Mother City Fine Dining

Mother City Fine Dining

In the food capital of South Africa, where we have so many fabulous restaurants serving a huge variety of speciality cuisines and concepts, it’s not easy to come up with something new and refreshing to excite a foodie clientele who have almost seen it all. Chefs has managed to do just that.

Chefs: “Simple” cuisine has a new flagship

By Bianca Coleman

In the food capital of South Africa, where we have so many fabulous restaurants serving a huge variety of speciality cuisines and concepts, it’s not easy to come up with something new and refreshing to excite a foodie clientele who have almost seen it all. Chefs has managed to do just that.
The restaurant opened a couple of weeks ago and is already attracting repeat business. If it was just the gimmick of having no waiters (already done in other eateries), or a tiny limited menu (also done), and a very basic dining room with a classy kitchen canteen feel, then maybe it would be “just” another restaurant. But add onto all that the fantastic food served in generous portions at reasonable prices and you have a winner.

There are no printed menus. Instead, the diligent diner can have a look at the website in the morning to see what three dishes will be available that day and make up their mind in advance. Alternatively, when you arrive you can view the menu on an iPad, choose your meal and pay upfront. Take a seat and soon after, a chef will arrive at your table with your meal served on a tray. Each element of the dish is presented separately, reminiscent of an airline meal or TV dinner. There the similarity ends, however, as the food quality is far superior.
Chef Jenny Ward uses a wood-fired oven for all the prep, making use of the cycle of heat from flames to coals, and even different types of wood. This gives things like the prawn on top of the tuna carpaccio its unique chargrilled taste. This dish is served with an Asian-inspired salad, bowls of aioli and guacamole with a hint of chilli, and thin slices of toasted ciabatta.

Others at the table had the lamb chops – a very lavish offering of four thick, good-sized cutlets – with all the side dishes, and everyone said they were fantastic. The third meal that day was a burrata salad, which is in line with providing a selection that will cater for most dietary needs: the light meal, veggie option; or the more substantial meat, chicken or fish-oriented meal.
While these three dishes may not be on the menu today, they will eventually reappear; there is a core of several items which are on rotation, based on the usual premise of what’s fresh, seasonal and available at the market. You can either wait for the one you loved before, or – and I would do this – based on the fabulousness of what you had the first time, be open to going back to try something different.

Some of the options are cured salmon tartare served with raw coconut chilli salsa; bourbon BBQ-basted Karoo lamb with crispy straw chips; and boldly flavoured vegetarian options, such as wood-roasted artichokes served with sweet potato thyme gnocchi, mixed mushrooms with house labneh cheese, sautéed baby spinach and lemon seed mustard vinaigrette.
There’s also a dessert of the day. Ours was a glass of gorgeous strawberries and ice cream with a wedge of light-as-air nougat meringue.

The food at Chefs is healthy, colourful and delicious. Still or sparkling water is included in the price of your meal, or quench your thirst one of Jenny’s cordials she makes herself (there are no sugary soft drinks). She’s also a fan of making pickles and preserves. There is no liquor license just yet, but when it arrives, the choice of wine will be as limited as the menu: one red, one white.
The barrier-less kitchen allows customers uninterrupted visual access to all the food prepping and assembling, and large, open windows allow plenty of natural light and highlight the stripped back, honest aesthetic. A long row of tables takes centre stage, encouraging an atmosphere of patron interaction and the simple enjoyment of excellently prepared meals.

Chefs is open Mondays to Fridays from 12pm until 4pm (until 8pm once the liquor license comes through). Find them on 81 St John’s Street, Gardens.
Reservations are not necessary and Chefs does not do take aways; Jenny doesn’t want you to eat her food in anything less than optimal conditions.
For more information, call 021 461 0368; or visit www.chefscapetown.co.za.
Social media: Instagram (chefs.ct) or Facebook (@ChefsCapeTown), and engage via the hashtags #chefs and #chefscapetown.