Birthday dinner on the balcony at NV80 in Sea Point

We’ve been returning to stay in Sea Point for eight years now and it’s been wonderful to see the area blossom. We now have such an array of lovely restaurants easy walking distance from us that it seems like we should be going out all the time. It would be wrong not to, really.

So tonight to celebrate Terry’s birthday we headed to our local steakhouse in the shiny new shopping centre called The Point in Sea Point’s Regent Road.

I’m not a huge fan of restaurants in shopping centres. But NV80 has been done so well that as soon as you walk in, you no longer feel like you’re in one. Plus it has a lovely wide balcony, just perfect for the balmy February night we were there. Always love a bit of alfresco dining.

Oyster heaven

I love oysters and at NV80 you can have them three different ways. Plain, with Bloody Mary jelly or Vietnamese dressing. Beautifully fresh with amazing toppings, the Vietnamese ones are my favourite oysters ever. I do love the flavours of Vietnam.

Tasty oysters at NV80 in Sea Point

Tasty oysters to dream about

The Trinchado is pan-fried cubes of lean fillet of beef saved with a tangy lightly spiced sauce. The tenderest of fillet that melted in the mouth and a lovely zingy sauce. And not a small portion of it either – seriously, it’s almost main course size.

Tender trinchado at NV80 in Sea Point

Tender trinchado in a silken sauce

As well as their steak specialities, NV80 also has a good selection of fish and seafood. The salmon teriyaki was grilled and marinated in teriyaki and served with mash and drizzled with sweet soya and sesame dressing. A beautifully presented dish with great flavour and textures.

Succulent salmon at NV80 in Sea Point

Succulent salmon nestles on creamy mash

NV80’s steaks are fabulous and the king of them all (in my opinion) is the sirloin steak on the bone. I always have a bit of a debate in my head before ordering it – because it is HUGE – 600g. Way more than I can eat in one sitting! But the good news is that the restaurant has a doggy bag at the ready and I joyfully took home my leftovers. And as a result I could make a lovely Vietnamese salad (I know, we’re back in Vietnam!) for dinner. So three meals in one really. Recipe coming soon.

It’s a legendary steak this one, mouth-wateringly flavoursome. I probably shouldn’t bother looking at the menu and debating choices, I know it’s the way I’m going to go ultimately.

Giant sirloin at NV80 in Sea Point

My super-big sirloin on the bone

Also love a bit of creamed spinach and it goes especially well with steak.

Creamed spinach at NV80 in Sea Point

Luscious creamed spinach to accompany

As well as the lovely food, there’s such a great buzz about NV80 with its background of animated chatter and laughter. And the service is wonderfully welcoming, friendly and informed. When we left it seemed like half the restaurant thanked us for coming and hoped we’d had a good evening. We really had. Can’t beat that wonderful Sea Point hospitality.

Today’s price point

We paid R626 for our food tonight. That’s about £38 at today’s exchange rate.

NV80 is on the first floor of The Point at 76 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town.

What is your favourite restaurant in Sea Point? Do get in touch and let me know.

 

 

Our lovely Sea Point local: La Perla

I love staying on the seafront in Sea Point. There’s so much to love. Sea views from the balcony, lovely promenade walks breathing in the sea air, meandering down Main Road for daily shopping and restaurant visits and of course the people. It’s such a wonderfully diverse area full of people from all walks of lives, in different shapes and sizes and of so many different nationalities.  And there’s always something happening and, inevitably, being discussed – from the price of eggs to who caused that car accident yesterday. How I love the constant Sea Point chatter, you soon feel like you have endless friends.

It’s very easy to slip into the life of a Sea Point local. And as a compulsory part of that life (I’ve decided anyway) you have to make regular visits to La Perla. It’s one of only two restaurants right on Beach Road (it’s mainly apartmentland around here), so it has lovely sea views and is the perfect spot to watch the Sea Point action unfolding.

