This is where you go to enjoy classic cuisine prepared by a master with a flawless, long-standing reputation in Cape Town. German-born Harald Bresselschmidt – who spent his childhood in the pastoral surrounds of a working dairy farm on the Belgian border – uses heady local truffles, sustainable fish and game meats in what is touted as ‘East-meets-West’ gastronomic fare. Inside a handsome building – situated off-street and dating back to 1830 – Aubergine, named after the versatile nightshade, caters to a mix of business folk, foreigners looking for a taste of the familiar, and the occasional, well-to-do family.
Expect mains and degustation dishes like hake with fresh turmeric and coriander; rabbit loin with liver and a tangy cherry guava sauce; ostrich fillet and sweetbreads; cured duck ham with a soft-poached egg; antelope with barberry jus; the signature, pillowy soufflé (now on the dessert menu) and a dessert called “a dialogue of rhubarb”. The chocolate fondant is masterful but the crème brûlée, served in a too-long vessel, is odd.
Many of the vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s organic garden in Stellenbosch. Both à la carte and tasting menus are paired with a phenomenal selection of wines. Some may find the foams and emulsions hark to French menus of the past while many will find the execution and presentation reassuringly familiar.
The wine list is a work of art, with natural and boutique options that are tough to source elsewhere. This bears testament to Bresselschmidt’s belief in wine complementing food – an essential element of Aubergine’s ethos. Pardon Taguzu is the head sommelier, offering impeccable, unpretentious advice. He’ll happily accommodate your preferences and budget.
From the moment you walk in, you’re welcomed warmly. Waitstaff can linger and appear surly if you don’t make a decision timeously.
There’s a hard-to-place, outdated Alpine feel with the yellowood and blonde elements, wooden sash windows and rattan chairs at closely-packed tables. It’s accompanied by low lighting in the evenings but appears more modern by day light.
There are private dining areas for celebrations away from the main restaurant section.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Aubergine ticks all the boxes in terms of food, wine and friendly service. Tucked away in a side street in Gardens, it can be a little tricky to find parking, but the friendly guard will point you in a good direction. We enjoyed a 3 course meal with wine pairing. The choices seem endless, we actually had quite a hard time choosing our options! The specials option seemed to drag on a little bit, to the point of forgetting the extensive list offered by our waiter in addition to the 'normal' menu.
The sommelier was an absolute delight, pairing some conventional and unconventional options. He had me thoroughly enjoying a white wine, which I usually avoid like the plague.
The Beef Consomme was perfectly balanced, with some juicy pockets of ravioli floating delightfully in the middle.
The duck was the juiciest I've ever had, mouthwateringly delicious.
The Surprise Du Chef was a very welcome surprise with a selection of desserts. Special mention for the rice pudding - something I've never liked before but it was so good, as well as the creme brulee which had a delightful crack revealing its creamy delight beneath.
What a great evening.
This was perhaps the most diabolical experience of our lives! We were required to pay a deposit of R900 prior to confirmation of our meal, which was paid, yet only R750 was deducted from our bill that was well in excess of R3,000 for 5 people. When we queried this, the manager advised us that "those are the rules" as the restaurant needs to be "covered" since we had booked for 6 people but only 5 arrived. We pointed out that, notwithstanding the rules, one should waive the R150 in the circumstances, but said manager insisted, in all her legal wisdom, that we had signed a form and agreed to these terms. We did not expect this establishment's primary concern to be the enforcement of contracts instead of serving a good meal. We would have felt better if we were mugged by the chef on our exit. They should be ashamed and embarrassed. As for the food, it was average and over-prices; a real tourist trap.
We came here for lunch - 5 of us - last week. We had a great time.
The wine list and sommelier were impressive and an added pleasure was to see great wines being decanted properly and the the bottles displayed with their corks, next to our table - something more restaurants should do.
The menu, while not extensive, was perfectly constructed and had something for all of us, meat, fish, vegetarian. We managed between us to try all the starters 4/5 main courses and several of the puddings and no course let us down.
Thank you Aubergine for a great experience.
A recent visit to 'Aubergine' 'often overlooked by Awards Panels' but thankfully with a loyal following of local residents and visitors to Cape Town, our lunch, yet again proved what a gem this venue is. Catherine has to be the finest Reservations Manager in the city, whilst Harald calmly supervises his kitchen producing a delicious a la carte lunch menu with more options in the evenings. The wine list is legendary, and our waiter Chris was superb. So central yet tucked away in a peaceful corner of the city, we look forward to returning.
Such a lovely evening at Aubergine tonight. The service was attentive and knowledgeable. We chose two courses each from the winter bistro menu and found everything delicious. The main wine list is extensive but pricey, that being said a great sommelier, crystal and wine service all come with. Amuses bouches and friandise made it feel like a special occasion. Highly recommended.