Delightful Italian fare at Osteria Tarantino

Today we’re heading for the villagey feel of Cape Town’s De Waterkant. It’s a colourful world of cottages and cobbled streets that’s also home to myriad cafes, bars and restaurants. Plenty to see here, just make sure your footwear is comfy – you’re going to have slopes to deal with.

Our lunchtime destination was Osteria Tarantino towards the top of the hill. Though we did stop halfway up for a refreshing g&t on the verandah of The Grey Hotel – I do love a verandah, even the word conjures up happy images for me. There’s also a chilled rooftop bar which we had to check out. Thumbs up all round. Time for lunch.

Osteria Tarantino is a family-owned little eatery where you’re welcomed with open arms. The menus are chalked on blackboards and the owner Enrico Tarantino (and yes surely he’s related to Quentin!) explains all the available dishes with passion. Making it really hard to choose one, they all sound irresistible. So while we tried to settle on our mains we ordered some Tuscan cigars to keep us going.

What’s on the menu

The sweetest of Parma ham is wrapped around soft, creamy stracciatella cheese and peppery rocket. These are little parcels of heaven with the perfect mix of flavours and textures.

Tarantino: starter

All the pasta is freshly made on-site. The signature dish is called 4Ps. Porcini, parmigiana and pancetta make up the main ingredients of a delightful tomato-based veal mince sauce that is served with pappardelle ribbons. This is the generous pan which is a portion for two.

Tarantino: 4P pasta

The amazing pan of 4 Ps

Tarantino:4P pasta

Luscious ribbons and delicious sauce

My indulgent dish was the magical-sounding fiocchetti pasta. Little hand-made flower-shaped parcels filled with sweet gorgonzola and served with a creamy porcini sauce, topped generously with parmesan. Soft and satisfyingly creamy, this is a cheese lover’s dream.

Tarantino: Fioccheti

Beautifully rich and cheesy fioccheti

Tarantino: Fioretti

A closer view of the delicate flowers

This is food cooked with love and passion. Pasta dishes can’t be more perfectly made or more satisfying to eat. I’m telling you – it’s a fact. My little flowery parcels were certainly some of the best pasta I’ve ever tasted.

We then couldn’t resist ordering a tiramisu to share (who can resist a tiramisu?) which was beautifully moist with great coffee flavours and a touch of liquor. All made by the lovely Michele who is Enrico’s stepson and looked after us so well on our lunchtime visit.

Tarantino: tiramisu

Perfect flavours of coffee and booze

Tarantino: blackboard

One of the beautifully chalked blackboards

Tarantino: balsamic

Lovely wine and balsamic

What a lunch! We left with hugs from Michele and John (yes we had officially become part of the Tarantino family) and promises to be back soon. Now there’s a promise I’m going to keep.

Tarantino: friends

Candice makes friends with the family – the lovely Michele

Today’s price point

We paid R1,100 (around £65 at today’s exchange rate) for lunch for three people.

This included one starter, three pasta dishes, one dessert and two bottles of wine.

Osteria Tarantino is at 125A Waterkant Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town.

Chefs Cape Town for a unique dinner concept

Today we’re up for a night out with a difference at Chefs Cape Town where they are dishing up a new approach to dinner. There are no menus, no fancy decor and just three meal options which change daily and are posted on their website. So you can check it out in the morning to make sure there’s something you like the sound of.

When you arrive, there’s an iPad on your table to recheck your options and make final decisions. Our three main-course choices were chicken, fish and a vegetarian tomato-based dish, they all sounded good to me. There are no starters.

Another unique aspect of Chefs is that you’re served by one of the chefs – there are no waiters (and therefore no need for tipping). Your food – consisting of a main and sides is brought to you displayed on their signature tray. And very attractively displayed, too.

The spiced yogurt chicken with its delicately rounded Indian flavouring was served with a perfectly matched selection of sides and condiments. Delicate carrot and coconut salad, zesty tomato relish, creamy raita and the softest of buttery pitta bread.

Chefs Cape Town: yogurt spiced chicken

Delicious chicken with equally delicious sides and condiments

The chicken sat on a bed of beans which matched wonderfully with the sauce.

Chefs Cape Town: chicken

Up close to the juicy, flavoursome chicken

Chefs Cape Town: carrot and coconut salad

A tower of coconutty carrot salad

The herby fish was served with triple-cooked chips, a tasty sauce, corn relish and green salad accompaniments and on a bed of asparagus. Quite a picture in shades of green.

