Cheyne’s is worth the drive to Hout Bay – even in the darkness of loadshedding – for imaginative tapas, says Linda Scarborough.
Cheyne Morrisby’s menu is very exciting. Don’t be intimidated by the title of ‘Pacific Rim cuisine’ or the enigmatic lists of ingredients: this is attractive food that’s easy to like. Inspired by flavours from South East Asia to Japan, the menu is divided into tapas portions of sea, land, earth and happy endings, making it fun to navigate.
Unfortunately, due to loadshedding, three of the dishes are unavailable. This is hardly a concern when the menu is this intriguing, but perhaps explains why there are some missing and repeated ingredients.
The Tokyo beef slider with szechuan pepper and king oyster cream (our waiter’s recommendation) arrives topped with mini tempura onion rings and a sliver of dried Wagyu. It’s bold and beautifully textured, with the punchy pepper-cream sauce taking centre stage.
The chicken yakitori is perfectly cooked and served on a ring of grilled pineapple – a playful, tangy touch – but its sweet, sticky marinade tends to overwhelm the delicate cardamom and pear jelly cubes served alongside.
Gorgeously presented, the pan-fried shiitake and king oyster mushrooms are laid out along a curved wooden platter to show off their shapes. The expected cashew-garlic purée seems to have been replaced with the same (or similar) pepper-cream sauce from the beef slider, which we find a bit too rich for the delicate fungi. Our curiosity is rewarded, however, when the signature ‘deep-fried milk’ arrives: fragrant coconut cream cubes are scented with Thai curry flavours, battered and fried, and served with green chilli caramel.
As for the happy endings, the yuzu crème catalan dessert is a masterstroke. Adding the tartness of that Japanese citrus fruit to the creamy custard– with its crackable crust – is a clever move, and delicious with the ginger-cinnamon tuille and butterscotch sauce. If Irish coffee is your thing, the Kyoto coffee delivers an Asian twist on the original, with a hit of Nikka Pure Malt Black whisky, espresso, and lashings of hot coconut cream.
Now licensed, you can pick your poison from the options available.
The staff are all friendly and accommodating. They look after us well, topping up our wine and clearing discreetly. This is an impressive feat in the loadshedding candlelight, in what must be awkward circumstances for them.
It’s a smart and edgy space, with dark walls decorated in modern art with witty pop culture references. The many dining rooms of the converted house are pretty full for a chilly weeknight, suggesting it’s popular with Hout Bay locals as well as the town-side travellers.
As you arrive and leave, take a peek into the open kitchen to see the row of white-clad chefs tending their plates and pots.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals. Read our editorial policy here.