Thali (Gardens)

11 Reviews
Indian, Modern
Phone Number 0212862110 Opening Hours Lunch Dinner

Lunch: Friday and Saturday 12pm to 2.30pm

Dinner: Monday to Saturday 5pm to 9.30pm


Menu - Thali - Menu - updated in January 2018


Lunch : R250 ; R800 set menu for tapas for 2
Indian, Modern
Lunch : R250 ; R800 set menu for tapas for 2
Bar scene, Business meetings, Groups, Quick meals, Special occasions
Mastercard, Visa
Accepts credit cards, Booking required, Child friendly, Dinner, Food, Serves food, WiFi

Location and contact

3 Park Road, Gardens, Cape Town

Critic's review

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food

Jeanne Calitz

Thali, the Indian establishment in award-winning chef Liam Tomlin’s restaurant stable, offers diners a veritable feast of spectacular modern Indian cuisine.

The food served at Thali is, quite simply, breathtaking. Like all restaurants from Liam Tomlin (of Chefs Warehouse fame), the tapas plate for two is the star of the show. Here it is, apart from some oysters to start, the only item on the menu. You might wonder at such a ‘limited’ offering; yet, as plate after plate and platter after platter arrives at the table, bearing 8 dishes in total, you’ll be amazed at the generosity of the whole. It’s a glorious feast of tastes and textures, and evidence of a chef supremely confident in the unique building blocks and the careful layering of flavours that comprise Indian cuisine. At work in the kitchen is head chef JP van der Haar and clearly he knows his way around the spice rack.

The humble mung bean is lifted to dhal greatness thanks to the presence of a beautifully tangy braised tomato sauce. Crispy, deep-fried spinach bhaji are adorned with a fresh mint and coriander dressing and then, to add some earthy balance, a deeply smoky, sweet date and tamarind sauce. A dish showcasing three ways with cauliflower is a marvel of spicy and piquant tastes and cleverly contrasting textures. Tandoori chicken skewers arrive in a small, gleaming tandoor oven at the table, leaving a mouth-watering, smoky trail in its wake. Served with a cooling cucumber raita and a robust tomato chilli jam, the flavours explode in the mouth.

Then come the fish courses, of which the fish tacos are the crowning glory. The light gold casing holds marinated and deep-fried kingklip, sprinkled with finely sliced green and red onions, and a curried aïoli. The only complaint would be that the serving seduces the palate then leaves you yearning for more – I would happily dine on a plate of these. But then there’s still a wonderful seafood curry to enjoy, with sea bass, confit prawn and mussels, not to mention tender duck served in a flavourful sauce of coconut milk, cardamom and cloves. Savoury rice on the side and the fluffiest, most fragrant garlic naan in local history, completes the offering.

There is dessert as well, to be ordered separate from the tapas for two. I’ve heard good things about the kulfi ice cream (in flavours like rose and pistachio) and confess to be very enamoured by the idea of the chai custard with almond praline and spiced banana bread. But that will have to wait for a next visit – to which I look forward with great anticipation.

A sizeable drinks list with a wide range of spirits and a very tempting selection of cocktails redolent of exotic Asian flavours. Wines are arranged in categories of mild, medium and hot – as in the types of wines that would work well with these categories of spice. There’s more than enough variety, and plenty of by-the-glass options.

You would be forgiven for forgetting – perhaps one starry summer’s night, seated at one of the courtyard tables under the twinkling lights – that you are in fact in Cape Town, and not India. The décor here is just exactly right. The feeling is exotic without veering into kitsch, with a colour scheme of browns, moody blues and bright copper accents. The music – relaxed electro-pop with a modern Indian slant – also helps to set the vibe. We visited on a quiet Friday afternoon, but come sundown I’d imagine this spot would be hopping.

Perfectly on point – staff are well-versed in the intricacies of the various dishes. They seem keen to be there, and genuinely delighted at the dazzled expressions on diners’ faces.

Best for…
A spur-of-the-moment TGIF meal or payday-type celebratory dinner – but you’d need to be canny to get a table, as the restaurant does not accept bookings. That said, it’s a sizeable space with lots of seating, and the set menu should mean a quick turnover, so even if you get there and don’t immediately find a table, you could always wait in style at the bar, drink in hand, no?

(August 2018)

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.

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User reviews

11 Reviews
    Wow! What a wonderful restaurant! Flavour extravaganza! Excellent value for money! Highly recommended. Authetic indian cuisine experience.
    A divine entrée to the senses. The smells, flavors and tastes are indescribable. This is for the connoisseur, the novice and even for those those that don’t dare to be adventurous. Simply sublime. Could not recommend Thali more highly. Loved everything about it.
    Best indian food in Cape Town. Good service.
    Thali brings Indian fine-dining to life. Don't expect the ambience of 5-star restaurant, but know that the food, presentation and flavours are what you're there for. Naan, paratha, oxtail, butter chicken, vegetarian dahl - even non-Indian food lovers will be able to appreciate this carefully curated meal. Not too spicy, but full of flavour, texture & additional condiments. When in doubt, just add a squeeze of lime. Do yourself a favour.
    We indulge every taste to a wonderful experience!The food was sensational!♡☆☆☆
    Arriving to have lunch at Chef’s Warehouse on Heritage Square, I was told that they are full, but that there would be a spot open at Thali. I arrived and was warmly welcomed by the front-of-house barman staff, who immediately showed me to a spot in full view of the kitchen. Its a Saturday afternoon so the kitchen staff is busy prepping. I ordered a vanilla whiskey sour and my four courses of the “Thali for One” - the first course being chicken skewers with naan and sambals. OMG. Dis not see that coming! Exquisite! Another whiskey sour (they are that good!) and the fish tacos arrived! Boom! The pompodon taco is genius and the fusion of cultures is complete... this is what humanity should be about. A conglomeration of ideas and tastes and minds! Incredible! (Going well with this is a glass of SpiderPig Rose... cause you know... humanity also needs Rose!) The seafood curry arrive and I am nlown away. Colorful, aromatic and beautifully presented... the swirdfish was exceptional and the prawns and mussels well-cooked. The sauce for the curry was probably the best curry sauce I have ever tasted. Served with beautifully spiced basmati and a roti from heaven this dish was superb. An amazing experience that can be recommended again and again!
    Easily my favourite restaurant in Cape Town. Outstanding!
    The food is next level, you will battle to find better in cape town. Service is great and awesome vibe. Easy parking available in the lifestyle centre if kloof is busy.
    Glorious flavours. Beautiful food. Great service.
    What an amazing experience!!! Our first time at Thali and we already can't wait to be back. Both me and my partner do not eat onion or coriander and they were great to accommodate that and make the dishes taste amazing without the two components. We were so pleased. The place gets full so make sure you get there before 6:30pm or you will wait until after 8:30pm for a seat. Cocktails, service and food 5/5 !!!!

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