Liam Tomlin of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen on Bree Street has had a busy time of it, opening both Thali (Park Road, Gardens) and the new Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia within two days of each other.
This Chefs Warehouse follows the same philosophy as its Bree Street sibling, served with an impressive side of Constantia views. The kitchen is headed up by Ivor Jones, previous head chef at The Test Kitchen. Eat Out critic Amy Ebedes went for a first taste at sunset.
Serves: A set menu of tapas for two
Best for: An extra-special date night or entertaining out-of-towners
Cost: R620 for tapas for two (eight dishes), excluding dessert (R75)
Parking: Accessible parking at Beau Constantia
Star rating: Food 5, service 4, ambience 5
There’s a reason Chefs Warehouse on Bree Street is a nominee for the 2016 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. The food is as fresh as it gets, with a serious punch of flavour and special attention to plating. Dinner is a set menu of tapas for two (R620), with the option of adding oysters (R95) or bread (R45) to your meal. The eight plates are served over three courses. Settle in and prepare to feast: This is a gastronomic experience that you won’t want to end.
We start with melt-in-the-mouth yellowtail escabeche served with pickled vegetables. Hints of spice are balanced with beautiful lime labneh. It sets a high bar for the remainder of the meal. Tuna sashimi is next, served with black-bean salsa and coconut-and-apple dressing. The flavours are subtle and fresh. The final dish of the first course is coal-seared beef tataki – and it is sublime. A cashew-nut dukkha adds a delicate crunch to the incredibly tender beef, while umami flavours of fresh mushrooms, aubergine and parmesan purée complete this perfect dish.
The second round begins with the summer-pea risotto with mint oil, lime and parmesan. It’s amazingly fresh and earthy: I feel as if I’m eating peas straight off the plant. We finish our second course with the cauliflower-and-onion soubise. It’s like cauliflower and cheese sauce for adults: The sauce is silky, creamy and rich, with hints of salty sweetness from capers and raisins.
The Moroccan lamb rib is my least favourite dish of the evening – there has to be one! Individually, the elements are all delicious – particularly the homemade ricotta – but I find myself wanting something to balance the richness of the dish. The next dish, blesbok, is undoubtedly my favourite. The meat is creamy and succulent without being too gamey. The subtle, earthy flavours have the perfect hint of sweetness from the port jus. The major downside is that I have to share it.
We end the meal with pork fillet and crispy coppa. It’s the perfect ending, with a sweet, smoky flavour that lingers long after the plates have been cleared.
We’re on a roll, so we order two desserts. The chocolate pot is tasty, albeit a touch dry, and comes served with a zesty orange ice cream. The second dessert, however, is a showstopper: Wild honey and lavender crème served with honeycomb and smoked cassia-bark ice cream. Imagine, if you will, a floral crème brûlée with honeycomb instead of hard caramel. It is inspired; a dessert I won’t soon forget.
A limited number of Beau Constantia wines are available by the glass (varying from R35 to R79) with a small selection of wines from other farms available by the bottle.
The service is attentive and quick, although a little nervous. The waiter is reasonably knowledgeable about the dishes and wines, but not able to answer all our questions fully. It is, however, the first week of opening, and I suspect he’ll find his stride quickly.
Quite simply: magnificent. It’s minimalist and simple, with clean lines, wooden finishes and large glass windows. Nothing detracts from the highlight of the décor: the view. Ensure you get an early seating for uninterruputed views across False Bay to the Hottentots-Holland mountains. You’ll want to watch those mountains turn purple at sunset.
This branch of Chefs Warehouse takes bookings, which will definitely be a requirement.
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