If there was a gap on the halaal scene in Cape Town, it was that of proper fine dining. The Hilton Hotel Cape Town has managed to fill that gap and is taking fully halaal dining in Cape Town to the next level.
I was one of a small group of foodie bloggers and trusted partners who were invited to the pre-launch of the new 126 Cape Kitchen and Café. Walking in to the hotel lobby I was struck with the complete transformation of the space. What was before an elegant lobby to begin with has now evolved into an exquisite display of beauty and form. The juxtaposition of malaysian laser cut screens with heavy teak tables, plush dining chairs and ultra modern lighting and chandeliers makes for an impressive entrance.
The previously dimly lit area has been brightened up by removing walls and opening up spaces making way for an open plan dining area that looks right into the kitchen where expert chefs toil away creating magic on plates.
We were welcomed by Marc Schumacher, the General Manager of the hotel who took us through the many changes that have transformed the hotel lobby and dining area. After a delicious welcome drink we were serenaded by the Malay Choir from the Bo Kaap before being showed though to the dining area.
The restaurant serves a very unique menu offering flavours from South Africa, Asia and Malaysia to create a culinary experience of not only fine dining but fun dining. Fun because they have turned the idea of dining in courses a bit on it’s head. The menu is divided into six categories: Cleansing, Texture, Unique, Twist, Create Memories, and Pure. These are designed to provide a culinary tour of emotions and tastes that engage the five senses. So you would choose a dish or more out of any of the 6 sections to make up your meal and any dish could serve as a main or starter and some even double as dessert. They also offer a unique food and tea paring menu. The menus are seasonally driven by sourcing sustainable local ingredients.
Executive Chef Yusuf Abrajee who heads the team at 126
Executive Chef Yusuf Abrajee who creates these experiences opened the evening with a short welcome before heading off to the kitchen to take charge. We were to experience a 5 course Signature Dish and Tea pairing. We started with the BLACKENED GOATS’ CHEESE AND BEETROOT SALAD – Goats’ cheese rolled in blackened leek, yuzu & palm sugar pickled baby beetroot, oven dried tomato, edible flowers paired with Spring Darjeeling tea. The creamy cheese and tangy beetroot were perfectly complemented with a touch of citrus on beautiful ceramic plates, each one unique. The light darjeeling tea was mild and paired well with the light dish to start with. The crockery which was being used in the restaurant we were told by Marc was uniquely created for the hotel by local artists. It is also available to be ordered from them if you wanted to buy it.
Our second course from the Twist menu was KAROO LAMB BREDIE RAVIOLI – Tender mutton ravioli, pea & mint veloute, onion chips. The spicy masala flavoured sauce was the twist here because you’re expecting Italian flavours, it being ravioli and get hit with eastern spice – delicious! This was paired with the Taiwan Ti Dung tea.
Next up was the SEARED DUKKAH CRUSTED TUNA LOIN – Saffronated daikon, preserved turnips & radishes, matcha gel, grissini from the Cleansing menu paired with a lovely and deep Matcha Horai tea served in tiny but extremely heavy cast iron cups. While I do enjoy tuna Sashimi I must admit I did not enjoy this dish too much. I took far more pleasure in the Matcha tea.
Speciality teas from Ronnefeldt are served on the menu.
Next followed the CRISPY DUCK DUO – Crispy duck breast, duck cigar, baby vegetables, sweet potato & orange puree, smoked maldon salt, char sui jus from the Texture menu. While the duck was tasty, more so if you enjoy the extra fat on duck meat, for the star here was the tea that accompanied the dish. A rich and aromatic Rooibos Chocolate Truffle. The golden brew poured into it’s tiny white opaque goblet made for a delicate picture. The white goblet empty too soon of this heavenly elixir.
Our final course was a coffee pannacotta with roasted banana paired with a spicy masala chai – tastes of home which rounded the meal off nicely. After a 5 course meal one would expect to be rolling out of the restaurant, but each dish was light and I was not uncomfortable at the end of the night. If you’re a big eater, there are plenty of heavier choices on the menu as well.
Menu’s are presented electronically on tabs, – swissh…….
Prices are not cheap. The average price of our signature dishes was R150. But the level of service and quality of product and presentation duly qualifies the price. We were quite spoiled this night. A delicious experience which I know 126 Cape Kitchen and Café aims to emulate with all it’s patrons.
They will be officially opening on Mother’s Day – 14 May 2017. The Mezbaan Restaurant will then be officially closed down to make way for the hotel’s executive lounge.
The restaurant is open at specific hours during the day. However 126 Cape Café is an all day cafe that offers caffeine lovers, food enthusiasts and everyone in between a unique experience.
With its stylish yet comfortable atmosphere, guests feel immediately at ease and are invited to sit back and relax with a great range of exotic teas and coffees.
Teas from around the world will be at the heart of 126 Cape Café. Experience tea and pastry pairing experience that unlocks flavours in a way you have never experienced before. The eatery offers a small yet extensive food menu comprising various tapas and light meals, daily baked pastries and cakes.
Reviewed: 12 May 2017
Breakfast, Dinner, Fine Dining, Lunch,
Medium | R100 - R300, Pricey | R300 - R600, Exclusive | R600 and above,