When it comes to food, whether it’s fine or fast, consistency is crucial. Which is why I always salute a certain junk (because it really is) franchise for being consistently bad, despite its glorious advertising.
In the case of Chefs, the food is both fine and fast, and it has maintained its consistency since it opened almost a year ago.
The concept is that of a small – very small, as in three plus one dessert – selection of dishes which changes daily, and served from noon with last orders at 8.30pm. To find out what’s on offer you can check the website in the morning (especially if you’ve previously had something you particularly enjoyed and want to know when it’s next available) or just pitch up for a surprise. No bookings are required.
The food is presented in an upmarket canteen style, on segmented trays. Unlike canteens, however, your meal will be freshly prepared when you place and pay for your order. The kitchen team is headed by chef Jenny Ward, who brings her skill with wood-fired cooking, a love for simple and traditional cooking techniques, and a preference for using raw ingredients from carefully sourced suppliers.
There is no fancy décor in the light, bright venue, no waiters (the chefs themselves bring your food), and no tipping required (although I feel a gratuity for the kitchen staff is always in order).
On the day we visited, the dishes were crispy duck with Asian broth, and vegetable spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce; roasted sirloin prego with a tomato and marinated feta salad and truffle fries; (which is what I had); and caramelised sweet potato with a baby greens salad and a cumin flatbread, which my friend ordered. The portions are generous to say the least, and both meals were delicious.
The dessert of the day was a silky smooth and utterly heavenly yoghurt panna cotta with roasted pineapple topped with a light-as-air meringue. Full details are on the website as well as on tablets at the restaurant. If you sign up for the email version, the menu will be delivered to your inbox around 10am every day.
Still or sparkling water is on the house (not a single fizzy sugary drink to be found here), there’s a daily juice and cordial, beer is on-tap and the wine list changes monthly. Ward likes to choose wines not usually found at other bigger restaurants, that pair well with her food. She also has a policy of not subscribing to delivery services because she believes the food is at its best when it comes straight from the kitchen, and not after it’s been gallivanting around on the back of a scooter.
* Chefs, on 81 St Johns Street, Gardens, is open Mondays to Fridays from 12pm onwards. The kitchen takes its last orders at 8.30pm.
Call 21 461 0368 for more information, or visit www.chefscapetown.co.za.