Great tapas at Chalk & Cork in Kloof Street

Today we’re heading to Chalk & Cork on Cape Town’s Kloof Street. It’s the road that connects the centre of the city to all the City Bowl neighbourhoods and is where Long, Orange and Buitensingel meet. More than that it’s a hive of activity with such a range of places to eat and drink you’re going to get confused if you wander for too long. On the up side you’re definitely going to find something that suits your needs.

Tapas-style eating is everywhere these days. Suits me as it means I get to try more of the dishes on offer and can avoid food envy when others’ orders look better than mine.

The slightly strangely named Chalk & Cork specialise in sharing plates. This small, quirky restaurant has a lovely outside area, perfect for Kloof Street people-watching, a small bar area downstairs and a few tables upstairs. It’s a cosy little place with welcoming service and a great feel. And there are corks all over the place, they’re part of the decor –  not so sure what the chalk has to do with it. Anyway, it’s certainly a name that sticks in the mind.

We shared a range of dishes which were all outstanding. The tempura of East Coast hake came with variations of peas – such a clever idea. Pea puree, peas in and out of the pod and pea shots added a beautiful sweetness to the flakey fish with its perfectly crisp batter.

Chalk & Cork hake

Sweet and crunchy hake tempura with peas

The smoked tomato risotto was served with sour cream and charred corn. The smoking certain gave the dish a unique flavour and the sour cream added extra zest.

Chalk & Cork risotto

Soft and smoky tomato risotto

My favourite of the dishes we ordered was the aged beef steak which was served with pickled carrots atop an aromatic green curry sauce. The steak was so perfectly cooked and the sauce had a lovely creaminess and a real chilli kick. Think I’ll have to keep the whole bowl for myself next time. And doesn’t it look beautiful?

Chalk & Cork steak

Beautifully tender beef on a bed of spicy green curry sauce

Finally, this stunning plate of food is their new potato salad with a herb aioli, walnuts, radishes and celery. Wonderfully crunchy and crisp with the herbiest of dressings.

The herbiest of new potato salads

We did also enjoy a plate of lamb meatballs with mint yogurt, peas and fresh basil. Sorry for the lack of photographic evidence.

I will definitely go back to Chalk & Cork. I loved all their dishes, the service was fabulous and it has a lovely, relaxed feel – and an excellent wine list. Most of all, it’s really great value for money.

Writing about Kloof Street turned out to be more of a challenge than I’d anticipated as my autocorrect kept changing it to Aloof Street, which made me laugh (although it was incredibly annoying!). There’s certainly nothing Aloof about this street!

Today’s price point

Two gin and tonics, five tapas dishes and two bottles of wine cost us R638. (Around £40 at today’s exchange rate).

It was plenty of food for four people.

Chalk & Cork is at 51 Kloof Street, Cape Town.

Time to sit back and relax at Kloof Street House

Kloof Street in Cape Town is a very busy place. It’s packed with shops, cafes and restaurants in the distance of about a kilometre.

My cousin Sal recently went to a newly opened restaurant there – something I’ve found much few of this year in South Africa (though my quest continues). So we agreed to meet her there for dinner, looking forward, as ever, to a new experience.

It’s a colonial-inspired restaurant and bar set in a magnificent Victorian house. I kept imagining what it must have been like to live there, with its huge windows, high ceilings and enormous rooms. Stunning!

Quirkily decorated with lots of interesting finishing touches, like a bar designed around old suitcases and trunks, it has that great subdued lighting that makes everyone look years younger while also making the menu that much harder to read…oh well, you can’t have everything.

After what has been a pretty indulgent few weeks of eating we decided to share some of their starters and sharing plates which we ordered all at once while requesting that they arrived at the table with some space between them. Which is just what they did so we were able to snack, chat and relax in what is a pretty chilled-out atmosphere.

The braised oxtail with parsnips and chilli jam were delicious little crispy parcels, a bit like croquettes. I love oxtail and the depth of flavours came through. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

oxtail

Braised oxtail with parsnips and chilli jam

Then a version of what must be one of the most indulgent of comfort foods. The white fish brandade was basically a bowl of flaked, sweet white fish mixed with buttery mashed potato, spring onions and topped with a mustard cream drizzle. The sort of food you want to take with you, sink into a comfy sofa and eat with a spoon, all to yourself. Yum!

White fish brandade with a mustard cream drizzle and crostini

White fish brandade with a mustard cream drizzle and crostini

Bearing in mind we were aiming half-heartedly for a light dinner, the chicken liver parfait probably wasn’t the most practical of choices (no calories in here, huh). But it was absolutely mouthwateringly silken and served with simply the most delicious pear and apricot chutney. My mission (another one!) is to make chutney as good as this…watch this space.

Chicken liver parfait with pear and apricot chutney

Chicken liver parfait with pear and apricot chutney

We also went for a mixed skewer board of kingklip and chicken kebabs and lamb koftas. They were well marinated and tender.

Kingklip and chicken skewers and lamb koftas

Kingklip and chicken skewers and lamb koftas

And finally, a salad. Simple, perfectly executed with a fab honey mustard dressing. One of my bugbears about salads that have avo in them is that far too often you’ll get avo that just isn’t quite ripe. Avo that I wouldn’t eat at home…tonight it was the most perfectly sweet, ripe and rich avo you could wish for. And the eggs were well cooked too, with slightly soft yolks.

Kloof Street salad of avo, feta and boiled egg with a honey mustard dressing

Kloof Street salad of avo, feta and boiled egg with a honey mustard dressing

A good new discovery that’s quirky without being too weird, and is comfortable and relaxed. There’s also a lovely terrace at the front…it’s just catching the right evening when the wind isn’t blowing to really enjoy that al fresco dinner.

Kloof Street House is at 30 Kloof Street.