Gorgeous George, the first in Cape Town to join the Design Hotels stable, lives up to its name. Once you have located it.
Armed with the address –118 in St George’s Mall in the CBD – isn’t quite enough if you are expecting a highly visible entrance. Finding the number by process of elimination, you’ll suddenly notice two austere overcoated doormen and a welcome mat bidding you “Hello Gorgeous”. Apparently, this understated front door is intentional.
The foyer is small and not particularly impressive. The lift is right there, easy to locate if the receptionist happens to be on the phone. Up on the sixth floor you exit the elevator into Gigi restaurant. This is where you begin to get the true sense of just how gorgeous it is.
The décor is tropical, with lots of plants and bright African touches, leather couches and ceiling mirrors. Make your way past the tables to the outside rooftop deck where you’ll be able to eat and drink in a lush jungle sheltered from the elements (being winter now, and all). For guests, there is a wooden deck with umbrellas and loungers (and a separate entrance so they don’t have to walk through the restaurant in their bathing suits), and a glass-sided swimming pool with its own undercover area for even more privacy. Very retro, very nostalgic in a Casablanca kind of way, and very, very sexy.
Being part of the 300-property German-headquartered global luxury hotel group Design Hotels, aesthetics obviously play a major role. “International award-winning interior designer Tristan du Plessis has created a concept celebrating contemporary African design and showcasing locally manufactured high-end timeless South African furniture,” says the press release. “Lighting and furniture have been sourced from David Krynauw, Gregor Jenkin, Studio 19 and Douglas&Co, while murals from artist David Brits are featured in every room.”
Gigi Rooftop’s drinks menu is designed by Jody Rahme, a finalist in several world bartending championships and former manager at Johannesburg’s popular Sin+Tax. Rahme manages bar operations at Gigi Rooftop, while executive chef Guy Bennett serves up his fresh take on modern classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Our visit was on a rainy day, for breakfast. It was cosy under the pitched glass ceiling through which we could see the surrounding buildings through the cascading rivulets of water. A gas heater kept the chill at bay, and like so often in Cape Town, the clouds lifted a short while later and rays of sunshine broke through.
The morning menu begins with The Classic – eggs “as you like them” with braaied boerewors, crispy bacon, grilled tomato and mushroom, with your choice of toast. Note: there are no gluten-free bread options on the menu.
Other dishes include Smashed Avo Toast; eggs any way with toast and optional bacon; and of course, the ubiquitous Eggs Benedict.
On the sweeter side: French Kiss Toast with walnuts, bananas and whipped crème fraiche; Big Bad Belgian waffles topped with butter roasted apple and vanilla bean ice cream; and buckwheat flapjacks with fresh and stewed fruit and honeyed cream. These unfortunately are not gluten-free.
I chose the Shake Your Shakshuka, described on the menu as “slow and low style tomato and aubergine smoor with black beans, baked eggs and whipped chevin.” Smoky chorizo is an optional extra. Shakshuka is a dish I love to cook at home although I have never yet got my eggs right – still runny in the middle. This one was just like I make it – tasty, with firm yolks.
My friend had George’s Egg Omelette filled with baby spinach, chilli, feta and pancetta, with no toast, because she is gluten-intolerant (celiac-style, so the real and dangerous kind). We drank coffee and a Greeneyed (sic) Monster pressed juice of kale, cucumber, spinach, celery, apple, lemon and pear.
More breakfast options include a Continental spread of charcuterie, cheese (“fromage” on the menu), smoked trout, seasonal fruits and berries, cereals, yoghurt, bread and butters. Extras like grated cheddar, hash browns and steamed greens can be added to any of your hot breakfasts.
* Gigi Rooftop is open for bookings.
For more information, visit www.gorgeousgeorge.co.za; or call 087 898 6000.
By Bianca Coleman