Restaurants reviewed by Waterline’s resident restaurant critic Dominic Ferszt. Dom, as we call him, was a judge for “The San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants” in 2011 and 2015.
We trust his selection and we think you should too.
Franck Dangereux nurtured La Colombe in Constantia from conception to the most highly ranked restaurant in Africa (28th in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, 2006). When it all felt like too much hard work, he moved to Noordhoek and opened The Foodbarn. The pomp has been stripped, the kids are very happy, and the food (French regional) is sublime. It’s better in ‘lunch mode’, more couple-y in the evenings and a good choice for vegetarians.
Adjacent to The Foodbarn, with whom they share a kid’s playground. A solid choice with less complicated food. Relaxed set-up with a large outdoor, undercover section. Occasional live acts or music. Busy Sunday afternoons.
Whether for breakfast, lunch, drinks or dinner, this Noordhoek jewel set within a milkwood forest and elevated above the beach offers the most magnificent location. Relax and enjoy the sunset views overlooking the crashing Atlantic waves from the shaded outside deck. The menu makes use of the freshest local free-range produce and includes a great selection of vegetarian options, succulent seafood dishes and tasty South African traditional dishes.
Blue Water Café on Imhoff Farm is one of those rare finds. Delectable, freshly prepared food, a relaxed atmosphere and a picture perfect backdrop are all on the menu. Add to this a safe enclosed garden, jungle gym and neighbouring animal farm – all guaranteed to keep the little ones happily occupied – and you have the consummate recipe for enjoying the good life!
Your local choice for Indian, with ample vegetarian choices. Amazingly, Fish Hoek is a ‘dry’ suburb, so be sure to arrange your favourite tipple before dinner, because liquor sales off-premises are not allowed at night, even in ‘wet’ areas.
This restaurant has a fantastic setting and ambiance, overlooking the harbour, crashing waves and playful seals. Remember to book a table beside the window. The standard menu opens with a concise sushi menu, before moving on to starters that include the likes of oysters, bouillabaisse, ceviche, West Coast black mussels and masala dusted calamari. For mains, go for grilled prawns, grilled crayfish and a seafood selection platter.
Situated in the picturesque old-world charm of Kalk Bay’s working harbour, Live Bait has an iconic location set below and in the same building as the famous Harbour House restaurant. Built on the breakwater, the restaurant has exquisite views overlooking False Bay on one side, and the colourful harbour on the other. A window table makes you feel you are sitting on the bow of a ship with all the drama of an ocean scape directly in front of you. All meals are simply prepared, with deep fried calamari, line fish and prawns recommended
This restaurant is acquiring a legendary / cult status (it’s been on CNN!) and it seems the only thing that’s changed since it was a well kept local secret, is its popularity. Good for: breakfasts, laid back, comfort cooking, seafood, off-peak and value. Bad for: reservations … they don’t take any.
Directly off Chapman’s Peak drive, just a few hundred feet from the water, the views of the Cape Peninsula stretch in all directions. If you’ve booked for a sunset drink it is especially romantic, as you’ll be served at private tables and watch the sun sink into the Atlantic. Exquisite five-course meals, an impressive wine cellar and excellent service compete to make your experience here truly memorable
A wonderful restaurant setting, perched on the mountain approach to Chapman’s Peak and overlooking the sea, is arguably Cape Town’s number best restaurant for calamari. Set within this historic hotel with views across Hout Bay beach is the perfect lunch venue to enjoy a seafood meal and glass of chilled white wine. The drive along Chapmans Peak from WATERLINE to Hout Bay will take your breath away.
The original Hout Bay restaurant. This wood-panelled, nautically themed restaurant has been successfully serving fresh seafood for decades. Owner Stanley Dorman has a lifelong interest in scrimshaw and nautical memorabilia, and much of his collection is tastefully displayed around the restaurant. Located on the harbour, you can be sure he has access to the freshest seafood.
A large selection of Pan-Asian / Thai dishes in a sumptuously decorated historic building of Cape Dutch architecture. A popular venue. Book well ahead, or eat from the smaller lounge menu.
+27 (0)21 790 8004 www.kitima.co.za
Distance to Waterline: 13.5 km
Travel time: 37 min
two oceans restaurant
Most assuredly not for the food; collect your tray, put food on, pay, and then appreciate South Africa’s premier restaurant location. This is a pit stop for those visiting Cape Point. Go midweek, or on a calm, sunny winter’s day (we have plenty). Don’t go in high season or when it’s windy. You will see wild baboons, and it’s only open until late afternoon.
Named Bistro 1682 after the year in which Steenberg was first established, this modern eatery offers a great setting and the food certainly won’t disappoint. The tapas are the star of the dinner menu, served from sundown until early evening. Indulge in treats like hand-chopped beef tartare with all the trimmings, angelfish springrolls and Asian sticky pork belly.
Knead Muizenberg is very much a family affair – bustling with surfers, runners, swimmers or families having a day out. If the weather’s fine, watch the waves roll in as you sip an icy beer or lemonade outside at our café tables. If the South Easter is blowing – stay warm and protected inside with a coffee. With long picture windows running the length of this coolly designed shop – its the perfect spot to people watch and while away a few hours.
