2014 Best Everyday Eatery: Chefs Warehouse & Canteen

The ‘Best’ section of the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards recognises eateries that are at the absolute top of their game, but don’t fit into the fine dining category of the Top 10. One of these winners is Chefs Warehouse & Canteen, on Bree Street in Cape Town, which scooped our title of Best Everyday Eatery for 2014.

The judge for these awards, Caro de Waal, says, “This is such an amazing offering. Chef Liam Tomlin is extremely innovative and is comfortable cooking more than one style of food. His flavours are bold, fresh, fun and interesting. The pricing is exceptional for the level of quality. They go the extra mile here, not in a fussy way, but with a bustling, well-informed, casual style.”

Liam Tomlin told us, “We are all very pleased to get such recognition after such a short period of time. We don’t take it lightly and will work hard to keep up the standard and live up to that recognition.”

Want to know more about what you’ll be getting on your plate? Here are the details of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen.


Deli options on the ever-changing lunch menu include dishes of pork or duck rillettes, potted shrimp or crab, and chicken liver parfait with grape chutney, but the real drawcard here is tapas for two at R350.

Mushrooms and cheesy polenta at Chefs Warehouse & Canteen. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Mushrooms and cheesy polenta at Chefs Warehouse & Canteen

The eight tapas dishes flow over their large wooden tray in a parade of mini copper pots, steaming baskets and slate plates. You won’t quite believe this generosity and flavour. Dishes may include crispy calamari tentacles served on a fresh Asian salad with chilli for a lovely hit of heat; butternut or dark, glossy squid-ink risotto; slow-braised beef short-rib with crispy fat and tender layers beneath; and tender tuna slivers with swirls of sauces and fresh shoots. For dessert, the lemon posset is an utter delight: the ultra-creamy, vanilla-studded pudding is topped with fresh berries and lemon zest, and a warm raspberry syrup is drizzled over at the table. You’ll probably also scoop every last crumb of the excellent chocolate fondant – gleamingly gooey inside and crisp outside – out of a darling mini copper pot.


Deluxe coffee comes in cool clear-glass cups, with the menu also offering an affogato option (a scoop of ice cream topped with espresso). Unusual alcohol options include Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer, Liefmans Fruitesse, CBC Amber Weiss, Dalla Cia Premium Grappa and Sir George Brandy (from Napier Winery). There’s a good wine selection of special bottles for the discerning and a dozen easy-drinking wines are available by the glass.


Service is quick and no-fuss.


On summer days and evenings, grab a seat outside. The simple wooden counters and high stools are sturdy and comfortable. Menus are printed on rice paper clipped onto sushi rolling mats, lending a minimalist Asian vibe to it all. The interior is split into two main rooms: a dark, cool dining area lined with shelves of exotic cooking ingredients – rose water, oils, salt, coconut milks and obscure sauces – and a room of kitchenware on the other side with neat arrangements of top-quality knives and heavy saucepans. The dining room with its narrow tables can be a tight squeeze when it’s busy, but it’s perfectly in keeping with the bustling vibe of the city bowl.

White chocolate mousse with Christmas pudding at Chefs Warehouse & Canteen. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

White chocolate mousse with Christmas pudding at Chefs Warehouse & Canteen


One wall is dedicated to rows of highly desirable food bibles. Bring your credit cards, folks – or be good and hope for a gift-card come Christmas.

Click here to write your own review of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen. 

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