Salsify’s objective is to have fine dining without the snobbery. It certainly as an array of elements that usurp traditional notions of fine dining, Yes, it is situated in one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town with stunning vistas. It is nestled on the lower slopes of the 12 Apostles and has glorious sea views across Camps Bay. Yet the historical owners of the building have had rather insalubrious tastes, with one resident, a governor of The Cape more interested in Gatsby style entertaining than governing. Rather than shying away from the history, Salsify engages with it, with anachronistic graffiti and modern art counterpointed by lush leather and velvet. It is challenging and provocative.
Much like the menu, which is contemporary and stimulating yet still somehow reassuring. The tasting menu is locally and ethically sourced and seasonal even to the extent of using the micro seasons that The Cape has. Deceptively simple, yet full of flavour, the taste combinations are fresh and vibrant. As befits the location, seafood is a staple as is ultra local foraged goodies, the rumour is that the chef himself often forages for them.
Unlike some fine dining establishments the atmosphere here is laid back and chatty as opposed to formal and stuffy. When you have some of the best views on the planet it is hard not to start or end the night with a cocktail or two.
Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner with origins as far back as the ninth century Japanese Imperial Court. Kaiseki though is more than a dinner it’s an art form. Where skilled chefs balance the taste, texture, appearance, and colours of food. Dishes are beautifully arranged and garnished to reflect the mood and origin of the food. It is thought that Kaiseki was the inspiration for Nouvelle Cuisine. Only fresh seasonal ingredients are used, so that the dishes will change to reflect the season.
With a policy of using only locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, Tjing Tjing Momiji adds a South African twist while still respecting the traditions that underpin the philosophy of the Kaiseki. Depending on the season and the inspiration of the chef, you may be pleasantly surprised by dishes as varied as West Coast Oysters, Waygu Tongue and Rooibos Ice cream.
Situated in the heart of the Cape Town CBD, this tranquil and meditative space is an oasis of calm and contemplation. It is an experience not to be rushed, instead savouring is the order of the day. Savouring the food, the atmosphere, the creativity and the passion that it takes to bring traditional Japanese fine cuisine to Cape Town and by doing so revitalising ancient customs and of course, your taste buds too.
Afterwards, if the evening desires a suitable nightcap, on the top floor is Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar, a cool and funky Japanese shrine-inspired bar that has a terrace that opens to the stars.
To call Luke Dale Robert’s gastronomic offerings fine dining is almost to give them a disservice. Sure the meticulously chosen ingredients are exquisite, the combinations delightful and the food delicious, though there is so much more going on here than just a dinner. To badly paraphrase Scotty, it is food Jim, but not as we know it. The 10-course Gourmand Menu is a culinary exploration that by constant reinvention has embedded The Test Kitchen as top of all critics’ lists and is seen as the must-do restaurant in Cape Town. The menu literally takes you round the world, with taste thrills from far afield as Scotland, Korea and Ethiopia, before coming back home to South Africa. It really is the journey not the destination.
The setting goes beyond complimenting the food. Its current incarnation is the dark room and the light room, one intimate, shrouded in magic and mystery, the other enthralling, where the favours burst out in unashamed joy.
With only 40 guests a night, booking is more than essential, you really should book before you leave on your trip.
Cape Town was founded on food. Back in the 17th Century, the Dutch East India company established a halfway station in Table Bay with the sole purpose of providing fresh water, vegetables, and meat for passing ships. Its fertile soil soon led to the cultivation of an array of vegetables, fruits and enchanting wines. Fast forward to the 21st century it’s no surprise that Cape Town is home to some of the finest dining options in Africa and the world. In the latest Eat Out dinning awards no fewer than 17 out of the 20 fine dining restaurants in South Africa are in Cape Town or its neighbouring wine regions. This week we have selected three that will tickle your taste buds and take them on a culinary adventure. Of course fine dining is not cheap, but these are priceless experiences and compared to similar establishments in the rest of the world, your wallet will be pleasantly surprised.