London boasts a dedicated porridge café and a restaurant serving only breakfast cereal (called, unsurprisingly, Cereal Killer Café); and New Yorkers can indulge at S’Mac, a macaroni cheese joint, or Potatopia, which serves dishes made with the humble spud. In recent months, the trend towards extremely specialised restaurants seems to have come to our own shores, especially in Cape Town’s city bowl. Here are five single-dish restaurants to try right now.
Richard Bosman is a household name when it comes to cured meat, and it stands to reason that his bacon is some of the best in the Mother City. Hailing from pasture-reared pigs on a farm in Piketburg, the bacon at Bacon on Bree is expertly cured, full of flavour and a far cry from the watery bacon you’ll find in supermarkets. Order a Smokey Joe with bacon, beautifully melty cheddar and a sprinkling of smoked paprika, or a thoroughly indulgent croissant, stacked with bacon and rich macadamia honey butter. Orders are served on custom pig-shaped wooden boards, and we’ve been promised bacon-infused vodka and whisky (once the liquor licence comes through).
The South African cheese industry has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years, not in small part due to British cheesemaker and affineur (a cheese ager and purveyor) Luke Williams. After moving to South Africa with his wife, Jessica Merton, Luke spent time consulting and helping over 40 local cheesemakers develop their craft. Last month, the couple opened up this dedicated cheese bar and café on Bree Street (situated conveniently next door to Bacon on Bree). Here you’ll find a changing menu of cheesy treats, including some signature cheese toasties with interesting toppings like walnuts, caramelised onions and apple butter, cheese platters and gooey raclette. The fridges display a thoroughly impressive range of local and international preservative- and additive-free cheeses, made with milk from free-range animals.
If the only ‘ramen’ you’ve ever tried are two-minute noodles, you’re in for a treat. Steaming black bowls of fragrant broth and noodles are full of toothsome titbits from juicy pieces of slow-cooked pork to bean sprouts, veggies and soft-boiled eggs. Right now they’re serving a light shōyu (traditional Japanese soy) broth with char siu pork belly, and a thicker, sweeter kimiko broth with tofu, bok choy, spring onion, egg and chilli. It’s run by the same people as Lefty’s Dive Bar downstairs, and like its sibling, it’s a relaxed affair – as befits the necessary noodle-slurping. They don’t take bookings, which means potentially queuing with a group of hungry hopefuls on the stairs, but food comes out smartly, so you won’t have to wait for long. A range of steamed bao (buns) also makes an appearance; choose from pork belly with citrus pickle, beer-braised beef short-rib, and smoked aubergine and teriyaki tofu.
Anthony Gird and Michael De Klerk opened their first store in Wale Street after Ant started making raw truffles in 2009. Then came a second store at Woodstock Exchange; next, a crowd-funding project, and finally the boys were able to convert their Wale Street branch into a fully-fledged chocolate-themed dessert café. The pair’s raw chocolate remains the basis of the menu, transformed into some gloriously inventive dishes. The banana bread bunny chow – filled with macadamia chocolate spread and vanilla ice cream – has become a house favourite, and there’s now even a version sans wheat. There’s also chocolate guacamole with nacho chips, which might sound a little odd, but hits the spot with a few pinches of chilli flakes. Chocolate ice cream is gloriously chocolatey and creamy – and even the vegan version is delicious.
Taking inspiration from the Canadian franchise, Hey Meatball, Dave and his ‘meatball mob’ serve up a range of 10 different balls, with your choice of sauce and sides. For the adventurous, Dave recommends the warthog meatballs with a ‘bobtom’ sauce (a mix of barbecue and tomato) and for the slightly more traditional, lamb meatballs with a rosemary and tomato sauce. His personal favourite is the eland meatball with a creamy basil sauce. Vegetarians are taken care of with several veggie ball options: corn and cheese, butternut and beetroot, or chickpea and coriander. In the way of sides, diners have a choice of a rocket salad, roasted veggies, truffle fries, sweet potato wedges or sweet potato mash. There’s even a range of meatball burgers, pizzas, bunny chows and wraps. Get your meatball fix at the city bowl branch on Roeland Street, or in Hout Bay at the Yo Meatball stand at the Bay Harbour Market. The team has just completed work on a meatball food truck, which will cater at functions and festivals. (They’ve already got their first booking, a wedding). Dave reveals there will be Yo Meatball branches opening in Woodstock and Sea Point very soon.