La Perla has been open about 55 years (not sure of the exact opening date but I do remember that it’s older than me). And I’m  not sure how much has changed in that time. I think some of the waiters may have been at the opening. Service can be somewhat ponderous or too fast – unpredictability is the name of the game. So bear this in mind and go with the flow or you could be in for a somewhat frustrating meal. You can slow down too-fast service and if it’s too slow just relax and enjoy the atmosphere. No one ever truly suffered from taking too long over lunch. Did they??

The menu is classic Italian with a lovely selection of pasta, fish, seafood, salads and veal dishes. Sea Point is veal land, supermarkets are packed with myriad cuts of it, so if you love veal you can’t go wrong ordering it at La Perla.

Their carpaccio is also wonderful and comes in beef, salmon and tuna versions. I enjoyed one of the beef dishes several times through the Sea Point summer. It’s beef carpaccio with a mustard mayonnaise sauce to dream about, rocket and capers. A fabulously salty/sweet combo with melt-in-the-mouth meat.

Carpaccio

Delightfully delicately sliced carpaccio with a sweet mustard mayonnaise

Here’s the salmon version, served with a spicy Asian-style sauce.

IMG_1136

Oysters are often on my lunchtime agenda, my love for these treasures is well documented. The perfect starter – light, healthy and tasty – I just can’t get enough of them.

Today's La Perla oysters came from Namibia. Yum.

Today’s La Perla oysters came from Namibia. Yum.

As you’d expect from a restaurant that’s been around over five decades there are some [retro] classics on the menu. Like prawn cocktail which can be ordered with or without avocado. If you go with it comes packed into avo halves.

Avo

Classic prawn cocktail served in creamy avocados

If you’re not an avo lover, order it without and this lovely glassful of plump prawns appears.

Happiness is...prawn cocktail in a glass

Happiness is…prawn cocktail in a glass

There’s also a classic caprese salad to savour.

The combo of three tasty ingredients makes for a delectable starter

The combo of three tasty ingredients makes for a delectable starter

All the veal dishes are delightful. The veal marsala is so tender you barely have to chew it, the sauce is silken and slightly sweet and it’s served with a generous portion of fresh, perfectly cooked pasta. Just heavenly.

Veal tenderness in a luscious sauce

Veal tenderness in a luscious sauce

The veal involtini is also a firm favourite. Little envelopes of veal are generously stuffed with cheese and served with a fragrant tomato sauce and fresh pasta. Oh so satisfying.

Cheesy, tomatoey veal that melts in the mouth

Cheesy, tomatoey veal that melts in the mouth

There’s always the line fish of the day and when it’s kingklip I often order it. This sweet, fleshy whitefish is perfect grilled and served with La Perla’s lemon butter and some vegetables.

Kingklip

Chunky grilled kingklip with lemony butter

More tender veal served with a rich porcini sauce.

Delight in the earthy mushroom flavours with veal porcini

Delight in the earthy mushroom flavours

I’ve only ever done dessert once at La Perla. I was talked into sharing a Peppermint Crisp tart because I’d never tasted one before and because it’s a South African classic. Made using the Peppermint Crisp bar which I remember delighting over in my childhood, it’s sweet, minty and properly indulgent.

Taste something traditionally South African – peppermint crisp tart

Taste something traditionally South African – peppermint crisp tart

A bit like the many hours I spent lingering over lunch at La Perla. Sparkling sunshine days when I felt happy to be alive. Here’s the view through some pink bubbles. La Perla, I raise my glass to you.

Views of pink and blue and palm trees

Views of pink and blue and palm trees

La Perla is on Beach Road, Sea Point opposite the public swimming pools.

Indian tapas at Sundoo in Sea Point

Today we’re back in the main road in Sea Point. Yes, I know we do spend a lot of time eating there. Sundoo is a new addition to Sea Point’s restaurantland which serves Indian tapas.

