It’s Winter Menu-Palooza in the Mother City right now.
In the grand style of major cities around the world, winter and the fall season mean chefs rolling out Prix Fixe – or “fixed price” – menus.
In Cape Town, every restaurant, bistro and cafe, is thirsty for your money and company. With so many eateries aspiring to be this seasons best & most authentic – by way of unique Winter menus – Capetonians are in a privileged position.
Today’s foodie escapade, is quintessential fine dining (remastered by TSC team: chef patron Wesley Randler, the acclaimed chef Luke Dale Roberts, and his wife Sandalene) – a three-course meal, which is fantastic in its budge-friendliness.
Say hello to: The Shortmarket Club.
The restaurant experience begins outside, with the premises looking sealed off and way too exclusive for a plebian such as I.
A rustic refined walkway in – with the restaurants branding stamped into the cement – suggests a much smaller, more intimate space inside. However, the walkway going up a flight of stairs, eventually opens up to be a pseudo-traditionalist Italian-French style establishment.
The establishment is very space-conscious, and aware that their Prix Fixe Winter Lunch Menu brings large groups of hungry people, in all shapes and sizes.
Every corner of The Shortmarket Club is diligently occupied by sophisticated furnishings and fixtures.
You’d feel intimidated by the fanciness, if the classiness’s authority wasn’t somehow softened by the detached warmth and efficiency of the serving staff.
The touches of contemporary, engage the quirky European sensibility of the interior design, in a way that speaks excitingly, to the menus likely trajectory.
But what of the food, right?!
I love the idea of an three-course menu, for a fixed price of R280 a person, and R380 if you want to be within the wines.
What is really lovely about The Shortmarket Club, is that they start on a brilliant foot, when it comes to settling diners in.
Seems simple enough; but so many eateries have been known to fuck it up magnificently. This restaurant chooses to provide diners with the freshest bread – a beloved baking specialty in France – and an accompanying Olive Oil & Balsamic vinaigrette, to enjoy.
It’s crazy how The Shortmarket Club‘s particular way of making these bread rolls, result in your taste buds activating, your hunger abating, and an increase in your ability to take everything around you in.
The Amuse-Bouche the chef chose for us to have, was a lovely bite-size of Springbok Tartar with grated frozen Parmesan (frozen for the texture element), burnt onion powder, pickled shimeji mushrooms, and Ponzu & Walnut dressing.
Raw endive only makes an appearance, when the season allows.
You know what? The amuse-bouche actually tasted like Sour Cream & Chives Lays chips… and that’s an excellent taste to replicate!
My friend and I continued the starter stage of our foodscapade, with Sambal Matah Tuna Belly wallowing in hot coconut oil – necessitating preparation at the table, for the flavors to really marry immediately on your taste buds, and not settle too deep into the fish.
In addition to the oil, was: basil, taste dexterity from the red onion, along with the parsley, chili, fresh lime and Sambal oelek.
The hot coconut oil sears the tuna slightly on the more cooked side of life. The result of the sear, is that it takes away the slight ‘fresh’ element synonymous with the taste of Tartar. Flavor and definition is, thankfully, added by the coconut coming through smoothly.
Next, was the Grilled Red Roman fish.
The raw market local fish, was the most incredible thing I’ve tasted this year, unequivocally!
The perfection of how the ethically sourced fish was made, was matched only by the simplicity and excellent preparation taken for the Lemon and tarragon veloute, fried pannise, smoked mussel aioli, and green bulgur wheat.
The crisp flesh just fell of the meat, and when the wheat, pannise, veloute and aioli came together, in your mouth – MY GOD!
Rhubarb Crumble with Mascarpone Catalan, Rusk, shortbread crumble and Pine Nut Ice Cream finished this Prix Fixe Lunch Menu.
Rhubarb isn’t for everyone, but if its sweet then it is for me.
I’m sure The Shortmarket Club could have gone excessively fancy for dessert, but c’mon! Did you see the perfection of that Main Course? Shame on anyone who can find fault with concluding your taste adventure here, with a simple yumyum.
Just…just go enjoy one of the greatest lunches you’ve ever had.
What about the health nuts & vegetarians?
They’ve got you good for a fantastic, filling and unique meal, but:
“Items on this menu may, despite the best efforts and care of our kitchen staff, contain traces of allergens including, but not limited to: nuts, shellfish, soy products, eggs, dairy and wheat. (Naturally the list of allergens can be adapted to suit each individual menu and care should therefore be taken in respect to the use of different products containing allergens other than those mentioned.)” – The Shortmarket Club
What of the drinks & booze?
For this Winter Menu, you can choose from a Carafe Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc (R55.00c) or a Carafe of Paul Cluver Pinot Noir (R100)
I was very thankful to get to sip some Colmant Cap Classique Brut Rose, in toast to my recent birthday.
It was as cool as it was crisp – and not bitter, so YAY!
The Shortmarket Club get’s an all-round 9/10.
The Shortmarket Club
Monday-SaturdayLunch : 12:30-14:00
Dinner : 19:00-22:00