The Company’s Garden Restaurant is that rare find: a decades-old and beloved establishment received a much-needed and yet appropriate facelift, and has now comfortably settled into its new look and rhythm. If, however, you’re hankering after youthful forays into the city (even taking the train, perhaps?) and enjoying fish and chips at the Company Gardens Café while tossing stray crumbs at the ever-present pigeons, never fear, both the dish and the birds are still on the menu (so to speak).
There’s a nice breakfast menu, perfect for those days when you may have half an hour to spare before the first meeting. The lunch menu is quite straightforward and offers something for every taste (even a vegan option or two). Personally, I lean towards the dishes that celebrate our local heritage, like the bobotie roti under the starters, and the Cape Malay butter chicken curry, a very fragrant dish that is sure to chase all winter blues away. Next time I want to try the Cape Malay platter for sure, which includes beef samoosas, dhaaltjies, spicy vegetarian spring rolls and chutney.
There are also a couple of salads, the aforementioned fish and chips, a burger, and a chicken and mushroom pot pie that simply oozes invitation.
The dessert table – with a nice variety of cakes – is inviting. And then of course you can always go for that old Company’s Garden staple – scones with cheese, cream and jam. Lekker, man.
The wine list is vaster than you would expect of a restaurant in a botanical garden, although the mark-up is on the steep end. On the plus side, given their urban setting and the fact that plenty of the clientele will be city workers, there’s plenty of choice by the glass. There’s also some craft beer, a small selection of cocktails (do try the Gardens Pimms) and some milkshakes for the kids to indulge in. Highly recommended are the fresh juices – my choice of apple, pear and mint went down a treat.
Very friendly and accommodating. I’ve heard that it can be a touch slow on busy days, but the restaurant was hopping when I got there and I had no trouble. Besides which, you are eating in a botanical garden. Take your time for a change, and enjoy a slow meal.
The restaurant really has a lovely vibe – the setting is peaceful without being sleepy, and busy without being too loud. The theme of the lush gardens outside is continued within, with plenty of greenery and green touches in the furniture, complemented by natural wooded textures. If you’re on your own or enjoying a working lunch, grab a seat by the window counter, which offers charging facilities and a pleasant view of the outside goings-on – particularly the pigeons doing their breadcrumb-hustle. And if you’re lucky (and quick), you may nab a spot in front of the indoor fireplace. The bathrooms are sparkling clean and offer wheelchair access and baby-changing facilities.
The venue is available for functions (even at night), with several well-designed function menus to choose from. Given the family-friendly setting, it would also be the perfect choice for a birthday party.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
This spot is so utterly lovely, surrounded by history and beautiful greenery, that it's hard to have a bad time here. But wow, the dish I had on Sunday really tested my resolve. Billed as a calamari salad with feta, grilled vegetables, greens and creme fraiche, it sounded delicious and full of texture and freshness. Boy, was I wrong. The calamari was tender enough, but I wasn't sure how it was cooked, it having no discernible flavour and lacking the scorch marks of a nice smoky baptism in the pan. The grilled veg were nowhere to be seen on initial inspection - halfway through I found scraps of some hard aubergine and zucchini, but not enough to warrant being mentioned on the menu. The 'greens' were just loads of frilly lettuce and there was no creme fraiche; instead, the lot was drenched in Greek salad dressing from a bottle. For ±R80, too! My friends' meals all looked - and tasted - delicious, so I had a major case of order envy. I will be back, but know better now and will stick to cake, scones or burgers. Hopefully it was just a bad day that they sent something out of the kitchen missing half its ingredients.
The ambience outdoors is beautiful, but things can get a little loud indoors, what with the clattering of the kitchen. Book well ahead if you'd like a seat in the jungly, sun-dappled area outside.