We’re currently within winter’s not-so-warm embrace, meaning that sushi, salads, and wraps are no longer our go-to dining options for approximately the next three months (because Cape Town is just generous with winter like that). So, by now you’ve probably tried all the soup variations available, baked more bread than a French baker, roasted an entire garden of veggies, and even though you can no longer stand the heat in the kitchen, you still crave a warm, hearty meal every now and then. The good news is that Cape Town offers some of the best dining options in the country – two of which we got to experience, and you probably should too.
The 41 Restaurant
Apart from the ideal seaside location of The 41 Restaurant, I would highly recommend this fine dining hotspot if, like me, you have a refined but indecisive palate that craves Italian cuisine on some days, something home-brewed on others, and just good ol’ California rolls on a Sunday afternoon. Their winter menu certainly doesn’t skimp on these options, boasting Chef’s Creations such as the Osso Bucco dish, roasted in a flavourful cocktail of stock, wine and veggies, served with parmesan polenta fries.
If red meat is not to your taste, you could always opt for a vegetarian pasta dish or the Thai chicken prawn curry.
Savoury dishes aside, I think the Chef’s Creation dessert – chocolate lava cake – is worth a mention as an outstanding finale to a three-course meal. It’s a mini tower with a warm chocolate fondant as base, and a contrastingly cold vanilla scoop atop it, complete with crumbed honeycomb. Such elaborate desserts would usually have you guzzling litres of sparkling water afterwards to restore neutrality to your taste buds, but this one is moderately sweet, yet still memorable.
Alternatively, if you’re into more traditional desserts, the French crème brûlée infused with ginger is just right for you.
Apart from the intermittent noise of a blender (part of their signature cocktail-making process), service at The 41 is friendly and efficient, and based on that, I would rate the overall dining experience a healthy, well-rounded 8/10.
Shimmy Beach Club & Restaurant
Known for its glamorous, bustling nightlife and packed DJ Black Coffee gigs in December, Shimmy Beach Club is also open to individuals who enjoy a good meal with a picturesque view. This winter menu is for anyone in need of some comfort food at the end of a long week – from a very generous portion of fresh, local mussels to a red-wine-braised, fall-off-the-bone lamb shank as good as one made by your favourite home cook.
I did not try the pizza at Shimmy, but I must mention that this menu is no Plain Jane – she’s more of a Fancy Nancy whose offering of toppings include candied fig with bacon, Italian sausage, spicy beef, braised shin as well as a cauliflower base for the carb-watchers.
And the dessert?
Because I’m a creature of habit, I ordered a very similar dessert to the one I had at The 41; smoked dark chocolate fondant with Cognac ice cream. The Cognac ice cream is the main attraction here – deliciously subtle.
If you have a sweeter tooth than myself, I would suggest you go for a ‘trio of spring rolls’. Here you can choose from Cape brandy spring rolls with caramel sauce, milk tart spring rolls with cinnamon sauce, and fondant spring rolls with homemade Nutella.
The one critique I have about Shimmy Beach Club & Restaurant is that the ambience is very much tailored to a summer experience. However, this shouldn’t stop you from visiting on a warm(ish) evening for some much-deserved soul food. After all, that’s what they made puffer jackets for. I’m rating this dining experience a solid 7/10.
Note: Shimmy is closed for the month of July and will reopen on 4 August.
What’s a fine dining experience without bubbly?
“Champagne is far more versatile than people think and it comes alive with food.”
A word from premier champagne brand, GH Mumm:
1.What are the most ideal winter dishes to pair bubbly with?
When it comes to pairing champagne it’s all about balance. GH Mumm pairs well with most dishes.
2. Champagne is often associated with celebrations, but has also reached a point where it is enjoyed on ordinary days. Which of the GH Mumm champagnes are best for special occasions and which ones can we indulge in on any other day?
The wonderful thing about champagne is that it is the only wine and only spirit that can be enjoyed at every meal, from breakfast to dinner. Champagne is far more versatile than people think and it comes alive with food. For special occasions, I would recommend GH Mumm Grand Cordon. This cuvee is our new icon of celebration. It is as bold as the red sash on the bottle. Embrace and celebrate its energy and stylish unconformity as the intensity of the wine frees your mind from the confines of what was before. Mumm Brut Rosé is the perfect choice for sunny days and making the most of the moment. Mumm’s sweet side, our Demi-Sec, can be paired perfectly well with fruity desserts. It’s also great for your night out in a club.
3.What makes GH Mumm a superior champagne?
Our wines are made from the best parcels in the Champagne region in France and aged in our 25km-long cellars in Reims. Throughout Mumm history, the Maison always thrived to be cutting-edge when it comes to the production process. We were the first to use 12l barrels in winemaking, and among the first to build press houses in the middle of the vineyards. GH Mumm is the #1 selling champagne (volumes) in the most mature Champagne market, France. I guarantee that the French know a thing or two about bubbly. Since 1927 the House makes champagnes according to the motto, ‘Only the best’.
4. Are there any unconventional/creative ways to serve bubbly in a manner that will impress your guests?
The best way to impress your guests is by sabering the bottle, ideally with a sword. Not everybody will have a sword at home, but it also works with a kitchen knife, and for the advanced ones, also with a champagne glass. But be very cautious and watch our video tutorial first. Sabrage has a long tradition within Mumm dating back to 1875 with Alexandre de Bary who would open his renowned dinner parties by sabering a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge.
5.What should one absolutely not do when it comes to pairing champagne with certain dishes?
There are so many types of champagnes with different levels of sweetness and flavours that there really is no general answer to that. As far as Mumm is concerned, GH Mumm Cordon Rouge, Grand Cordon and our Rosé pair very well with seafood (for example oysters and salmon). I recommend avoiding to pair Mumm Demi-Sec with chocolate, as it will leave a rather bitter taste in your mouth. When it comes to pairing champagne, it’s all about balance.