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Besoek die aktiewe LitNet-platform by www.litnet.co.za

This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > Artikels | Features

Inner City Banquet

Herman Lategan - 2007-03-16

Just a few years ago Cape Town’s city centre was a dreary lunar landscape at night. Tired office workers migrated back home, to the suburbs. It was deadly quiet, no atmosphere, and dangerous on top of it. Tourists were mugged, and warned about criminals and street urchins.
Culinary strips such as Kloof Street, Green Point and the outer suburbs flourished, but the heart of the city had no beat to it.
Thankfully, all that has changed now. The nightlife of the inner city has been reclaimed by the people of Cape Town and the city has joined the ranks of other international hotspots with vibrant city centres, such as New York and Hong Kong.
Yes, we might be smaller, but from a cosmopolitan food perspective we have nothing to be ashamed of. Zilch. New, exciting eateries have mushroomed all around the CBD. Not only do they look gorgeous, but they have menus to match.
Let’s kick-start our culinary journey by popping in at Patat, situated on the corner of Parliament and Longmarket Streets. The interior is lemon-fresh: clean lines in black and deep red, resonating the Art Deco feel of the building. Full-length glass doors offer a great inside-outside el fresco-type café atmosphere. The mood is gentle and it’s the perfect venue for conversation. You don’t have to scream to be heard. Patat’s food is the real thing: authentic South African fare and a fusion of Cape Dutch, Malay and Portuguese.
The food consists of sophisticated (rotating) daily buffets, as well as an alternative menu. Stunning items include broccoli and blue cheese soup; leg of lamb marinated in soya, rosemary and garlic, served on a plump bed of pasta with fresh herbs. The chef is Nedine Lennox, a sprightly looking lady who cooks with a grand passion.
One of the desserts, the flavoursome poppy seed pancake with kiwi, strawberries and chocolate sauce, is a sure winner with guests. Since the restaurant forms part of the Cape Diamond Hotel, languages from all over the world can be heard in muted tones from tables around you. Indeed, just like the United Nations.
Downstairs there’s a funky, avant garde new cabaret venue, light-heartedly called Gatta Patat, where you can wine and dine, while enjoying top cabaret acts. Incidentally, the wine list changes monthly, with wines served from specific estates.
Around the corner from Patat is Bowl, a prime restaurant overlooking the historic Adderley Street. It has picturesque outdoor terraces, with uninterrupted views of the city. The menu features Euro-Asian cuisine from their British chef, Ian Cawkwell, who – they boast – was trained in the classic French tradition under Gordon Ramsay. Need they say more? Cawkwell has taken his English, French and Asian cooking influences and channelled them into one style – hence the term Euro-Asian. While the cuisine is fine dining, the almost industrial-looking interior, with red brick walls, black chairs and timber floors gives it a more relaxed atmosphere.
Try the sizzling pan-fried fillet with braised beetroot – fillet of beef cooked to your specification, topped with beignet potato, wilted spinach and served with a red wine jus. Moreover, they also serve magnificent breakfasts. A choice dessert is the white and dark chocolate roulard, which is frozen white and dark chocolate mousse served with mixed summer fruit and raspberry coulisse. Incidentally, this spot is the sister restaurant of Wasabi, Wakame and Salushi.
Diametrically opposite the Bowl, one of the city’s best-looking and most imposing restaurants recently opened their doors. Think New York, ultra-grand interior, mammoth venue, über dining. Seven years of painstaking restoration have gone into this building, and it shows.
Three separate kitchens have been set up on the ground floor and old bank vaults in the basement have been transformed into an extensive wine cellar. Diners can participate in the adventure by walking through the vaults to choose their own wines. The head chef is Evan Coosner, a man who literally has a finger in every pie.
The first floor houses a specially ventilated cigar library for that naughty after dinner-time indulgence, and private dining rooms are available for those select occasions. The variety on the carte du jour is astounding: Beluga Caviar, Patagonia Calamari, exotic local and imported fish, grilled game fillets, duck and various freshly baked cakes of the day.
Right behind this shrine to beauty is the colourful and sexy Café Mao, with its tasty fusion of Asian dishes served quickly and at reasonable prices. It’s part of the slick Mandela-Rhodes development and dishes are from Vietnam, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia and Korea.
This sexy venue identifies strongly with Andy Warhol, whose colourful outsized pastiche prints of the Chinese namesake set a contemporary, pop-art theme. The decor is chic, funky, minimalist, the service snappy and the crowd hip and happening. Add into that mix a dramatic open-plan kitchen full of energetically-performing chefs, and what you experience is pure bells and whistles and theatre.
Chef Lin Liu changes the Asian soups daily, with vegetarian options always available. A personal favourite is the Nasi Goreng: Indonesian fried rice with chicken, shrimps, chillies, cabbage, satay and fried egg. The smoothies are great too, especially the refreshing honey and banana lassi.
In the same building you’ll find Signal Hill Wines, a rustic-type winery set right in the heart of Cape Town. The open-plan wine producer enables visitors to view the entire winemaking process of destemming, crushing, fermentation, barrelling, bottling, labelling, right on the premises.
In addition, they will also be serving light bistro meals with a wide array of cheeses during the day and their downstairs Barrel room will be available for functions, wine-tastings and special catering.
And finally, the cherry on top of this culinary journey, is Addis in Cape just up road in 41 Church Street. Ethiopia comes to Cape Town and brings with it its traditions, flavours and beauty. Ordering a variety of dishes gives everyone the opportunity to share and sample the different tastes of this fine gastronomy. Here they have two cutting-edge young Ethiopian chefs, Tadelech Asnake and Tejitu Tolossa.
All main courses are seasoned using their unique home-made Ethiopian blend of spices and are accompanied by Injera – pancake-like bread which is the staple food in many parts of Ethiopia. The dough (rice flour) is left to ferment for a day or two.
A portion of the dough is made into porridge, which is cooled and then added back into the original dough mixture on the day of baking. The batter is surprisingly thin and the end product is like fluffy velvet.
On the other hand there is Bebere, the main ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine. It’s a hot, spicy and aromatic home-made mixture of chilli and spices and takes about ten days to prepare. It contains all the spices you can think of, added in different quantities. The secret lies in when and in which form you mix the different spices with chilli.
The extensive menu includes a staple of beef, lamb, prawns; however, it is in the preparation of these meals that the secret lies.
Indeed, who would have thought that the world would be our oyster, and Cape Town the sparkling pearl in it? Enjoy!
Details for new eateries:
  • Patat: Stylish, SA cuisine: tel 021 461-2519
  • Bowl: Trendy Eurasian: tel 021 469-1909
  • Riboville: Fusion and seafood: tel 021 426-0324
  • Café Mao: Hip, Asian, chic, sexy: tel 021 422-0699
  • Signal Hill Wines: Wine Cellar, light Bistro meals: tel 021 461-9590
  • Addis in Cape: Ethiopia comes to Cape Town: tel 021 424-5722.
Old inner-city stalwarts
They might have been around for a while, but they still offer great food.
  • Bukhara: Fine Indian: tel 021 424-0000
  • Haiku: Top-notch Asian: tel 021 424-7000
  • Five Flies: Old-world, but also contemporary: tel 021 424-4442
  • Forty Ate: Elegant, global: tel 021 422-2270
  • Savoy Cabbage: International, exotic: tel 021 424-2626.