Whether its their wildly Instagrammable interiors, serious cheffing credentials or – for one – that it just landed Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List – consider these restaurants our new local
As restaurateur credentials go, celebrity chef LDR’s needs no introduction – The Test Kitchen, The Pot Luck Club, and The Shortmarket Club are all multi-award winning establishments with the sort of waiting lists that make getting a table for dinner not so much a spontaneous outing as a long-term commitment – and it seems the same can be said for SALON, his newest venture. The Maurice Paliaga-designed space (located at Woodstock’s Old Biscuit Mill) welcomes you through an otherworldly corridor that’s part M.C. Escher, part intergalactic portal into a low-lit, modern-Victorian style, well, salon. There are two multi-course menus – The Journey and The Explorer – with dishes drawing influence from various countries that have had a profound influence on the eponymous chef’s culinary style.
A restored heritage house just off of Kloof Street is reimagined as a modern Victorian, casual-cool dining spot with chef Amori Burger on food – expect small, shareable plates of global fare, seasonal produce and big flavours – and the team behind award-winning Joburg bar Sin + Tax on the beverage program – the cocktail offering is heady and inspired. Not to be outdone, the interiors read like a who’s who of South African design, with the two-level dining area playing out in a parade of clashing prints, stained glass and glazed ceramic tiles.
An Italian-ish (their words, not ours) restaurant that has achieved a dizzying degree of coolness most places in Cape Town rarely do. Perhaps it’s the interiors – candy-apple red and grapefruit pink walls, painted to create a kind of trompe-l’oeil panelling effect usually reserved for the stark-white boiserie of Parisian apartments. Maybe it's the menu – concise, considered – with dishes designed for sharing (tables laden with six or seven plates are par for the course, here). Or perhaps it's the shady, tucked-away courtyard out the back, where the city’s achingly chic drink Aperols away from the busyness of Kloof Street. Whatever it is, it’s working.
Surprisingly, the second restaurant on this list with an all-red dining room, although this one has an altogether more serious, old-world charm about it (thanks in no small part to the original ’70s grillhouse features that were carefully preserved in the remodelling of the space). The focus here is firmly on pan-Asian cuisine, from small plates of grilled scallops with Tom Yum foam and Korean BBQ pork bao to the full pomp and ceremony that is Peking Duck with all the trimmings. It's a grand affair – as you’d expect from a union as auspicious as the Belmond Mount Nelson and chef Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse.
The only Cape Town restaurant to make Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Hot List, this chic new restaurant certainly lives up to its hype. The menu features chef Mmabatho Molefe’s modern takes on traditional Zulu and Nguni cuisine – surprisingly not an all-that-common dining option in South Africa – while rising-star designer Walter Train applied a striking Afro-industrial style to the light, bright interiors.