I love Indian food and am partial to the tapas-style way of eating so I was excited to sample our latest local. The restaurant opens up to the street and is light-filled with a cool, contemporary feel. Two rows of stools at the front are arranged along a shelf on the pavement, the perfect place to settle in for some people watching in the activity of this buzzy street. And for some seriously tasty food.

The first section offers a selection of mini rotis and mini bunny chows. I’m a bit of a fan of mini anything in the food world! On our first visit we tried the trio of lamb rotis. Among the best lamb I’ve ever tasted, so beautifully tender, rich and perfectly spiced with a nice chilli bite, served on top of beautifully buttery rotis. How I wish I could cook lamb like this at home – only one thing for it, ask if the chef could give us a hint of her ingredients (if not the whole recipe). She hails from Durban, the home of the best Indian food in South Africa and clearly knows her stuff. But she’s not parting with any of that knowledge – even to the owner of the restaurant I was told. All her recipes are being kept firmly secret in her head. Fair enough.

lambroti

A lamb dish I’ll eat over and over

Also in the starter section on the first page were these spicy prawn bites. Again the balance of flavours was exceptional.

prawns

Pretty, crispy prawn bites

On our second lunchtime visit the lamb hadn’t been delivered yet, so we opted for the chicken rotis (good idea to try everything on the menu anyway). Again it was spectacular, those wonderfully rounded flavours that you can only achieve with exactly the right combination and quantity of spices.

chicken

The spicy chicken roti trio

There’s also a page of curries which you can order in full or half portions. I love that, the halves work perfectly as light lunch dishes. Our waiter recommended we try the Pondicherry kingklip. I’m a big fan of the local white fish and was pleased to see how well it works in a curry. The chunky fillets were simmered in fresh tomato, garlic, spring onion, coriander and tamarind root for a beautifully silken sauce with bite.

kingklip

Kingklip makes for a great fish curry

The Kavarati chicken is braised with fennel, cumin and a blend of garum masala. A chicken curry that’s now right up there as a firm favourite.

chicken curry

Tender Kavarati chicken and rice

You can choose your heat for each dish, from medium, hot or vindaloo. We’ve gone medium and that’s plenty enough for me. There’s also a selection of dishes from the clay oven but they’re are only available at dinner.

You can tell that all the dishes have been prepared with love and care by someone whose knowledge of cooking Indian food is phenomenal. Which is why there are usually long queues in the evening (the restaurant doesn’t take bookings). And obviously why the chef’s not parting with her spectacular recipes. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep going back and let her keep doing the cooking.

sundoo

A dry rose is a great combination with the spices

Sundoo is at 77 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town. It’s just across the road from another favourite La Mouette, which you can read about by clicking here.

Double dinner at our lovely Sea Point local: La Mouette

We love staying in the Sea Point area in Cape Town. The two big roads for the area run parallel to each other. On the one side Beach Road takes you along the oceanside with palm trees aplenty and the sparkling azure sea alongside the well-walked Sea Point promenade. One road back is Main Road, home to a collection of shops, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, ice cream parlours, yoga studios, beauticians…well pretty much everything. We have a saying that if you’re looking for something (anything) you will find it in Main Road. It’s always buzzing with activity.

And one of our very favourite spots is La Mouette, a friendly restaurant that we discovered in 2010 when it first opened that we visit every year several times. I’ve also sent plenty of friends visiting from the UK to taste their amazing food. It is really amazing, and as is often the case in Cape Town for those of us lucky enough to have pound sterling in our pockets, it’s great value for what is a creative and delicious fine dining experience. You sit in their lovely courtyard surrounded by twinkling lights in the trees and breathe in the balmy sea air. I love the relaxed atmosphere and friendly, enthusiastic service.

Today’s post is a conglomeration of two visits with different parties of friends. I don’t have pictures of everything to share with you (and it was a lot of things) as some of them just didn’t come out well enough, (hey, that happens) but don’t worry there’s still plenty to feast your eyes on.

