Chef’s Warehouse in Beau Constantia

Tapas for 2 at Chef’s Warehouse, Beau Constantia 

I’m back! Finally! Apologies for deserting Eating Covent Garden for so long – I have been travelling the world, like really travelling the world! Since my last post in December I have spent time on four continents (two for the first time) and I have so much to share with you all. So watch this space.

I’m starting with my latest restaurant discovery in the stunning Constantia winelands in Cape Town. Yes, I’m back in Cape Town, hooray, and straight into one of the country’s top restaurants.

Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia opened a couple of years back and was voted the fourth best restaurant in South Africa in the Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards 2017. There are myriad great restaurants in this foodie country so that’s quite an accolade for such a youngster.

It sits at the top of the Constantia Valley with views over vines and forests towards the ocean. This makes the parking lot seem a little perilous, particularly for the vertiginous – make sure you’re steady on those heels if you’re thinking of wearing them. The restaurant is a modern, glass-sided construction which certainly makes the most of the views.

What’s on the menu

As soon as we were seated with a glass of their lovely Pas De Nom MCC bubbles (the perfect way to start any lunch), my dreaded menu indecision loomed large! Until I spotted the magic words Tapas for 2. No choices to be made here, it’s eight dishes to share. Makes life easy.

Dishes arrive in groups of two or three in three batches – I guess you could call it three courses. We started with a triple-plate sensation. The coal-seared tuna came with warm black bean and walnut salsa and a fresh apple and ginger relish, on a plate with a visually confusing foam design. There is no foam with this dish – it’s the plate!

Beau Constantia: tuna

Coal-seared tuna served with crunchy black bean and walnut salsa

My favourite of the first trio was the line fish sashimi. A beautiful curry-based concoction with the freshest of yellowtail, Cape Malay pickle, bbq garlic emulsion and fried batter. Seems like the perfect mix of flavours and textures.

Beau Constantia: sashimi

Fresh line fish sashimi with spicy flavours

The Vietnamese BBQ beef came with herbs, toasted rice and a zesty Vietnamese dressing. Love those fresh, clean flavours and the herby crunch.

Beau Constantia: Vietnamese beef

Rare, herby Vietnamese-style beef

After a short break the next duo was delivered. Described as Beau tomato bruschetta, smoked, pickled and grilled, a bowl of tomatoes done three different ways was topped with garlicky, thin slices of toasted bruschetta. I love a tomato – pretty much any tomato – and these were in a league of their own.

Beau Constantia: tomato

A tomato extravaganza in a cup

And then the ultimately indulgent dish. Parmesan and smoked butter risotto with red onion bordelais and fried Swiss chard, all topped with a delicately creamy, cleverly crafted gouda flower. I love the creaminess and softness of a good risotto but always balk at eating a full portion – it’s just a bit rich and filling for me. What joy to share a small portion of this deliciousness between two. And never has gouda tasted so good. Needless to say we both wished for a bigger portion once we’d cleaned the pan. Probably the nicest risotto I’ve ever tasted.

Beau Constantia: risotto

Luscious parmesan and smoked butter risotto

The final tasty trio

So how could it get any better? Well, there were still another trio of masterpieces to come. The slow roasted pork belly was served with  an apricot and miso tart, cashew nut milk and garlic and thyme oil. The tastiest of pork that fell apart at the touch of a fork and was topped with the crispiest of crackling matched wonderfully with the creamy cashew nut milk (there’s a first for me). And the light and crumbly miso tart, topped with firm, tart cooked apricots was the ideal accompaniment.

Beau Constantia: Pork belly

Delightful pork belly with flavours of apricots, miso and cashew

Firm, flaky hake came with a delicate yet intense parmesan and anchovy puree and was topped with paprika and lemon cream. The dainty fried polenta cubes, salty capers and crunchy spring onion completed another masterful dish.

Beau Constantia: Hake

Lemony hake teamed with parmesan, polenta, paprika and anchovy puree

And finally it was time for some lovely lamb. The adobo rubbed, slow-cooked rib came with red onion, heirloom tomato pickle, burnt butter and mixed pepper jus. Tender richness to savour.

Beau Constantia: lamb

Adobo rubbed slow-cooked lamb rib

I’ve fallen in love with Beau Constantia. How can you not with a view like this? And all that great food – light, fresh and cleverly balanced – and all looking so beautiful – like the greens and blues of the outlook across the valley.

Today’s price point

Tapas for 2 comes in at R700 (about £41 at today’s exchange rate).

That’s for both of you, not each.

A bottle of their delicious Rose was R180 (just over £10 at today’s exchange rate).

Find out more at beauconstantia.com

South China Dim Sum Bar – Cape Town’s dumpling heaven

How I love a dim sum feast. Consequently I was totally delighted when friends recommended the South China Dim Sum Bar. It’s right at the top of Cape Town’s Long Street (close to the Mountain).

Long Street is a mix of bars, coffee bars, souvenir shops and random other shops, youth hostels and book shops. As a result it’s a busy, interesting road, also known for its attractive Victorian buildings with their wrought iron balconies.

First of all we popped in at The Dubliner for a quick pint (they serve Kilkenny Irish ale on tap). My Irish roots appreciate that it seems like there’s an Irish welcome in a bar everywhere in the world.  A refreshing beer and time to head for some much needed Dim Sum treats.

South China Dim Sum Bar is an understated sort of establishment. It’s a long, narrow room and you sit at small tables on crates or stools – not unlike a lot of the places we experienced recently in Vietnam. The place was buzzing with activity when we arrived and we got the last available table.

There’s a good selection of dim sum as well as a soup and salad option. Must go back to try out their Thai papaya salad – one of my all-time favourites. Today we decided to go for a sampling of the dim sum – gotta get the full picture after all.

Dumplings are served up on paper plates (there’s no frills here), piping hot and obviously freshly made. The chicken wontons came with a spicy Szechuan dressing. And you’re also given a little bowl of soya, hoisin and chilli sauces for extra dipping.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Chicken wonton with spicy Szechaun sauce

My favourites of our order were the beef and lamb potstickers. I love their crunchy outside and they were packed with flavoursome meat.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Beef potstickers with black vinegar

The Har Gow were beautifully soft and packed with fresh prawns, while the Sui Mai offered a delightfully rich combination of pork and shiitake mushroom.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Delightful prawn and pork parcels

South China Dim Sum Bar

The trio of dipping sauces

South China Dim Sum Bar

Lamb potstickers with spicy yogurt

Service is friendly and quick and there’s a great atmosphere as people demolish large quantities of some of the best dim sum I’ve ever experienced. In addition, it’s all really great value.

I spotted the cocktail list too late – they all sounded very enticing therefore I will have to have one on my next visit.

Because I’m telling you there will definitely be another time. And soon.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Enjoy an exotic cocktail with your dim sum

South China Dim Sum Bar

The entrance to dumpling heaven

South China Dim Sum Bar

The menu is chalked up on the blackboard

South China Dim Sum Bar

You can watch the activity in the open kitchen

South China Dum Sum Bar

The lovely blue view opposite the restaurant

Today’s price point

And finally…lunch for two (five dim sum dishes and a bottle of wine) cost us R289 which is £18 at today’s exchange rate.

South China Dim Sum Bar is at 289 Long Street, Cape Town