If you struggle to make a decision when ordering something at a restaurant, Chefs in Cape Town’s Gardens is for you. There are only three options every day: a meat, fish or vegetarian dish. The restaurant is a collaboration between Justin Letschert (creator of skincare brand Bio-Oil), his wife, Georgia Black (of Little Gig), and Adam Whiteman (of The Power and The Glory and Hallelujah) with passionate young chef Jenny Ward in the kitchen, who worked previously at Bistrot Bizerca. Eat Out critic Lynda Ingham-Brown pays Chefs a visit.
Price: Prices range from R145 for the vegetarian option and R165 for the fish to R185 for the meat and R50 for dessert. Juices are R20 each, and beer and wine (by the glass) are R40
Parking: Take your chances on the street, or take an Uber
Star ratings: Food 4, ambience 4, service 4
You can’t book a table at Chefs; simply arrive on the day (lunch starts at 12) and take a look at what’s on offer – the dishes are all displayed and explained on iPads on the counter. Simply scroll through the options and make your choice. Meals are served on canteen-style metal trays with different compartments for each component of the dish. Everything is free range – and lots of it is cooked in the wood-fired oven.
On the day we visit, options include bourbon-basted barbeque Karoo lamb cutlets with crispy matchstick fries, a salad of chopped baby greens with a chèvre-and-coriander dressing, mint tzatziki, green chilli salsa and lemon-preserve mayonnaise. It’s a substantial portion of four lamb cutlets, so you could share if you wanted to. My meat-loving partner thoroughly enjoys his choice, commenting on the succulence and flavour of the lamb.
The fish dish is a creamy tartare – hand-chopped yellowtail coated with a parsley-herb mayonnaise, capers and cornichons, topped with a soft-boiled egg and battered white boquerones (anchovies). It’s served with a deliciously fresh apple salsa and a side salad of celeriac, celery and cucumber, some crème fraîche and ciabatta shards. I find this dish a little lacking in texture; there could be more ciabatta shards, and the crème fraîche feels a little unnecessary with the already creamy sauce on the fish.
The vegetarian option of the day is ember-roasted aubergine marinated in Malay spices, served with cumin, almond and pickled pear bulgur wheat, and topped with wood-roasted broccolini. It comes with a side salad of baby spinach and chunky tomato salsa, carrot pickle, mango atchar and spiced flatbreads. Neither of us order this dish, but a neighbouring table seems to enjoy it.
There’s also a dessert option – if you can fit it in. On the day, there’s lime frozen yoghurt with wood-roasted pineapple, litchis, granadilla and a coconut crumb, with a small salted lemon-meringue macaron on the side. This is heavenly. The frozen yoghurt is so creamy it tastes more like ice cream, and the tropical flavours are the perfect refreshing end to our meal.
Order home-made juice or cordial of the day, beer, wine and sparkling or still water.
It’s light, bright and airy, with big oblong windows. It can get quite busy, with a nice buzz. The décor is minimal, with communal tables and an open-plan kitchen.
You are welcome to pay up front or after you’ve had your meal. After ordering, take a seat at one of the communal tables and wait for your food to be delivered. Service is quick and attentive, so you can be assured you’ll be out on time if you’re watching the clock.
It’s a little on the pricey side for a quick work lunch, but definitely worth it for something a little more formal such as a business meeting. Chefs is now also open until 8pm for early dinners.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Reads our editorial policy here.