I started with a liquid lunch.
Nothing quite like a dusty, peppery Glen Albyn from the Highlands at the Bascule to kick-start your day. It’s described on the bar’s impressive 22 page whisky menu as, ‘quite a big whisky’. But their walk in wine cellars with hundreds of coveted dusty bottles is glam vintage invitation enough. There are no foreign labels on the wine list, testament to, brays their staff, ‘our eagerness to promote SA wines’.
The Cape Grace Hotel’s Bascule Bar is like stepping into the galley with the fresh ocean spray just outside. It’s here they play gentle hip-jiving Cuban music and Salif Keita.
Scrumptious snacks on the bar menu include brie and fig croissants, a puff pastry cone filled with caramelised poached pear and almond compôte.
Order champers by the glass, how about the biscuit and marmalade aromas of the heavenly Montaudon Brut, or the delicate rich citrus aromas with ripe melon of the bountiful Dalla Cia Chardonnay (2006).
If you ask the affable barman, Christopher ‘for something special’ be warned he’ll present from their whisky library archives, a 50-year-old Glendfiddich which goes for a mere R15 200 a tot! Only 500 bottles were made and Bascule has bottle number 362.
Saunter upstairs to their fab restaurant onewaterfront, (the restaurant is now called Signal) which has numerous industry accolades – sure to please the discerning palate.
Walk across the West Quay watching the yachts with icky names like ‘Foreplay – Durban’ and the downright cheesy, ‘Sundance’. Rather jump onto a sleek white Agatha Christie speed cruiser or you could just step into the Ice Lounge.
This new novelty bar at the Waterfront is where you shoot Stolly’s in chilly temperatures of minus 10 degrees. Dressed in a fleecy powder blue poncho, listening to Tom Jones, I swanned in, clocked a Madiba ice man sculpture and very quickly swanned out. I was being a tropical banana head – my toes went blue – I was wearing slops!
Inside it’s all ice-curtains with 60 ton’s of ice shipped in from Canada. R50 for adults and R35 for children with a small ice slide and an Ice Age cartoon installation.
The bar opens at 6pm until 2am and the lounge is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am – 5pm, re-opening from 6pm – 2am. Open on Monday evenings only.
On the V&A Waterfront Pierhead, is the Belgian Den Anker Restaurant & Bar which in my mind is the place in Cape Town to listen to Frank Sinatra, sip Flemish coffees and watch the seals.
Their specialties are the fillet béarnaise, the moulles marinières (but the mussels are not from Brussels, they’re from Langebaan) and the Foie Gras.
At Den Anker you can eat indoors or enjoy the sunny summery outdoors and a full frontal view of our blessed Table Mountain.
Pause to take in the mime artist’s wearing sprayed silver white lace dresses or the six-piece isicathamiya Thokozani Brothers from Khayelitsha who gently foot shuffle and sing al-la-Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Saturdays between 10am and 4pm.
The amphitheatre and market square is always a musical buzz with local school plays and live muso’s playing thrashing white rock, sometimes traditional Madosini-style or the Cape Goema Captains with the great Mac McKenzie.
Waltz further along the Waterfront’s Restaurant Row. Skip the ubiquitous Italian and Greek restaurants, the boring steak houses, and the squabbling mobs arguing at the ice-cream parlours as you’re heading purposefully and with good calm reason toward Societi Bistro. (Now moved to Gardens.)
Voted one of Eat Out’s Fab Fifteen People’s Choice restaurants and Top 100 Restaurant in SA by Wine magazine and Diners (2006), this stylish and intimate restaurant is a girl’s glam night out where after an art movie at Cinema Nouveau you can savour a dreamy glass of Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, the 2004 vintage of course, with a slice of lemon tart and crème fraiche.
Salads are adventurous with the gorgonzola and roasted pear and the Societi venison Chateubriand, medium rare, flambéed with Cognac-béarnaise, wild mushroom sauce, frites and wilted spinach.
Or how about tucking into a T-bone the size of your face! It’s served with anchovy butter, wilted spinach and frites. For little people they serve fish goujons (mayo and frites).
But asides from the Hamilton Russel, the Kanonkop Pinotage (1998) at R1425 and the Graham Beck, the wine list on the whole is not that overly discerning.
Never fear as directly upstairs you’re about to ascend to a wine-lover’s paradise – Baia Seafood Restaurant with its panoramic harbour views. It’s where the charismatic Carlos, whistling-happy in pink pin-striped shirt will take you through their adventurous ten page wine list.
From the makers of premium quality wines, there is the full bodied and scented Tête De Cuvée Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir with exciting whiffs of raspberries and truffles that has languished lazily for fifteen months in French Oak barrels or the oak-enhanced, roast-nut character of the Rupert & Rothschild Nadine Chardonnay.
They even have a 1979 Warre’s Quintada Cavadinha vintage port and Aquardente Ferreira Vinica Velha (Carvalho Ribeiro & Ferreira) brandy!
Do take your Platinum credit card.
Oh yes and the seafood at Baia is divine. Crayfish gazpacho, Mozambican curry, Bouillabaisse with shellfish, select prawns, lango’s, mussels, calamari and a variety of fresh line fish prepared the traditional French way.
You can’t but salivate over the idea of ordering their fresh line fish baked in a parchment paper parcel with extra virgin olive oil and seared langoustines.
Sushi downstairs at Willoughby & Co. now in their 10th year, is renowned for their fresh melt in your mouth sushi. Their West Coast mussels on display are also a fab summery take-away option for Clifton sunset glamour with a damn good Chenin Blanc.
You’re equally spoilt for choice with fresh fish – kabeljou from Arniston, East Coast sole, Red Roman, fresh tuna loins or fresh rainbow trout. If the fishing has been good that week only then can you expect their fresh Rock Cod, Red Stump nose and delicious Mussel Cracker.
Then there’s high tea at the nearby Table Bay Hotel with an array of scrumptious and decadents treats whether coconut pineapple Pina Colada pudding or the pecan brandy tart and fresh cream.
You may bump into an ex-Miss SA preening herself on their deck, or wonder if anyone speaks Xhosa or English amidst the cacophony of Italian, German and Swiss.
For take-away wine you have to visit the Duchess of Cork at Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar.
These are the specialists in South African wine; and this is where you have impeccably informed and discerning staff on hand who know their Bouchard Finlayson from their L’avenir Pinotage (2004).
These are the wine folk who know which boutique wines, which vintage, which case, to select. If you really want to be in the know, join Caroline’s Quarterly Wine Club and just sit back and have your fine wine selections delivered to your door.
You can receive a different case of wine every 3 months! You’ll also enjoy 10% discount on further case-lot orders. Their range of South African wines is outstanding and their specials chalk-board will keep you up-to-date on what’s hot!
Vivre Le Waterfront. Now pour me another glass of some of that yummy Bouchard’s Tête de Cuvèe won’t you!