In response to innumerable requests and relentless pressure (thanks to the FIFA World Cup), I have finally given in and decided to publish my top restaurants in Cape Town. Let us accept from the outset that this is a deeply flawed exercise. But here are my top choices. The criteria is quite simple: when it is not an assignment, where do I keep returning time and again? These are the places I take my overseas friends when they visit; the places that when I just think about their food, I want to jump in my car and go there.
Note: The scope of this list did not include the many fine restaurant in the winelands and surrounds.
1. Bombay Brasserie, Taj Hotel, Wale Street, CBD. My current favourite. Exquisite Indian fine dining; food that you get pleasure thinking about for days afterwards.
2. Nobu, One and Only, Waterfront. The only reasonable excuse to go down to the V&A precinct. Sit at the sushi counter and watch the superb chefs prepare the highest quality.
3. Anatole, Napier Street, Green Point. This Turkish restaurant is my longest standing favourite dining place in Cape Town. I have been coming here since I was a schoolboy and the quality hasn’t flagged. The meze tray is better than you’ll find in Istanbul.
4. Cape Malay Kitchen, Cellars Hohenhort, Constantia. Chef Martha Williams is unrivalled in South Africa for Cape Malay food. She has taken traditional Cape cuisine to previously unknown heights.
5. Savoy Cabbage, Hout Street, CBD. Out of Cape Town’s fine dining classic restaurants, this is one of the best options. 6. Jardine (Bree Street) is ahead of them in terms of food, but hasn’t quite got the ambience. I still find myself coming here, though Jardine scores higher on food.
7. Haiku, Church Street, Cape Town. I love the food at this the best of our Asian fusion kitchens. I feel at home in the place and with the staff, but the noise levels get to me, which makes it only suitable for early dinners (6:30pm) and for a table of four maximum.
8. Bhukara, Church Street, Cape Town. Nothing like the Bomabay Brasserie (where you cannot just pop in), here the curries are delicious but they’re rough and ready. My favourite late night (after 10pm) place.
9. Kyoto, Kloof Nek Road, Tamboerskloof. This is the best sushi after Nobu and at half the price. Convenient and chic. Within two minutes walk from home, the choice is often between Kyoto or my other favourite neighbourhood restaurant, the classic European fare at 10. Societi Bistro, Orange Street, Gardens.
11. La Perla, Beach Road, Sea Point. On a sunny day for alfresco lunch, this is the spot. Now that I have been made as a restaurant critic by the staff, the service and food are on their best foot. The 12. Grand Beach Cafe has the edge on location though.
13. Masala dosa, Long Street, CBD. Run by the wonderful, Amit Raz, this is my favourite casual eatery. Lots of vegetarian options, funky buzz, arty hangout, a home from home.