Ever wonder where top chefs choose to eat once the dinner rush is over and the restaurant doors have closed? We chat to five Cape Town chefs about their favourite spots to frequent and what dishes they enjoy during downtime.
Cynthia Rivera, co-owner and chef at Mulberry & Prince
‘Hesheng on Sea Point Main Road is a hidden gem and a true hole in the wall,’ says Cynthia. ‘The owner Mei and her husband make everything fresh and by hand. It’s good food made by honest people. I always order all of the dim sum – fried bao, soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, seasonal vegetables and garlic, cucumber and mushroom salad and an order of sweet red bean cake. You have to mix the soy sauce, vinegar and house-made chilli oil that is on the table for the perfect dipping sauce. Oh, and a Tsingtao beer is mandatory!’
Andy Fenner, butcher and chef at Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants
‘My favourite place to eat is Beetbox, inside the Mojo Market in Sea Point,’ says Andy. ‘While I’m not actually a fan of the Mojo Market itself, Beetbox is like an oasis in a sea of otherwise pretty mediocre offerings. It’s awesome – in fact, I’d say it’s the best “health” food in town, although I don’t see it as a health shop. I eat at Beetbox because it’s delicious, not because it’s good for you (which it is!). I love the fact that their dishes smell like food, not pre-mixed powders, and I always order one of their prescription juices and a smoothie bowl. It’s tough to find a better way to start a Sunday morning.’
Ash Heeger, owner and chef at Ash Restaurant
‘My go-to spot is Hail Pizza, behind Clarke’s on Bree Street,’ says Ash. ‘ The best thing about it is that it’s a little more tucked away and serves literally the best pizza ever. I religiously order the St Elmo – thick-cut bacon, mushroom and avocado. A winner!
Giles Edwards, co-owner and chef at La Tête
‘The Table at De Meye wine farm in Stellenbosch is my restaurant of choice when I am not working,’ says Giles. ‘Owners Luke and Jessica Shepherd’s philosophy to food and their approach to eating really struck a chord with me. I love to go there and forget all the stresses of the restaurant. One of my favourite things is that they offer a set menu, which appeals to me because I spend my days planning and choosing menus, so I find it very satisfying that I don’t know what I am going to eat. That, coupled with the amazing setting under the trees, means that The Table is pretty hard to beat in my book. Closer to home, I love Hesheng in Sea Point. They do a lot of offal and a proper pig ear salad that is a favourite of mine. The fried pancakes aren’t half bad along with their beef shin broth. I often pop in on a Monday between shifts at the restaurant.’
Matt Manning, private chef
‘Open Wine in Wale Street is an unpretentious wine bar owned and managed by an Italian couple who have cultivated a fantastic wine list. There is a charming little courtyard out the back that is magic in summer, and the space has various nooks for intimate chats – ideal for relaxed meetings, pre-date drinks or as a communal gathering place for after-work drinks with friends. They also do wine tastings with some great smaller producers. The menu changes according to whatever tickles Marta and Ralph’s (the owners) fancy that day, which is part of the fun! The one thing you can bank on is that everything on offer is seasonal, Mediterranean-inspired and delicious. Expect tapas, baked bread, fresh pastas and platters. In my opinion, they do the best charcuterie board in town, with a selection of prosciutto from local suppliers, cheese from Culture Club Cheese, bacon lard bruschetta, olives and other delicious morsels.’