During these Covid times Chef's Warehouse in Cape Town, South Africa has created yet another masterpiece, designed with locals in mind. I like to call it "out of town in town" with their new Spanish Tapas style menu at the location on Bree street. Both the food and beverage menu transport you gastronomically to a restaurant somewhere on a street in Barcelona, Spain. I'll start where my expertise lives... the wine list! Thoughtfully curated by their certified Sommelier, Lennox (@lennox_thewineguy), the list is filled with locally sourced Spanish grape varietals merging South African and Spanish wine cultures. This is brilliant as it gives locals a chance to learn about Spanish wine grapes while supporting the local wine economy. Lennox is well versed in the grape and its history in South Africa! I loved the diverse range from the fruit forward Newton Johnson 2018 Albarino to the cult favorite AA Badenhorst Spookberg Old Vine Palomino.
It was hard for me to decide between strictly tapas or a combo of one tapas and an entree. The style of dining is perfect for couples and groups. (Not really ideal for a dine alone option.) Nonetheless, I ordered the Calamares: Squid, Anchovy, Fried Garlic, Chirizo and Lemon for a starter. I selected the grilled tuna belly as my entree. Overall the food was excellent... very tasty.
The suggested wine pairing was spot on, although I let my ego get the best of me and went rogue instead of following Lennox's lead. I loved the fruit forward taste of the Newton Johnson. It reminded me of a white wine from Santa Ynez valley back home. Lets just say my memory did not pair well with the food. I should have listened to Lennox when he suggested the understated, mild and less acidic Spookberg. That wine proved to be a perfect canvas for the highly flavor filled and layered taste of the Calamares.
I could talk for hours about the wine but I am not because the reason for the famous Chef’s Warehouse was for the food by Chef Liam! (see my wine summary at the end of this blog for my reviews). Chef’s Warehouse has easily been on the list of one of the top three restaurants to dine at while in Cape Town. Before Covid, it was almost impossible to get a reservation. The silver lining is that less tourists means locals are able to explore Cape Town’s world renown restaurants. As I mentioned earlier there were decisions to be made. Personally, I prefer tasting menus when dining alone where all you do is sit, eat, drink and be merry. All the tapas looked delicious and all the entrees definitely big enough for sharing.
The Calamares Tapa I ordered was absolutely perfect. The right combination of savory with slices of chorizo that added a mild spicy kick, anchovies that highlighted the squid by adding a racy saltiness and the fresh squid cooked to a tender perfection. It all came together with the signature layered flavor profile of South African dishes while maintaining the simple vibe of Spanish tapas.
Tip: Ask for bread because you will definitely want to scrape up the sauce!I can not wait to revisit and taste through all the tapas with friends.
I selected the grilled tuna belly as my entree. This dish was much less complex. The tuna belly itself was cooked well with crispy edges and a firm center. Simple seasons: salt, paprika and toasted garlic chips. The natural oil from the fish mixed with the paprika made each bite even more enjoyable. It was served with a parsley and red onion salad. The salad was not my favorite, maybe because I grew up with my grandmother scolding me if ever I tried to eat the parsley garnish on my plate at fancy restaurants. Tip: It's big enough for 2-4 people. If solo take half home it makes for a great protein in any salad.
Newton Johnson - 100% Albarino. Full bodied, fruity, med plus acidity, leafy green granny smith (tart) apple. You know that one with the shiny ski.
Fram - Palomino dominated with Chenin and Honey pot. Medium body, med acidity, under ripe pineapple, apple flesh-no skin.
AA Badenhorst Spookberg - Old Vine Palomino.Understated, Light body, low acidity, very mild fruit flavors, earth, slight nutty, natural flavors with a hint of saltiness on the finish. (It’s like that one friend who doesn't talk much but is super interesting)
Tuanni Price, the owner of Zuri Wine Tasting. A wine Enthusiast and adventurer, loves everything about the wine experience