To give it its full name, Si Cantina Sociale aims to be the place where you can happily hang out at any time of the day or night – eating, drinking, listening to live music and, well, socialising writes Bianca Coleman.
You’ll find it in the Silo district of the V&A Waterfront, which I don’t really think we can call “new” anymore. It’s quickly established itself as a trendy area filled with cool restaurants, as well as hotels, a Virgin Active, a Lindt Studio and the Zeitz MOCAA – along with office and residential blocks. All of this sits alongside a working harbour and for me, this precinct embodies that best of all in the whole V&A. It’s also a lot less crowded than the “other” side which, to be fair, holds a great deal more big family and/or visitor attractions like the Watershed, food market, shopping mall, cinemas and the Cape Wheel.
The Silo district might be a bit noisier with all the activity going on in the dry docks, and the comings and goings of ships loudly announcing themselves, but it has a charm all of its own.
“We loved the concept of the Silo district, which gives off a European feel with an African flair,” says Si co-owner Shelly Castle. “We wanted to be one of the founding operators in this exciting space and believed our Mediterranean/communal eating concept is the perfect fit.”
A friend who is lucky enough to live in an apartment nearby goes to Si often and was able to rattle off several of the dishes she has enjoyed there. One which she had been raving about since the previous day already, is on the breakfast menu. We were there for a late lunch.
No problem. This friend is accomplished in the art of getting what she wants, even if it’s not strictly speaking available. Which is how she charmed her order of a green omelette filled with fresh spinach, roasted tomatoes, zucchini and grilled halloumi or feta at three in the afternoon.
I’m glad she did, because I got to taste it and it’s wonderful.
Si does a huge range of tapas, as well as salads, flatbreads and main dishes for lunch and dinner, which doesn’t necessarily make life easy. Included is this intriguing dish: a spaghetti burger – a spaghetti and pecorino “bun” topped with a beef patty, spicy tomato, pecorino, white cheddar and fries.
As much as I would have liked to see what that looks like, I stayed strong and instead ordered the burrata salad – an island of creamy, soft centred cow’s milk cheese spilling over the plate, with a beach of mixed tomatoes, grilled zucchini and smoked olive caviar.
It was delicious, with its selection of tiny tomatoes – one type magically and cunningly infused with basil. There was a little side dish with something tart that made me pull all sorts of faces, but in that exquisite way that sour worms do…even the thought of it now makes my mouth water.
For my main course I had calamari, described on the menu as “grilled…tossed with herb butter, served with cherry tomatoes, rocket, yoghurt and olive relish.” As a tapas, the tubes are indicated as tossed in flour but not for the main dish, something I would have had liked pointed out to me. Nevertheless, it was a good dish and luckily only a food preference, not an allergy.
Perusing the menu online as I write this, I’m confident I’d like to return to sample it more extensively, which is always a good sign.
* There is free wine tasting with Flagstone Wines from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesdays, and live music (acoustic chill) on Thursdays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Si is at 5A1, Silo District, V & A Waterfront.
Call 087 470 0124, or visit sicantinasociale.co.za.