Stella Café and Bar: Enjoy divine summery tapas poolside
Review my Bianca Coleman
(picture: Poolside at The Cullinan Hotel)
Summer is coming and with it the desire to eat long lazy meals outdoors, preferably near a body of water. Stella Café and Bar at The Cullinan Hotel is the perfect place to do that.
The interior of the café has been redone and it’s smart, chic, and stylish. But when the sun is shining, head out to the pool deck to a table beneath an umbrella and begin with a refreshing cocktail.
These can be full sized, or try chef Lindsay Venn’s new take – mini cocktails. These are too cute, and allow you to sample many more than one in a single sitting without getting totally slaughtered. Gin and tonic is also a fabulous sunshiny day drink, and we began with these, made with delicious Inverroche Amber, which is locally distilled in Still Bay.
The pool is gorgeous, more of an ultramarine/midnight blue than traditional turquoise, and there are inviting rows of loungers where you can sprawl after lunch. Lindsay did say we could swim if we wanted to, but that might be because he knows me so check first before you rock up with your cossie and towel.
The Stella – which is a feminine given name of Latin and Italian origin, meaning “star” – menu focuses on hot and cold tapas, which can serve as a quick snack with a glass of wine from the well-priced list, a meal to share, or a feast for friends. Since we were there to sample as broad a range as possible, Lindsay sent out bowl after bowl. We didn’t realise it was going to be this way so we gorged on the first round of mainly cold dishes and were sadly defeated by the second wave of hot dishes.
We had two divine salads, one with broccoli, cranberries, and roasted walnuts; the other with cos lettuce, peas, and avocado. Both were simple and oh so tasty, and the portion sizes are generous for tapas. We also had a warm truffled mushroom, chickpea, and green bean salad with rosa tomatoes, and got a sneak preview of a new dish: salmon sushi balls.
After a short break came more – pot stickers filled with peppadews and served with a hot and sour dip, kung pau (sic) chicken with cauliflower “rice”, two huge pieces of seared salmon on noodles, and fabulously tender confit pork belly with coleslaw. We could barely move, but we had to try at least one dessert and the winner was delicately rosy pink and white Turkish Delight cheesecake garnished with a strawberry encased in crystalised sugar.
Prices for the tapas range from R35 to R60, and some are available in main course size. Besides the cocktails there is an excellent range of wines, bubbles, and craft beers. Coupled with friendly efficient service, spending the entire afternoon here is incredibly tempting.
Where: Stella Café and Bar at the Southern Sun The Cullinan, 1 Cullinan Street, Cape Town. Call 021 415 4000 for more information and for reservations.
When: Open daily from 7am until midnight.