Our Italian reunion at 95 Keerom

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may recall that I went to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy last year with my sister-in-law, Perry, and two friends Christa and Sarah. We had a fabulous time

So when we were all going to be in Cape Town at the same time we simply had to organise a reunion. The perfect opportunity for me to go to one of my favourite Italian restaurants in the city – 95 Keerom. The building originally housed the stables and staff quarters of the Company Gardens, going back to around 1882. Now it’s a stylish, modern restaurant (although some parts of the original building have been retained). We sat upstairs in the smart yet comfortable open plan layout.

Chef Giorgio Nava prides himself in producing authentic Milanese cuisine and is very hands-on in the restaurant. So much so he actually showed me to our table himself – seriously, I felt very special! He also comes to every table to explain the menu and any specials for the day. With his rich Italian accent he makes everything sound so inviting, it’s really hard to choose.

If you love carpaccio, this is the place for you – really, it’s carpaccio heaven with meat and fish served in different ways and a choice of seared or raw. You’ll see three different carpaccio dishes below, two beef served in different ways and the special of the day tuna, which is thinly sliced and briefly warmed in the oven.

I decided to go against the flow and order the caprese salad. Mainly because Giorgio made it sound totally irresistible. And he was right. The softest and creamiest of mozarella, perfect tomatoes and flavourful basil. The rest of the table commented that they could smell the basil when the waiter put my plate on the table. There’s no doubt ingredients are top quality and as fresh as can be here. Caprese is one of my all-time favourite starters and it doesn’t get better than this one.

The most delicious of caprese salads
L’insalata caprese – Italian tomato, fresh basil, chopped capers and creamy burata mozarella. Heaven on a plate!
Il carpaccio con palmito e parmigiano – beef carpaccio with palm hearts and parmesan
tuna carpaccio
Tuna carpaccio lightly warmed through and served with rocket
Il carpaccio “95” – beef carpaccio drizzled with homemade mayonnaise sauce and topped with fresh rocket and shaved parmesan

So on to mains. The menu choices delight with pasta dishes, fish and meat to ponder over.

La tartare – hand-chopped raw prime fillet dressed with olive oil, onion, egg, capers and parsley

There seems to be an abundance of fresh tuna in Cape Town at the moment, so I had to go for this dish. I like my tuna practically raw and always ask for it to be barely cooked. It’s surprising how often it turns out to be overcooked, which does upset me. I know, it’s only a piece of tuna but I can’t eat overcooked tuna (it’s like eating cardboard) so find it so disappointing. Today my plump steak was absolutely perfectly cooked, quickly seared on the outside and beautifully red inside. I ordered soft polenta with parmesan with it, beautifully creamy and indulgent. Such a good combination of flavours and textures, I swear I’ll find it very hard to order anything else next time I go there.

Il tonno grigliato all newyorkese – New York-style tuna seared and accompanied by cherry tomatoes, capers and olives
Il pescato del giorno alla “95” – linefish of the day, our style

Authentic, comforting Northern Italian food made with the freshest and tastiest of ingredients and served in a smart, relaxing space with welcoming service – and great company for dinner. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

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