Chefs Cape Town: herby fish

Herbed fish and a beautiful tray of green

Chefs Cape Town: fish

Close up of the herby fish and asparagus

There’s one dessert that also changes daily. Today’s we enjoyed wood-fired meringues served topped with juicy tropical fruit and berries. Lovely passion fruit and mango flavours were perfect with the soft yet crisp meringue.

Chefs Cape Town: dessert

Fruity wood-fired meringue and ice cream

Chefs Cape Town: dessert

The wonderful tropical fruit selection

This is certainly a no-frills night out. The small eating area has the feel of a cafeteria and there’s no ceremony in serving the food. Which makes it a pretty quick in and out. However, the restaurant was full, making for a lovely buzz of chatter and the chefs were friendly, helpful and welcoming. Most important of all, the food was really delicious and good value. Plus that limited choice does have its upside – less issues with menu-indecision. Does it for me.

Today’s price point

We paid R1330 (around £79 at today’s exchange rate) for four people.

That included a main course each, three desserts and two bottles of nice red wine.

Chefs is at 81 St Johns Street, Gardens, Cape Town. It’s only open Monday to Friday.

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

Classic brasserie fare at Jackson & Rye

Jackson & Rye in Wardour Street is one of those places that instantly feels comforting. I do love a classic brasserie/bar and that’s exactly what you’re getting here. With tables laid around a central bar the restaurant advertises New York-inspired food with lots of Parisian influence. See what I mean, a typical brasserie.

As well as old favourites like sole meuniere, mushroom risotto and bavette steak, there’s also a selection of delicious salads and a good range of other steaks – as you’d expect.

The starters all sounded amazing. “I could eat everything on here,” I said to my dining companion, – don’t you love that? They sounded so good in fact that we decided to share a selection so we  almost did taste everything.

First up a tasty morsel from the “For the Table” section. The brisket croquettes were served with horseradish, creme fraiche and pickled red cabbage. Beautifully rich, saucy meat encased in crispiness and perfect with the horseradish dip.

Jackson & Rye: Croquettes

Deliciously rich croquettes ready for dipping

The seared beef carpaccio was served with walnut and celery salsa, garlic aioli and shaved Parmesan. Do love a plate of carpaccio and this was a particularly good mix of flavours and textures.

Jackson & Rye: Carpaccio

Carpaccio in shades of pink and green

The salt and pepper squid was served with crispy vermicelli noodles and their house sesame and lime dressing.Jackson & Rye: calamari

Tender squid and a delightful dipping sauce

A creamy ball of burrata came with a smoky tomato relish and walnut gremolata. Perfect fresh burrata with a bit of zest and crunch in the sauce.

Jackson & Rye: Burrata

Creamy burrata and a zesty sauce

Crunchy skewered chorizo prawns came with a mango and chilli mayo. Plump prawns with a delightfully crisp coating.

Jackson & Rye: prawns

Crunchy, tasty skewered prawns

Jackson & Rye is the sort of place I can imagine become a regular haunt. I mean, how tempting does this bar look? Book me in!

Jackson & Rye: bar

The temptingly welcome central bar

Today’s price point

Five sharing plates which was plenty for two people cost £36.70.

Wine starts from £16.50 a bottle (white, rose and red).

Jackson & Rye is at 56 Wardour Street.

There are also branches in The City, Chiswick, Richmond, Kingston and Guildford.

 

Tempting takeaways at Chamberlain’s of London

Today we’re heading into the City of London (London’s financial district)  for a tasty takeaway. Chamberlain’s of London is in lovely Leadenhall Market, one of the oldest markets in London dating from the 14th century. It was originally a meat, game and poultry market and stands on what was the centre of Roman London.

The ornate green, maroon and cream roof structure was designed in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones who was also the architect of Billingsgate and Smithfields Market. It’s a unique and pleasant space, and one that I had shockingly never visited until today’s visit. Love that there’s always somewhere undiscovered to explore in London. The market is home to a range of pubs, shops and restaurants.

I did think it looked vaguely familiar despite having never been there – and then I read it was used to represent the part of London near the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. That would be why, I have seen that move more times than I’d care to admit.

