. We are in Cape Town yet so many wine lists are uninspired and/or ridiculously priced. TjingTjing Torii offers a wide choice over every price range and caters to the novice wine drinker right up to the biggest wine connoisseur. The food surpasses expectation every time - proper small plates at affordable prices. Service is knowledgable and friendly without being intrusive. It's a special place.
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  • Had about 6 dishes there tonight, excluding dessert. The menu at Torii is Asian-inspired, every dish carefully crafted with the perfect flavour combination. My favourites, in particular, are the Pork Atsui Dog (topped with ginger, kimchi, kewpie mayo & nori), the Tempura fried Oysters (so fresh and sweet, with a crispy batter) and of course, the Creamy Matcha ice cream, toasted black sesame ice cream with ref bean paste dorayaki. Great vibe at the bar on the rooftop, Torii's great for a good night out.
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  • Brat that I am, I did have one of each thing on the menu (except for the oysters and tofu) and therefore I can say that the entire menu is mouth tingling, saliva provokingly fantastic! When I say it was the best darn mini hotdogs that I have ever had, I am not sugar coating it! Short on it's heels was the sticky pork bao! The night came together with amazing wine and a venue that made me feel like I was dining in another country....
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  • My favourite place to dine in the Cape Town CBD. Excellent innovative food with great flavour combinations, lovely decor (those Asian blinds are worth the visit alone) and a wine list second to none. Totally addicted to the Karaage chicken and pork bao. And I love washing it down with one of the Cape Winemakers Guild wines that they sell at absurdly low prices.
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  • This is what food is about - top quality ingredients, put together in clever and delicious ways. While quite Eastern in style, all the dishes are wholesome and uncomplicated. The tapas portions also let you try almost everything on the menu. The best part of Torii is the winelist however. Where else in the world can you drink Jamet, Spioenkop, Thorne and Daughters, Grand Puy Lacoste and more all in one seating? All at very reasonable prices too...
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  • I simply loved Tjing Tjing Torri, from the moment that we walked up the beautiful staircase to the moment we walked back to our car after a satisfied dinner. The decor created an appealing, inviting ambiance and I felt right at home while ordering a glass of wine from their unique wine list. The non traditional food menu is a two pager that entice you with dishes such as Crispy Rice Cubes (deep fried sushi rice squares with hot buttered soy… yum!) and I loved the the Sticky Pork Pao (a soft steamed bun with sticky pork belly and pickled cucumber and sesame… beautiful!). Don’t expect a menu with starters, mains and deserts. I think the best way to explore this fused style Japanese menu is to orders several dishes and enjoy all the flavours. We will be back!!
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  • Torii rocks!! Asian tappas such a cool idea and something new and existing. The location is great and the ambiance is relaxed but sophisticated in a hipster kind of way. The wine list is well planned and offers great value at each price point. A good selection of wines by the glass too if you feel like pairing your tappas. Serice is great and Sam adds a lot of colour to the wine list. The jappadogs are the bomb - my favourite with a generous glass of chenin!
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  • Went last week and we were blown away by the food. Love the idea of Japanese tapas, I always love to order more than one plate, to taste different flavors. The chef of Tjing Tjing Torii did an outstanding job here. Delicious and pretty creations to reasonable prices. The sticky pork belly in the steamed bun is to die for, also the pork hot dog is a must!!!! And the service was top notch, and we couldn't have been more pleased. Definitely recommend this restaurant to every traveler or person living in or around Cape Town.... We will be back!
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  • Went last week and we are blown away by the food. Love the idea of Japanese tapas, I always love to order more than one plate, to taste different flavors. The chef of Tjing Tjing Torii did an outstanding job here. Delicious and pretty creations to reasonable prices. The sticky pork belly in the steamed bun is to die for, also the pork hot dog is a must!!!! And the service was top notch, and we couldn't have been more pleased. Definitely recommend this restaurant to every traveler or person living in or around Cape Town.... We will be back!
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  • Delicious tapas menu! We tried a few of the tapas options and everything was divine! Couldnt get enough of the cripsy rice squares
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  • Absolutely fantastic! I ate at Torrii several times over the last couple of weeks and absolutely loved it, especially the ever changing wine list and Sam the Sommelier. This must be one of the most dynamic and interesting wine lists in Cape Town, intelligently put together and not relaying on size. Here you can drink some of the hottest new South African and international wines at reasonable prices.
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  • What a great meal! I only come into Cape Town once a month, so when I do I like to live it up a little. Our party started the night upstairs with a few tasty cocktails and later we went downstairs for the main event. I had a feeling it would be good just from the atmosphere but boy where we mistaken! Tjing Tjing Torii served up the best meal I have had in ages, personal favourites for me were the bao, the pan fried fish in sushi rice and the chicken with aoli. Without a doubt I will be back for more. The katsui dogs were out of stock unfortunately so I guess thats a good enough reason to go back!
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  • Absolutely delicious tapas! Our table worked our way through the menu, and we were delighted with all of the dishes - all very fresh, flavourful and beautifully presented. Firm favourites were the tuna tataki, sticky pork bao, and ochazuke. A perfect spot for date night or a memorable night out with friends. A great selection of wines completes the experience.
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  • Incredible Asian tapas very reasonably priced, a must try is the Sticky Pork Bao and the Tuna Tataki. Fantastic selection of wines and great service. Pre drinks upstairs is a great idea
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  • Best place to enjoy superb wines by the glass and authentic Asian tapas. Everything is put together with passion and flair. Exceptional staff and awesome vibe definitely one of my favourite bars in the CBD. Can't wait to try Tjing Tjing Torii
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  • Beautiful interpretation of asian cuisine, great wine selection, excellent service. The rooftop bar for pre drinks is also amazing.
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  • Recently had dinner in the new Tjing Tjing Torrii restaurant. The new decor is interestingand funky (well done)! I loved the sticky pork bao (best I have ever had). The Atsui dogs were very tasty. I also loved the Japanese cheesecake with salty caramel topping (absolutely fabulous). Definitely a place worth visiting!
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  • Incredible food and space. Truly one of Cape Town's hidden secrets. If you're looking for an authentic take on Japense cuisine, Tjing Tjing Torii is the one.
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  • LOVE Torii Room
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  • Enjoyed it very much! Food excellend!
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  • Exceeded expectations. (And that's not only because there wasn't a hiptser in sight!) The menu is great - simple, yet elegant. Conceptualized by someone who is obviously a master at their craft. And with a tapas style eating vibe you can taste a little bit of everything, so bring lots of friends! Bonus for me was having too many vegetarian options to choose from. Will be back for more!
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  • Loved eating here with my friends! The food blew my mind, the pork belly was a winner! Also their cocktails are probably the best in town! Hats off to the chef!
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  • Popped into the newly revamped Tjing Tjing Torii for a friends birthday on Friday. The place looks amazing with beautiful royal blue freshly painted walls, giving the place a really interesting look and feel. We had a selection of the tapas to nibble on and I must say that everything was really delicious. I will definitely be back!
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Child friendly
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • WiFi

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