Café Royale on the ground level of the Cape Royale hotel has launched a new menu, with more changes coming in the next few months.
Head chef Paolo February wants to create food that is organic and simple, serving dishes in which the flavour of individual ingredients shines through.
The tiny café has indoor and outdoor seating, the latter being sheltered from the busy main road by tall hedges. The classic marble-topped tables and wicker-backed chairs are those with which we associate the French capital, creating a little Parisian oasis in the heart of Cape Town.
Chef Paulo came out to explain his new menu ideas and generously agreed to prepare me something which will be on the menu later this year, in line with the promise that diners’ wishes can be accommodated. What I asked for is the epitome of what February wants to achieve: a sirloin steak with thick-cut potato chips seasoned with fresh truffle, caramelised onions, air-dried tomato, and a small Caesar salad. As much as I enjoy extravagant and complicated fine dining dishes with multiple ingredients and showcasing a string of techniques, they have their time and their place; something as unfussy and uncomplicated as steak, chips and salad is often preferable.
My friend ordered the grilled lamb from the menu, which is in essence at the other end of the spectrum. The portion was much smaller, almost disappointingly so when viewed alongside my hearty meal, but she complimented the interesting flavour combination. The meat was cooked to perfection, and the coriander pesto complemented the whole dish, which included hummus (“Would have loved more of that,” she said), harissa and pomegranate.
The upside of a smaller main course meant my friend was almost able to manage dessert. She ordered the chocolate fondant, which was served with ice cream. “Lots of textures, and very sweet,” she commented. “The mint and the strawberry cuts through the richness of the chocolate. It’s big enough to be a romantic couples’ dessert.” As much as she loves the sweeter side of life, even she couldn’t manage to finish it.\
* Café Royale is on the ground floor of the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel on the Main Road in Green Point, and is open for lunch from 12pm to 3pm, and thereafter for dinner until 11pm.
For more information, go to www.caperoyale.co.za. To make a reservation at Café Royale call 021 430 0500.
By Bianca Coleman – Twitter: @BiancalColeman