Holding the dubious distinction of world’s 12th best restaurant, while failing to make South Africa’s Eat Out Top Ten the same year. This is due to the timing of these two awards either side of Chef Luke Dale Roberts’ departure. The experienced team here are sure get their act together, because they lay on Africa’s most dignified Sunday lunch. French cuisine, local ingredients extensive wine list. Better for lunch.
With dramatic views across the Constantia valley and nestled high up in this vineyard setting, food is served tapas style with a series of three dishes per course for a fixed price for two. Oysters are available as starters, and come highly recommended. Despite the popularity of the location, the waiting staff are on hand to answer questions and ensure that you are left with a lasting impression of genuine care and attention to detail.
If you are looking for a faultless dining experience in terms of food, service and location, look no further. Here, the cuisine is inspired by South Africa’s eclectic and diverse cultures, indigenous ingredients and local storytelling, and the dishes are presented with flair. Prepare yourself for a 10 course tasting menu where emphasis on presentation makes for a feast both for the palette and the eyes. Fine dining at its best.
Those who know better will tell you there’s a cluster of South African chefs who might lay claim to 2nd place, but with an unassailable lead is unquestionably Luke Dale Roberts. “He’s simply in a different league altogether”, is the verdict of Cape Town’s Silwood School of Cookery. Book a few weeks ahead, or enjoy his simpler lunch menu.
Located in trendy Woodstock atop the Old Biscuit Mill, the glass elevator ride delivers guests to Luke Dale-Roberts’ affordable gastronomic experience. This striking loft-style eatery with open plan kitchen has a cool urban vibe. The menu is made up of a collection of tapas sized plates divided into 5 basic tastes: salty, sour, sweet, umami and bitter. After a cocktail ease into the tasting menu where 6-8 dishes are sufficient if sharing.
Modern Italian at a slick venue with the masterful and charismatic Giorgio Nava presiding. Or try its even less veggie sibling Carne. It’s just across the road.
+27 (0)21 422 0765 www.95keerom.com
Distance to Waterline: 36.5 km
Travel time: 41 min
Occupying some of the most decadent interior space on the African continent, but the real treat is to experience Nobu Matsuhitsa’s genius at his Cape Town outpost. If you’ve eaten at a modern Asian restaurant in the last decade, you’ve seen a Nobu inspired dish, but nothing compares to an artist’s original work. One’s first Nobu experience is a culinary awakening for many people. Modern Japanese with South American influences, fabulous cocktails and sake
If Miami or the Côte d’Azure intrigue you, then The Grand Café and Beach is Cape Town’s proxy for Nikki Beach, except you can’t swim. It is situated on the outskirts of the V&A Waterfront in Granger Bay and the restaurant offers a simple well-executed menu. These magnets for Cape Town’s trendy set get very busy in season, when they tend to overbook, and the service can test one’s patience. After 18h00: no kids; smart casual attire.
If your dining fantasy involves lobsters or prawns, then make this your Mecca. Put together a platter as follows, and in order of preference: Langoustines, Linefish (if it’s Kabeljou or Cape Salmon), Calamari, Cape Crayfish, Prawns of various sizes. It’s one of the few places serving Perlemoen (Abalone, at a fraction of the Hong Kong price), and has a good variety of meat and vegetarian options.
Outside a few Wagyu cattle farms around Kobe in Japan, this little hole-in-the-wall, local joint is curer to some of the world’s finest beef tenderloin. That’s fillet steak to you and me, and may only be eaten between raw and medium rare. Order it plain grilled, or the Hollandse Biefstuk (butter alert) with fillet rather than sirloin. Order it rare and you can slice your own carpaccio. It’s that good!
+27 (0)21439 5900
Distance to Waterline: 39 km
Travel time: 42 min
rumbullion at the roundhouse
At lunch, the restaurant moves outdoors in summer, serves a simple variety of spreads, meats and cheeses, and goes by the name Rumbullion. Set among the trees on the slope of Lion’s Head, and a world away from the Camp’s Bay strip down the road, with unparalleled views of the Twelve Apostles and the Atlantic Ocean. More of a catered picnic than a lunch seating.
Probably not ‘worth a journey’, but many visitors find themselves in Camps Bay, and this would be our daytime choice. No matter how busy it gets, no-one ever sits at the back of the restaurant, confirming our suspicion that one comes here for the scene, not the food.
+27 (0)21 438 0404 www.paranga.co.za
Distance to Waterline: 41.3 km
Travel time: 48 min
Some of the best pizzas south of Sicily with creative combinations, many put together by South Africa’s celebrity chefs. Try the ‘Da Terra’ with biltong, or the ‘Raesta’ with prawn. Heart-friendly and gluten-free options, a long list of creative salads, kid-friendly and take-aways.
A flawless recreation of the Provençal dining experience, except the staff are friendlier. One of the finest collections of South African wine and the most knowledgeable sommeliers you will encounter. Worthy of many Michelins.
The acclaimed bistro-style restaurant offers a menu that continues to evolve yet focuses on simple pleasures. Indulge in three to six courses from the tasting-style menu, with the option to include wine pairing. Foodies can anticipate new exotic flavour combinations such as prawns with nasturtium (a herbaceous flowering plant) and grapefruit, or lamb with wood sorrel, kale and sprouts.
“It’s the views from the upstairs living room that really give this place drama: straight ahead are the dunes and then the crashing Atlantic waves; behind are the lush, mountainous peaks of Chapman’s Bay.”