I don’t remember ever eating at a restaurant on their first day, but there’s a first for everything. I thought the new Chefs Warehouse had opened a few weeks ago, but it turns out that Monday, the day of my visit, was it.
Owner Liam Tomlin (who judged with me for the 2013 Eat Out Dstv Food Network Restaurant Awards) and his wife, Jan, looked very at ease and proud of their new place. Situated on Bree Street where Caveau used to be, it’s packed with character and style.
The inside tables, made from recycled pine from packing boxes, are surrounded by shelves groaning with local and international food products (many of which are from France). As I was chatting to Liam, I eyed from across the room boxes of crystallised pink rose and violet petals – my favourite!
The cookbook range is fabulous and inspiring as it always was in his previous shop in Church Street, but how amazing it is to have the new shop and restaurant just a stone’s throw away from my office, right in the middle of the buzz of Bree.
The coldroom with a glass door boasts Weck jars full of pates and confits to take home or give away as perfect presents. The shop itself stocks a great range of cookware and bakeware, including a set of Bodum Pavina double-walled coffee cups in which Liam serves his coffee. The kitchen is open-plan, with a small table for intimate cooking dems.
Downstairs at street level is the cutest addition, where there will be a take-away vibe with coffee, pastries and Asian lunches to go. My colleague and I shared a jar of potted prawns and a fresh salad tossed with crispy onions; a salmon and beetroot gravalax, which was simple, beautifully plated, fresh and tasty; and a plate of piping hot oozing mushroom and parmesan arancini.
The menu, clipped onto a folded sushi mat, changes daily, so I can’t wait to go back! I was so excited and inspired by the moment that I forgot to look at the wine list, but I’m sure it won the approval of Neil Grant, owner of Burrata (reigning Best Italian Restaurant in the country). He ended up ordering a local alcoholic drink called Dragon Brewery Fiery Ginger Beer, which gave me order envy, so I’ll have to try one or two next time.
I wish Liam, Jan and the team all the best, and a big welcome to Bree. It’s just what we needed!