It took an unbelievably long time to get to Mantra Café in Camps Bay, which opened in December last year, but it was well worth the wait.
This chic, sophisticated restaurant and bar concept by the owners and founders of the Melissa’s brand, Mark and Melissa van Hoogstraten, was a fitting way to begin my friend Kerry’s birthday month celebrations.
I’ve always been a Melissa’s fan – the packaging of her products is irresistibly delicious. Here, the offering is expanded with full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus as well as a full bar serving a range of signature cocktails. In addition to the restaurant there is a Mantra retail store selling Mantra and Melissa’s food, home and gift ranges.
Too many eateries in Camps Bay rely heavily on the location, often serving sub-par food at exorbitant prices. This is not the case at Mantra. The food is fabulous, and it won’t destroy your budget. Plus, the view through the entirely glass wall of the beach across the road is simply fantastic.
There are some super winter specials on at the moment. These include a free glass of wine or draught beer with any main meal between 12pm and 4pm (including weekends), and a set dinner menu for R190 for two courses, or R230 for three. Cocktails are half price between 5pm and 7pm daily – perfect for sundowners – and buy-one-get-one-free pizzas every Wednesday night.
We began with cocktails: a grapefruit Mimosa for Kerry (MCC sparkling wine with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a sprig of thyme and orange zest), and a Red Jack for me – Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Bourbon mixed with red espresso and a shot of vanilla-infused Skyy vodka. What impressed us both about these, besides their deliciousness, was the perfect balance of flavours.
We took advantage of the free wine special with our main courses, Kerry choosing Rosé to go with her fish and chips, and Merlot for me and my sirloin. We’d begun with a Rockstar salad to share – blue cheese, preserved figs, olives, cucumber, bacon lardons and parmesan croutons. The winning thing here? No mountain of leaves. Be honest now…don’t you also pick out all the “good” bits and leave the lettuce?
The menu offers Mantra Plates, which can be individual starters, or ordered as a selection to share, salads, pizzas and palate-pleasing favourites for mains, like pork ribs in sticky sesame sauce, prawns, and mussels in creamy white wine sauce with bruschetta. Of her fish, Kerry commented: “The batter is light and crispy with no underlying doughiness, and the fish is firm with no ‘milkiness’.”
My 300g thick cut sirloin was prepared just right – on the rare side of medium, not the other way around – with a good strip of fat as requested. It was served with fat chips and béarnaise sauce.
Desserts are not my thing, but the birthday girl had to have what is simply, and in an understated fashion, referred to on the menu as an ice cream sundae. Our waitress knowingly brought two spoons. “This is pretty epic,” said Kerry. “It has a punch of richness, but it’s not uber-sweet.” The combination of peanut butter ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate ganache and topped with caramelised popcorn is downright fantastic.
An all-round fabulous eating out experience which I have no hesitation in recommending.
* Mantra Café is at 43 Victoria Road, Camps Bay and open from 9am to 9pm daily.
To book, call 021 437 0206; or send an email to email@example.com.