Getting a moment to escape the stifling office environment during the week, is always a treat for my poor vibrant soul.
Yesterday I hightailed it out of my office during my lunch break; and took a walk from the central business district of Cape Town, to the somewhat chilled atmosphere of Gardens.
Side-stepping afternoon peak traffic, energetic sticky primary schoolers exiting school, and yoga-loving moms between daily pick-ups, I made it to Chefs Cape Town.
Its a little different…a little whole-in-the-wall’y…a little thin on menu options – but it’s working with something we’ll all come to embrace, with a little guidance.
Chefs in Cape Town, is a restaurant operating on the model of ‘fast fine’ meals. Here’s how it works:
Chefs cuts down on the cost of restaurant labor – while maintaining service touch-points – through hungry crowds ordering from only three fine dining meal options offered daily, and paying at the counter (on a mounted tablet located in the front-end of the restaurant, with someone standing ready to walk you through the system).
Seems kind of casual if it involves counter ordering, right?!
…But this is the hybridization of fine dining experiences currently underway globally; and rather a refreshingly efficient option for good food delivered fast to your tumtum! It is rare for people to be able to invest so much time in traditional fine dining, so this ‘fast fine’ dining experience is likely to be a model eventually adopted by many restaurants, cafes and bistros in Cape Town, in the same way San Francisco & New York restaurants have adapted.
Chefs team of chefs see, and greet you, from their open kitchen domain where cooking your high quality grub happens swiftly and cleanly, while you just head on over to an available table you do not need a GPS and hostess to walk you to.
Just to clarify: When your ass hits the chair, you do have an attentive attendee catering to your dining experience – I was never without water & beverages, or conversation from Chef’s manager Campbell, and my individual, acclaimed head chef Jenny. If you desire it to be so, more food & drink can be ordered, as you eat your way through the light but filling meal options.
Chefs just ditched restaurant formality for counter service. Unlike other traditional, fast and casual spots in Cape Town, Chefs do not have their diners pay their bills at their table, upon the meals conclusion.
Cape Town is a lifestyle city – get used to living in its motif!
Chef knows what it’s doing through the offer of seasonal and local ingredients in healthier packaging, but without those pesky wait times and hectic price tags (the frills on some restaurants bills are probably for gourmet oxygen and alien-invasion prevention for sure! How else are they justifying those prices? ) enacted in the establishments of their upscale competitors.
So simple, and funny how my food was brought to me in a bespoke Chefs tray – reminiscent of American high schools lunch trays.
Balsamic Mustard Wood-roasted sirloin with mixed exotic mushrooms, and a side of: triple-cooked chips, and a leafy salad with baby gem, celeriac, parmesan and raw almonds. Don’t forget the dipping things: whipped mustard creme and rocket pesto.
The sirloin gets a heartfelt 9/10 from me, because each mouthful was a morsel of well-made tasty gratification. The medium rare, wood-roasting of the sirloin provided succulent meat, saturated with heady flavoring manifesting from the balanced combination of balsamic mustard and exotic mushrooms cooked into the meat.
The salad’s only “meh!” moment was its dressing. It was a little tart among the other elegantly melded flavors.
Chips dipped in rocked pesto or the whipped mustard creme = Yes! That. Is. All.
One serving of Caramel crunch ice cream with the chefs peanut butter oreo.
Of course my sweet-tooth gives it a solid 8/10.
If you shift aside the caramel crunch and the peanut butter oreo, those who have no affinity for sweetness will enjoy the dining conclusion that comes with eating the simple, creamy ice cream.
What about the vegetarians?
Chefs prepares a menu of only three meal options daily: A meal containing meat or fish, a vegetarian meal and a lighter meal.
What of the drinks & booze?
Chefs has a liquor license, and offers a choice of: red wine, white wine, rose wine, or our beer on tap with your meal.
Filtered still, or sparkling water, is included with all meals.
I am partial to having their strong coffee with the peanut butter oreo cookie from dessert.
You’re likely to return to work alert and pleased, so Chefs Cape Town get’s an all-round 8/10.
They don’t distract you from the food with inconsequential interior decor. Their interiors are so minimalist, they border on clinical. It is the look and taste of the food, as well as the mix of millennials, tourists, urbanites and older visitors, that provide lively vitality to Chefs white and blue thematic.
“Most people don’t want to stop what they are doing and sit down and eat for two hours and be at the mercy of a server who might not want to bring the check or the wine when you want it…They don’t want the ceremony of it anymore. They want more control over their experience.” – Bret Thorn , Nation’s Restaurant News senior food and beverage editor
81 St John’s Street
Gardens, Cape Town
Mon-Fri: 12pm – 8pm