Shopping centre eating is generally pretty awful; loads of fast food chains serving up flash fried junk, so-called health outlets that toss mayonnaise over drab lettuce leaf filled bowls, faux Italian delis and so forth. The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has generally been a slightly better prospect, with a couple of ‘dependables’ that a weary shopper could drop into and be sure of something edible and often quite good.
With summer holidays around the corner, you may want to have a look at our V&A top restaurants list. Some are old favourites, and others are new, exciting destinations. If you’re an out-of-towner who will be there during peak season, it might be a good idea to make some bookings now.
TRIED AND TRUSTED AT THE V&A
This list of old favorites would typically include:
Belthazar for great steaks and an amazing wine list;
Willoughby’s for imaginative sushi and other great seafood dishes (just be prepared for enormous lunch-time queues in the holiday season);
Den Anker for Belgian fare with a view (think moules et frites, and of course a great selection of Belgian beers); and
Balducci’s for well-prepared contemporary light meals (with its nearby sister spot in the form of a wooden sushi-cube, one of the V&A’s best kept secrets).
HOTEL RESTAURANTS NEAR THE V&A
For more upmarket options there have of course always been numerous in-hotel restaurants to turn to:
Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace for classic fine dining;
Nobu at the One & Only for Asian fusion (just make sure your credit card is loaded up, or else try Reuben’s at the same venue);
Ginja at the Victoria & Alfred hotel or Dash at sister hotel the Queen Victoria for contemporary fare; and
Camissa Brasserie at the Table Bay Hotel.
NEW AND EXCITING NEAR THE V&A
In the last couple of years, however, the options for grabbing a good meal within the greater V&A complex have ramped up considerably, especially after the recent opening of the uber-trendy Silo District.
Here are some new and new-ish options worth trying:
Firefish – part of the Kove Collection, which means that quality and good, simple food is pretty much guaranteed. Half the menu is meat the other half seafood. Best of all is the Ice Bar where you can select your own fish or shellfish.
Gibson Gourmet Burger – from the folk at Belthazar – turning their butchery prowess into an awesome array of gourmet burgers. Also good for ribs, craft & draught, and a mind blowing selection of milkshakes. Chic interior with a harbour view.
Harbour House – part of the Harbour House group (which also includes the Spanish tapas chain La Parada). If you’re after a beautifully grilled piece of fresh fish with super-tasty accompaniments, this place is a must. Amazingly, this branch is almost as good as the original in Kalk Bay and the newer Constantia Nek outlet despite the natural increase in foot traffic at this V&A location. Sit al fresco, or upstairs in cooler weather, for the view.
Haiku – the V&A branch of the much-loved Cape Town city centre restaurant, renowned for its Asian fusion food. Sushi, dim sum, grill or wok – choices are endless so best to ask your server for a recommendation across the menu. All delicious.
Life Grand Cafe – for once a Joburg brand comes to Cape Town and it’s as good as ever. As with their other restaurants, the menu is fresh, varied and wholesome – from salads to seafood and scrumptious burgers. A vintage building on the harbour’s edge.
Maresol – a new Portuguese/Mozambican restaurant has just opened in the revamped old colonial building that once housed the Hildebrand restaurant. Expect typical fare such as peri peri chicken and prawns, espetada, trinchado, pregos, etc. An all wood and white interior with floor-to-ceiling glass.
Mondiall – award winning chef Peter Tempelhoff took the essence of what makes the food at the Greenhouse fantastic and simplified it for the lunch crowd at the V&A. He has since handed the reins over to Patrick Symington of Asoka and Dharma fame. A new addition is a small gourmet burger take-out bar (no seating) serving from the rear of the restaurant. Also look out for live music on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Sevruga – specialties here include oysters, sushi and fresh new-French fare. Enjoyed with a glass of crisp local white wine from a well compiled wine list plus an outside table with a direct view of a working harbour and the passing throng. What’s not to like?
In the new Silo District:
Si Cantina Social – hearth style cooking using a traditional flaming parilla grill accompanied by flatbreads baked in a pizza oven. Casual, contemporary Spanish. Sharing is of course part of the experience.
The Yard – an Interesting concept: a contemporary designed open plan space that allows diners to select between Italian and Indian options, even at the same table. Also has a great bar and adjacent coffee shop and deli. Likely to become a Cape Town hotspot with the in-crowd.
The Silo Hotel – this hotel is housed in an amazing new concrete and glass building sitting atop the old grain silo from which the Silo district takes its name. 3 dining options are available: the fine dining Granary Café, the more casual Willaston Bar (both on the 6th floor) and the Silo Rooftop which serves more cafe-light style fare alongside the hotel pool. All are worth a visit just to take in the breathtaking views, so it’s an added bonus that the decor and service are top notch and food excellent. Oh, and you must of course pay a visit to the Zeitz modern art museum that lies beneath the hotel, carved in extraordinary fashion into the concrete of the former silo structure itself. Incredible architecture all round and a South African achievement to be proud of.
RELATED: For other SA restaurant and booze reviews click here.