Marrow, a brand-new broth bar opened by the people responsible for Honest Chocolate and The Gin Bar on Wale Street in Cape Town, was inspired by the trend for similar eateries in New York, London and Sydney. But is the Mother City ready for it? Linda Scarborough takes the menu for a test slurp.
The quirky door covering printed with a wishbone will help you find this small hole in the wall on Loop Street, which is a calm oasis filled with rich aromas emanating from the bubbling pots of nourishing liquid on offer.
Cost: R65 for a bowl of broth and toppings
Serves: Steaming broth
Best for: A quick and healthy lunch
Star rating: Food and drinks 5, service 4, ambience 4
Choose your broth – clear, white, green or brown – and then decide if you’d like it in a cup (R30) or with toppings in a bowl (R65).
The brown broth sounds the heaviest, made as it is with free-range bone broth, red wine, gochujang and harissa, but it’s surprisingly light and delicate and a very attractive colour in its tall pouring glass. If you order a bowl, you will get neat slices of perfectly cooked venison (still tender ruby red in the centre), lentils, ribbons of courgette and cubes of apricot. Add your broth as you wish and tuck in with a pair of chopsticks and little porcelain spoon.
The green option is based on dashi with the addition of parsley and kombu, so it delivers a fresh and savoury flavour, with the additions of steamed angelfish, broccoli, leeks and some orange to lift it all.
If you’re vegan, the white broth is bound to satisfy, and might even be the most delicious of the three I tried. Made with coconut milk, vegetable broth, lemongrass and miso, it comes with roasted aubergine for a sweet earthiness, tofu, turnip strips and some bright basil oil.
Next time I’ll go back to try the fourth and final option of clear bone broth, made with soy, miso and sesame oil, with the option to have it in a bowl with roasted chicken, chorizo, spring onion and julienne carrot.
Marrow’s bowls are wholesome and healthy and should satisfy, but if you have a particularly large appetite you can bulk up your portion by ordering sticky rice balls, soft-boiled eggs or chorizo.
A generous touch is the cube of kombucha Turkish delight served on your tray to enjoy after the meal. It melts in the mouth, and puts the rubbery store-bought versions you may have tasted to shame.
It’s great to have some tasty and unusual options instead of the usual fizzy-sugary soft drinks. You can order a plum shrub (made with a base of apple-cider vinegar), which is tangy and aromatic, lemon-honey tonic water, or aceso fire tonic, all of which you are invited to top up with a swing-top bottle of sparkling water.
Guests order and pay at the counter before finding a spot to sit to await their broth. Staff are efficient and friendly. The process feels simple and effortless.
Marrow is small and sparsely designed, with gorgeous jade-coloured wall tiles and light wooden counters along the two side walls. 10 little stools will accommodate those who wish to sit down. The presentation of the dishes and drinks is simply beautiful, with glossy crockery and refined glassware.
Is the city ready for it? Judging by the crowd on day one, Capetonians were born ready.
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