On our first night we went for the tasting menu. The whole table has to agree to this as it’s six courses and obviously if some are going a la carte your dining experience is going to be somewhat out of sync. It’s great to have a night where fabulous plates of food keep coming and there’s very little decision making involved.

Your first three courses are set and you then have a choice of three dishes for courses four and five and two for dessert.

First up was the combination of summer snacks. Three plates of clever concoctions arrive for the table to share – cured linefish with celeriac, beetroot thoran ravioli, cashews and coconut and red onion bhajis with dukkah mayonnaise. Offering a pleasing mix of colours, textures and flavours, it set us up perfectly for what’s to come next.

Our second offering was a wonderful vichyssoise, ideal for a warm summer’s night, packed with plump, juicy mussels and sprinkled with pickled apple, semi dried grapes and curry oil.

The Heirloom tomato salad comes with buffalo mozzarella, basil ice and a little jug of onion essence which your waiter pours over the vibrancy of the tomatoes. A guess a different version of a Caprese, it’s just the sort of summery starter a tomato lover like me dreams of. And boy that onion essence. Light, cooling, refreshing and slightly sweet it brings out all those tomatoey flavours. This starter is so good I ordered it both times….and the good news is you obviously get a bigger portion when you go a la carte. And I’d order it again without hesitation.

tomato

Chef Henri’s take on the classic that is Caprese

Course number four is from a choice of three delights. The glazed pork belly is served with turnip spaghetti carbonara, cured egg yolk and sage beurre noisette.

porkbelly

Tender pork belly on a bed of creamy turnips

The tuna carpaccio came with black garlic mayonnaise, umami dressing and ashed cucumber. How exotic does that sound? Looked and tasted beautiful, too. Loved that mayonnaise.

tuna

The vegetarian option was pea and barley risotto with puffed barley, shaved asparagus, pickled kohlrabi, fromage blanc and watercress pesto.

risotto

A creamy plate of greenness

And then on to course five, again a choice of three. The roasted line fish came with tomato fondue, fennel, carrot fondant, smoked aubergine puree and sauce bourride. Today’s linefish was beautifully sweet sea bass.

linefish

Fresh fish with a plate of delightful combinations

The duck dish came with hay smoked beets, pine nuts, glazed mushrooms, cherries, wood sorrel and twigs. The yummiest of tender duck slices, beautifully sweet beets and lovely smokey flavours.

duck2

Another great duck dish to enjoy

The third main option on the tasting menu was called barbecue sweetcorn. Sounded intriguing and the combo of chimichurri, sweetcorn polenta, burnt onion ketchup and pea shoot tempura was exceptional. Who knew that pea shoot tempura would taste so good?

sweetcorn

A sweet and crunchy vegetarian dish to savour

Okay, so moving away from that fabulous tasting menu here are some other options that you can pick if you go a la carte.

For me this starter is La Mouette’s signature dish. If it’s your first visit, just order a portion for the table while you’re pondering your choices. The beautifully cheesy, truffley croquettes melt in your mouth with a burst of earthy flavours to follow.

croquettes

The beef sirloin comes with a crunchy, cheesy smoked gruyere crust, onions, watercress and this amazing cottage pie in a jar. I love food served in jars! It looks fabulous and it’s not what you’re expecting as it’s not minced beef but beautifully flavoured slivers of pulled beef. Topped with lovely mash. Actually a dish on its own, though I did also love the sirloin/gruyere partnership.

cottage pie

Cottage pie in a jar, simply wonderful

The pan fried hake was a popular choice at our table. Served with sweetcorn sauce, tomato, ricotta tortellini and a tempura courgette flower

hake

A classic South African fish served with a twist

There were several dessert options, the most popular of which was the mascarpone ice cream, with coffee granita, almond sponge, dehydrated chocolate and amaretto gel.

mascarpone

A tasty mix of sweetness and crunchiness

Phew, that was a lot of food, but before you comment along those lines remember it was two dinners and a lot of people, too. The good news is that I feel like I’ve sampled the whole menu. Perhaps that’s because I have.