Chamberlain’s of London’s four-generation family fish business started with William Stedman in 1940. He was a porter in Billingsgate market. The restaurant was opened in 2001 and the takeaway fish shop is their latest addition. The fresh cod and haddock is UK-fished (often from Peterhead in Scotland)  and comes via Billingsgate just down the road.

What’s on the menu

The menu is simple with a choice of cod and a couple of specials daily (today plaice and haddock). And then there’s all the usual extras like mushy peas, home-made tartare sauce, ketchup and vinegar and home-pickled gherkins, shallots and eggs.

You can taste that these are all made with love – and they lift the classic fish and chips, making it an even better eating experience. I love mushy peas and these were clearly made from scratch and were topped with a drizzle of mint sauce – lovely.

The home-made vinegar was distilled from beer and had a delightful sweetness and zing. And the pickles were…well, pickley. I introduced my dining companion Jules to pickled eggs for the first time and she liked them! It’s been a while since I tasted one and I can’t say I was looking forward to the experience – remembering my last encounter as not great – but I was pleasantly surprised.

The cod was particularly tasty, beautifully plump, juicy flakes in a light and crisp batter. And all the extras added up to a highly enjoyable experience.

Chamberlains: Cod

The plump piece of cod with lemon and tartar

Chamberlains: Chips

Piping hot crispy chips

Chamberlains: pickles and sauces

The array of homemade pickles and sauces

Chamberlains: cod close

Close up on the cod

Chamberlains: entrance

The welcoming entrance to the takeaway

Chamberlains: takeaways

The fish boxed up for takeaway

Chamberlain's: menu

What’s on the menu

Today’s price point

A substantial portion of cod and chips with three pickles, mushy peas, ketchup and tartare sauce will cost you £13.80.

There’s a lovely seating area outside the shop under the protective roof the Leadenhall Market.

Chamberlain’s of London is at 23-25 Leadenhall Market, London EC3V 1LR.

Breakfast delights at La Bottega di Finestra in Prague

La Bottega di Finestra

Today we’re in Prague tucking into an energy-building brekkie before embarking on a walking tour of the city.

La Bottega is a  contemporary bistro and Italian deli with a dining area at the front where they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tasty goodies on shelves and in cases surround you: bread and authentic Italian pastries baked fresh daily, home made pasta and desserts and chocolates.

At the back of the shop you’ll find fresh meat and veg daily, a fabulous array of salami, ham and cheese. And an impressive wine selection.

The breakfast menu offers old favourites and some different dishes, too. Starting with an Italian-style omelette with Fontina cheese, served with crispy bacon.

La Bottega di Finestra: omelette

Cheese omelette and crispy bacon

I went for the delightful-sounding three minute eggs in the glass with clarified butter and chives. Sort of like buttery boiled eggs without the shell – a perfect light breakfast treat.

La Bottega di Finestra: eggs in a glass

Delicate and buttery: eggs in a glass

Scrambled eggs came wrapped in marinated salmon. A classic.

La Bottega di Finestra: scrambled egg

Classic scrambled egg and smoked salmon

Or for a healthier option how about the banana omelette served with fresh fruit and greek yogurt. Novel idea!

La Bottega di Finestra: Banana omelette

An omelette of banana with fruit and yogurt

The coffee is fantastic here. Fresh and professionally made and presented. There’s also a lovely range of fresh juices – I had beetroot – sorry for not taking a picture of it. It was tasty and beautifully pink.

La Bottega di Finestra: cappuccino

Cappuccino that looks and tastes wonderful

Fresh loaves of bread are displayed on the counter to tempt you.

La Bottega di Finestra: bread

Bread is freshly baked daily

There’s a also a range of salads waiting for the lunch-time rush.

La Bottega di Finestra: salads

An array of freshly made salads

And of course traditional Italian sweetness.

La Bottega di Finestra: cakes

Tempting sweet treats in many colours

The interior is bright and contemporary with plenty of space for viewing the displays of wonderful offer and floor-to-ceiling windows giving you a great outdoor perspective, too.

La Bottega di Finestra: interior

The stylish interior lined with goodies

We liked Bottega di Finestra so much that we went back the next day. Its excellent food, friendly welcoming service and mouth-watering deli displays made it too good to resist.

Today’s price point

La Bottega is great value.

Breakfast dishes ranged from around £4-£7. A latte cost just over £2.

La Bottega di Finestra is at Platnerska 11, 11000 Praha 1