Travelling and food go hand in hand, and it’s often the new and exciting flavour combinations that you sampled on holiday that stay with you long after you’ve unpacked your suitcase. Historically the top foodie destinations have been France and Italy, but with more and more travelers seeking something a little different, with the focus on innovative rather than classic cuisine enjoyed in breathtaking surroundings (as we all know eating is about more than just the food, it’s about the whole experience!) destinations such as South Africa and Australia have increasingly become popular. What better way to really get under the skin of a new destination and to experience its culture and the people who live there than by going on a culinary adventure?
Cape Town is fast becoming Africa’s culinary capital with a plethora of new restaurants popping up faster than you can say ‘gourmet’, one more fabulous than the next. It’s the perfect destination to go on holiday with groups of friends or family members as this city has something for everyone. Add to that the beautiful hot climate, superb wines, friendly service, focus and access to fresh and seasonal ingredients, great value for money, and incredible locations and you have a winning recipe! We’ve rounded up a list of our new (plus a few old) favourites to highlight why Cape Town and its surrounds should be on your list of must-visit culinary cities.
Located in the suburb of Noordhoek, French chef Franck Dangereux’s The Foodbarn is an old favourite, but his brand new The Foodbarn Studio may need an introduction. Situated a few minutes away in the home of fellow chef Nicky Gibbs (who has cooked for the likes of the Rolling Stones and the late David Bowie), this little gem offers weekly evening cooking classes where you get to savour the dishes after class, or you can opt to simply enjoy a delicious five to six-course lunch from Wednesday to Saturday.
Another interactive dining experience where you can learn the tricks of the trade by a local chef with years of experience in Cape Town’s food and wine culture is One Ingredient hosted by chef Matt Manning. Trained in the UK and formerly a chef at the prestigious La Colombe restaurant, Manning has worked with the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing. One Ingredient offers guests a hands-on tutorial of how to cook dishes, where he picks one seasonal ingredient to focus on whilst preparing an extravagant five-course menu with locally sourced wine pairings.
The original Chefs Warehouse frequently tops best-rated restaurants in Cape Town, and now chef Liam Tomlin has paired up with chef Ivor Jones (formally from the renowned Test Kitchen) to open a second Chefs Warehouse at the Beau Constantia Wine Estate in Constantia. The food is just as exceptional, boasting the same laid-back charm as the original eatery was known for.
Just around the corner is another newbie Foxcroft which is co-owned by chef Glen Foxcroft Williams and well-known chef Scot Kirton of La Colombe, another truly innovative fine-dining restaurant. Feast on exquisitely prepared dishes at incredibly good value for money in elegant surroundings. When going on a gastronomic pilgrimage to Cape Town, two restaurants stand out that are not brand new but still deserve a mention.
The Test Kitchen with chef Dale-Luke Roberts at the helm needs no introduction, consistently being rated amongst the world’s top restaurants. Renowned for his innovative, cutting-edge cuisine that cleverly combines ingredients that traditionally don’t go together; this is one of Cape Town’s best, located in the trendy Biscuit Mill. La Colombe is another one of Cape Town’s fine-dining favourites, recently having relocated to the Silvermist Estate overlooking the Constantia valley. With exceptional service and a variety of beautifully presented dishes it’s just another reason to put Cape Town at the top of your culinary vacation list. Be aware that bookings for Test Kitchen open exactly one month (to the minute!) ahead of time and you can only book online.
For some truly African cuisine, head to the Gold Restaurant located in trendy Green Point. Here you can immerse yourself in uniquely African flavours with dishes that showcase Cape Town’s Malay heritage, as well as traditional African delicacies. Gold is a must for anyone seeking to experience vibrant African hospitality at its best and includes traditional entertainment.
Franschhoek has been on the gourmet food map for some time, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to visit this slice of heaven you won’t be disappointed by the host of incredible restaurants (not to mention the fine wine estates!) that line this picturesque village located in the heart of the famous Cape Winelands. For contemporary South African fare try Ryan’s Kitchen. Having completed his training at various international Michelin schools, Ryan has created an eatery with a cozy atmosphere that serves up smaller tasting menus. His signature ‘Taste of Africa’ menu is well worth a try!
Another brand new restaurant on the Franschhoek gastronomic scene is Foliage opened by foraging-enthusiast (and formerly celebrated chef at Pierneef á la Motte) Chris Erasmus. With an eclectic menu that comprises of locally sourced and foraged ingredients, this restaurant has become hugely popular. The restaurant boasts an open kitchen and cozy fireplace from where you can watch Erasmus in action crafting his exquisite dishes.
The Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant is another top restaurant that is well worth a visit. Under the new helm of chefs Nic van Wyk and Westley Müller (who took over the kitchen in late 2016), together with the expertise of cellar master Takuan von Arnim, Haute Cabriére has flourished into a must-visit culinary destination. You can expect beautifully prepared, eclectic dishes that complement the estates esteemed wines perfectly in spectacular surroundings overlooking the Franschhoek valley.
A culinary tour to Africa is full of variety, intrigue, and just a little bit of African magic and you can take your pick of extraordinary culinary experiences – from sophisticated fine dining and ethnic eateries to simple, yet incredibly flavoursome traditional bush cuisine when you go onto your safari destination. But more about The Best Safari Lodges for Foodies next month…!