Happiness is a great local restaurant less than five minutes walk away.

La Mouette is at 78 Regent Road, on the corner of Main Road in Sea Point, Cape Town.

Our newest local in Sea Point: NV-80

It’s always a joy to have good restaurants on your doorstep. And in Sea Point in Cape Town, the main road is buzzing with a range of places to eat. Five minutes walk away from where we’re staying is a newly completed shopping centre called The Point. Gleaming tiles and shiny windows welcome you and there are plenty of shopping opportunities, most significantly one of my favourite shops in the world – Dischem. It’s a discount chemist (South African shops often have the most literal of names, just so you’re not confused about what’s going to be on offer). I can (and do) spend hours in there and never come out empty handed!

Almost directly opposite the wondrous Dischem is a sparkling new restaurant called NV-80. Our friend Heath, who lives locally, described it as having the best steaks in Cape Town, rather a large statement and one that simply had to be put to the test.

It’s called NV-80 after the Goncalves brothers Naldo and Victor (NV, see) and 80 is a reference to the 80s when the duo began in the restaurant business. The venue is sleek and contemporary with a lovely, large balcony.

The Thursday night we dined there, the place was heaving. Obviously this new addition to Sea Point’s restaurantland has been enthusiastically welcomed by the locals. As well as all manner of steaks, the menu offers a range of seafood and salad dishes.

Large, juicy king prawns came in a delicious sauce of chilli and garlic – the sort of sauce you want to spoon into your mouth when the prawns have been polished off.

prawn starater

Stunning prawns make this starter a delight

A large plate of carpaccio came scattered deep fried shallots and parmesan and drizzled with truffle dressing.

carpaccio

Tender carpaccio to savour

Bearing in mind that we were here for a serious steak sampling, most of the table tucked into steak in various forms. It’s aged Chalmar beef – choose your cut and how you like it cooked and a glistening (and substantial) steak is placed in front of you.

ribeye

A substantial piece of ribeye

There’s also an impressive range of seafood available like this lovely platter of prawns.

prawn mains

If steak’s not your thing, tuck into seafood

And then there’s the sirloin on the bone. Amazingly flavoursome and tender, the ultimate carniverous treat. Okay, it’s rather large but no one said you had to eat it all at once. When I’d had my fill, I happily carried the remains home and in fact I’m having it for dinner tonight in a spicy Thai salad I’ve created (watch this space for the recipe).

sirloin

Sirloin on the bone, a serious treat for meat lovers

You’ll also find tasty salads for the non-meat eaters, like this caramelised pear and gorgonzola combo with honey and mustard dressing.

salad

If meat’s not your thing there are tasty salads to tuck into

I was also aware of the freshly shucked West coast oysters on offer. I’m thinking of a Champagne and oyster extravaganza on the balcony for a lunchtime treat. You’ve got to plan ahead, that’s part of the pleasure of eating, after all.

Welcome to your new Sea Point home Naldo and Victor. And thanks Heath for the local knowledge.

NV-80 is at 76 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town.

The joy of a Sunday lunch at La Mouette

As you can imagine, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is: “What’s your favourite restaurant?”. My usual response: “That’s an impossible question to answer…it depends on your mood, the weather, what you ate the day before…a whole menu of reasons that prevent me from sticking my neck out and naming one particular eatery. Having said that, my reasons are totally justified and it does depend…on a whole bunch of things. But today I’m going to get off my restaurant fence and say it: La Mouette is my favourite restaurant in Cape Town!

Situated just around the corner from where we’re staying in Sea Point, this fabulous local eatery opened in 2010 and we visit several times every year. It has a lovely courtyard, friendly welcoming service and a chef called Henry Vigar who is totally genius. This year it was named in the top-20 restaurants in South Africa in the Eat Out awards which is quite some achievement – it’s a country abounding in fabulous places to eat.

