Cape Town’s best fine-dining restaurants

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If heading to your local pizza joint just isn’t cutting it, these Mother City fine-dining gems will satiate your need for indulgence. With multiple-course tasting menus and wine pairings for that extra bit of culinary dazzle, here are our critics’ picks for fancy food as chosen for the 2018 edition of the Eat Out Magazine.

Aubergine Restaurant (Gardens)

German-born Harald Bresselschmidt uses local ingredients, sustainable fish and game meats in his gastronomic fare. Expect dishes like trout with baby cos lettuce and avocado, linefish medallion with stinging nettle sauce, lamb neck with braised garlic and water lilies, and a dessert of coconut and gooseberries with matcha syrup.

Azure Restaurant (Camps Bay)

This fine-dining restaurant offers a diverse menu with themed tasting menus (including vegan and vegetarian). Smoked hake is reinvented with the addition of a 75°C hen’s egg with roast fish velouté. The slow-cooked lamb shoulder with lamb shank tortellini and the springbok loin with venison osso buco are the perfect meat-lover’s mains. End the meal with a coffee ice-cream sandwich.

Buitenverwachting Restaurant (Constantia) – closed for winter break

This landmark wine farm restaurant rests on the reputation of Edgar Osojnik, the Austrian chef at the helm. Menus change frequently to showcase seasonal produce and South African meats, venison and fish. While the Buitenverwachting team is currently on their annual winter break, previous dishes have included shallot soup with madumbi crema and truffle, quail confit with saltimbocca, pan-fried cutlet and grilled loin of springbok with walnut chutney, and variations of chocolate for dessert.

Catharina’s (Tokai)

There’s nothing tricky about the cuisine at this picturesque wine farm restaurant – just great food packed with flavour. For lunch, current dishes include Cape Malay fish croquettes to start, followed by sous vide pork belly with broccolini and star anise. Come dinnertime, guests can indulge in dishes such as hand-chopped beef tartare with truffle remoulade followed by seafood vol au vent with grilled prawns, and linefish with a saffron-and-chardonnay velouté. End on the chef’s selection of cheese or a Bahibé-and-caramel crémeux with red velvet crumbs.

Chef’s Table at Belmond Mount Nelson (Gardens)

Delve into a seasonal menu that changes daily according to ingredients available. Past dishes include cold-smoked yellowtail with crispy monk fish cheeks, duck terrine with pickled cherries, and BBQ beef neck with a slow-cooked egg and garlic crumbs. Arrive early and head to the Planet Bar before dinner for a great cocktail.

The Conservatory (Constantia)

A compact menu and a beautiful setting tick all the boxes at this Constantia restaurant. Start on the aged Boland cheese soufflé with a cheese-and-gin sauce before moving onto hearty yet refined mains like wild herb-crusted venison loin or pan-fried Cape linefish with braised fennel risotto and charred leek. Desserts will please, with options like the Liz McGrath chocolate plate, local cheeses or a crème brûlée in flavours of cinnamon and citrus.

De Grendel Restaurant (Panorama)

Look forward to delicate flourishes on every plate thanks to the keen eye of head chef Ian Bergh. There’s true authenticity in technique and ingredients at this northern suburb favourite. The set menu – which comes with the option of a wine pairing – begins with a bread service with biltong, leek and gruyere rolls and jersey butter. You’ll then move on to Namibian oysters, char siu pork belly with kimchi and pear, smoked springbok loin with polenta and black garlic, and a Valrhona coconut brownie with mango sherbet.

Greenhouse (Constantia) – 2017 Top 10

Chef Peter Tempelhoff continues to quietly and elegantly produce pitch-perfect plates. The tasting menu features seasonal dishes like steamed blue prawns with game fish, kelp and seaweeds; ostrich tartare with salt-baked celeriac and truffled quail’s egg; chokka ‘noodles’ with salsify and sour figs; and braaied coffee carrots with lacquered onion, mushroom and sweetbreads. The experience ends on a sweet note of white chocolate pap with raspberry and pistachios, and is followed by chocolate tapas.

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Homespun (Table View)

Expect rustic fine dining with a fusion twist at this Table View favourite. Dishes could include deep fried goat’s cheese with beetroot purée and balsamic ice cream, butter-poached salmon with prawn dumplings and burnt garlic consommé, and Valrhona chocolate torte with black cherry compote.

La Colombe (Constantia) – 2017 Top 10

Chefs James Gaag and Scot Kirton and the La Colombe team have recently relaunched the Constantia restaurant with a beautiful new look. The new menu still features some iconic dishes, but there are also new items like the Wagyu and chipotle glazed sweetbreads dish with sweetcorn, buttermilk and coriander; and ‘flavours of the veggie garden’, a mini woodland landscape dotted with roasted geranium macarons, lemon-thyme beehive-shaped marshmallows, and mint-and-cocoa candy floss inspired by After Eight chocolates.

The fresh new interior at La Colombe. Photo by Andrea van der Spuy.

La Mouette (Sea Point) – 2017 nominee for the Top 10

Settle in at a table in the courtyard or beside the toasty fireplace and opt for the five-course set menu. Kick off with the likes of truffle-and-cheese croquettes (chef Henry Vigar’s speciality) and mushroom gyoza followed by garden pea soup, cured pork belly with Jerusalem artichokes and smoked brisket risotto. Dessert ends things on a high with dishes like lemon meringue with mascarpone, lemon leaf snow and wood sorrel.

The Test Kitchen (Woodstock) – 2017 Top 10

Dining here should be intimidating but it feels like the easiest thing in the world, and that’s what makes The Test Kitchen the best in the country and number 50 in the world. The Dark Room offers a culinary journey to Scotland, Korea, Japan, Mauritius then back to SA with dishes like the famed Billionaire’s shortbread, ssamjang vegetables, coconut langoustine and blesbok tartare. From there you’re taken through to the sophisticated Light Room for some more culinary magic. Here you can expect to delight in dishes like smoked scallop sashimi with mushroom ponzu; beef tartare with red onion dressing, celery pesto and Yorkshire tuiles; market fish with black forest ham and fish bone extraction; springbok with beetroot and bone marrow; and a TTK banana split.

The Test Kitchen - Billionaire shortbread

Billionaire’s shortbread at The Test Kitchen. Photo supplied.

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