Dining in style – 5 special occasion restaurants you shouldn’t miss when visiting Cape Town

What I had been told about Cape Town was that you could enjoy a Michelin Star menu for a fraction of the price you would pay in London and despite knowing this, I still couldn’t believe the quality we enjoyed for the price we paid.

For Sophie and I, taster menus are something we opt for whenever in a restaurant we class as fine dining. Rather than a 2 hour meal, you get an experience which normally lasts 3-4 hours where there are plenty of nice surprises and invariably, you try things you haven’t tried before. Normally, when at home in London we would only visit these kind of restaurants for each other’s birthdays but when in Cape Town, with all the options available, we were like two kids in a candy shop. Whilst we expected Cape Town to offer this, we had no idea how much it would fuel our addiction, it has an abundance of taster menu options, so much so that by the end of the trip we joked that just wanted to experience a regular short meal.

I have included my favourite fine dining experiences below:

Test Kitchen

We were so happy we booked this as we had been told by so many friends, that we HAD to go here despite none of them being able to ever get a booking but they had just heard it was amazing. Sophie woke up at an ungodly hour (probably actually the time I used to go to work!) to call them and book, and even then they only had availability for one of the nights in our whole trip, and there were only bar tables left.

If we had to choose, I think we would say this was our favourite restaurant in Cape Town, both in terms of the food and the experience itself. When you arrive, you are take into the “Light Room” and you are told that this part of the experience will last 45 minutes and that you will be sampling dishes from across the globe. You are then given a map detailing the route of where you will be taking your culinary adventure; from Scotland to Japan, along with a detailed explanation from our eccentric waiter. This guy was brilliant, he included and remembered the tiniest details for each dish and communicated it in a way that was so entertaining that I struggled to keep a straight face.

After this highly entertaining and delicious portion of our experience, we were taken to the main part of the restaurant, into “The Dark Room” where the rest of the evening would be spent. Despite being told this part would be slower paced, this did not at all reduce the level of entertainment and surprises from the waiters, nor did the did it take away from the taste of the food, it was unbelievable. We were given an expansive menu and were asked to choose between certain options and to decide whether we would do wine pairing or not. Unfortunately, given my recent stem cell treatment, I had to pass on the wine and Sophie stuck to cocktails but this also looked like it would be a really good option and I vowed to do it when we return! After tucking into our second (yes second) desert course, we checked our watches and we had been there for almost 4 hours, we were convinced it had only been 2 hours! In the time we were there we tasted beef sweetbread, tuna, springbok, trout, the list goes on… and that’s not even scratching the surface so make sure you have a small lunch! Even upon realising how late it was, we were sad to leave and wanted to book in again, unfortunately you have to book 3 months in advance so this wasn’t possible!

Book in advance? DEFINITELY – 3 months in advance on the 1st of the month and people are waiting at 8am when their online booking opens so be prepared for a scramble, please check the website for more details.

Expect to pay at least: (without wine pairing) – 150 USD (for two)

http://www.thetestkitchen.co.za 

La Colombe

La Colombe is located in the picturesque region of Constantia and we were lucky enough to pull up to our reservation as the sun was setting so we could witness another stunning South African sunset. As soon as we walked in, we realised that this was the definition of true fine dining, the decor and the layout of the restaurant is pristine and I was glad Sophie convinced me to wear shoes, not trainers. I had been so used to Cape Town being incredibly relaxed in terms of dress code, I forgot that I might need to dress up for this one!

As with Test Kitchen, this was a taster menu and the waiter we had for the evening was a pleasure to be around. He was able to regurgitate and huge amount of detail around each dish and wine, it was impressive. The food was delicious and each small course was timed impeccably; we were even taken away for our 5th course to the mad hatters tea party where we met the mad hatter himself! Here we were given a gin and tonic (they gave me a virgin cocktail 🙁 ) and we watched the highly entertaining mad hatter perform whilst we ate our 5th course, before returning to our table.

Again, the night was a long one but it really didn’t feel like that, we loved lour night there and will definitely go back upon our return to Cape Town.

Book in advance? Definitely  – 2 months in advance

Expect to pay at least: (without wine pairing) – 240 USD (for two people)

https://www.lacolombe.co.za/welcome 

Azure

This restaurant is based in the 12 Apostles Hotel; we were staying here for a night and so luckily we were able to get a booking. They have a taster menu as well as a normal menu and whilst I LOVE taster menus, I was so tired at the time, we each opted for their ostrich steak as a main course which was so tender, I didn’t really even need a steak knife.

We stared enviously at those who opted for the taster menu, but that is only due to our consistent cases food-envy we regularly get; we were actually incredibly happy with our choice!

If you have a table booked at Azure, it’s definitely worth arriving early and having a drink at sunset on their stunning terrace. We had an aperitif of champagne (for Sophie) and oysters watching the sunset with live music playing, an ideal way to start the evening.

Book in advance? 2 weeks in advance would be advisable.

Expect to pay at least: (without wine pairing) – 80 – 130 USD (for two)

https://www.12apostleshotel.com/food-and-drink/azure-restaurant?sc_lang=en

Roundhouse

The Roundhouse is located perfectly near Camps Bay Beach and Clifton Beach and after reading a blog about the sunsets at the outside bar they have there, we made sure to get there for 6.30pm so enjoy a few drinks before dinner, it was well worth it and a must if you have a reservation.

This was another taster menu and we were impressed with the attention to detail with each course that was brought out. As per their menu, their food is a gentle balance between French bistro style cooking, fine dining and heart warming gastro style fare – this really sums it up really well and I think they achieve this balance perfectly. My favourite course was ostrich, so much so that I considered ordering it again but Sophie reminded me that we weren’t in McDonalds! They have a 5 and 8 course menu and so we typically opted with the latter, gorging ourselves into a food coma until it was time to go home.

Book in advance? I would say a week in advance to be safe

Expect to pay at least: (without wine pairing) – 150 USD (for two)

https://theroundhouserestaurant.com

La Mouette

Before Sophie arrived in Cape Town, I had stayed in Sea Point for a while and I just loved the place, it had yoga, a Spanish school, unbelievable coffee places and 2 vegan restaurants that I ate most of my meals at (I refused to cook when the food was so cheap!).

It was on my walks up and down the Main Street than I kept going past La Mouette. Amongst all of the cool coffee shops, it kind of stood out (in a good way) and the building itself with its quaint courtyard lured me in and so I booked us a table without consulting Sophie, I knew she would like it!

Like with the Azure, there was a normal menu alongside a taster menu and we went for the 6 course menu which meant that the courses were a little bigger but still amazing quality.

Given that I was able to book this at fairly short notice, I think that that this is a great option in terms of the quality of meal you will have without having to commit months ahead.

Book in advance? Again, a week in advance should be fine

Expect to pay at least: (without wine pairing) – 80 USD (for two)

http://www.lamouette-restaurant.co.za

*****I haven’t included the Pot Luck (which is the sister restaurant of Test Kitchen) as I guess it can’t be classed as “fine dining” but this was amazing and just as good as any of the fine dining options. It offers high-end Tapas and my only suggestion is book a cab home because I ate myself into severe tiredness, the food was that good – therefore driving home was tough!*****

http://thepotluckclub.co.za

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