I always get a feeling of excitement and anticipation leading up to a La Mouette visit. Today we went for lunch for the first time (it’s only open for Sunday lunch) and it was beautiful to sit under huge umbrellas on a perfect, sunny Sea Point day. The menu was full of intriguing choices…and once we’d ordered (which took serious concentration and consideration) we were presented with a beautiful plate from the chef. This salmon gravalax with mango and fennel was wonderfully light and refreshing, the perfect start to a summer lunch. We all really loved the plates and wanted to take them home!

gravalax

A beautiful gift from the chef to get us started

I’d been desperate to taste this take on vichyssoise since seeing it posted on facebook. Such a clever idea – smoked leeks, leek ash, crispy potatoes and a leek and potato panna cotta. Served in a plump glass, the softly creamy panna cotta was perfectly complemented by the delightfully crispy strips of potato.

vicchysoise

Vicchyssoise like you’ve never tasted before

When I go out with a group of people I always seem to award a prize (in my head) for the best order of the day – not that I’m saying eating out is any sort of competition! It’s more a way of me mentally filing the dishes to order on my return. So here it is, the winning starter – the amazing roast pork dinner starter with triple cooked potatoes, mustard, pickled turnips, apple and fennel. The tenderest of pork packed with flavour with beautiful morsels of crackling. My mouth is watering just writing about it.

pork

A roast pork dinner starter – totally inspired

And then there’s the tuna. Grilled with a tamarind glaze, raisin puree, crispy cauliflower and a carrot and cauliflower emulsion. A fabulous combo of textures and flavours with wonderfully rare fresh tuna.

tuna

The most amazing of tuna starters

La Mouette’s truffle and cheese croquettes are legendary. Impossible to resist, so when no one ordered these little balls of delight I had to push the boat out and order a portion for the table. The dish has been adapted recently and now comes with mushroom pesto, grilled asparagus, truffle dressing and shaved parmesan. Wow! The most amazing of dishes is now even better. If you go to La Mouette you have to order them, treat yourself to an extra dish…you won’t regret it.

croquettes

The legendary truffle and cheese croquettes

This cornucopia of lamb from Namibia was stupendous. Loin, croquette and sweetbreads were served with chickpea puree, pistacchio crumble, shanklish, apricot and saffron.

lamb

A plateful of lamb delights to enjoy

The Franschhoek trout was a picture of pink and green and served with pea mousseline, beetroot, horseradish foam, smoked potatoes and goats cheese croquettes.

trout

Gotta love the flavours and colours of summer

Today I think I won the (virtual) prize for best main course. The beef ribeye came with the sweetest of onion chutney, amazing crushed, herby potatoes, parmesan crumble, truffle emulsion, a black pepper crust and tomato foam. The beautifully tender beef, pepper crust and the wonderfully truffly sauce was a match made in heaven. One that I devoured with gusto. Despite a range of tempting dishes on the menu I would totally order this again on my next visit!

beef

An amazingly indulgent dish with melt-in-the-mouth beef

What can I say? La Mouette’s food seems to get better and better, the presentation is amazing as you can see from these show-stopping pictures and (which does put it in a fine dining league of its own), it is fabulously good value. The six-course tasting menu is £295 (about £17), starters are R65-R70 (about £4) and mains R155-R185 (about £9-£11). I can’t imagine you’ll get better value anywhere – so much so one of our table thought the prices on the menu had to be a mistake. There’s no mistaking this is one fine restaurant…and now it’s officially my favourite in the Mother City…for now anyway (sorry I just can’t get completely off that fence).

What is your favourite restaurant in Cape Town? Or anywhere else in the world? I’d love to hear all about it from you.

La Mouette is at 78 Regent Street, Sea Point, Cape Town.