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Cape Town’s Culinary Talents Shine: Eat Out Awards 2019

A dish at La Colombe

The Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards are the Oscars of South Africa’s culinary accolades. Launched in 1998 and presented at an awards celebration held in November, the annual Eat Out Restaurant Awards celebrate the South African restaurant industry, with accolades including the Top 10 Restaurants, Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year and more.

The winning restaurants were determined by the scores of a panel of anonymous judges, headed up by accolated Chief Judge Margot Janse, who dined around the country unannounced and scored the restaurants against the rigorous judging criteria in line with international standards.

This year, Cape Town and the Western Cape scooped up most of the awards, taking nine out of the top 10 spots, including the number one place! So without further ado, make sure to add these hot spots to your Cape Town culinary bucket list.

1. La Colombe (Constantia, Cape Town)

Up from third place last year, La Colombe’s menu of delightfully quirky dishes inspired by local flavours skyrocketed them to the number one spot this year. They also rank in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards earlier this year. Chef James Gaag and his team have mastered a French flair but unique style of cuisine and impeccable service. We love sister restaurant La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek, which ranked at sixth place this year.

2. The Test Kitchen (Woodstock, Cape Town)

Holding steady at position number two for two years in a row, The Test Kitchen, steered by Chef Luke Dale Roberts, remains a firm favourite with the judges and public. Precise attention to detail, and a dining experience that is adventurous in every way are just two of the reasons why our Golden Keys concierge loves recommending TTK to our guests. Innovation is at the heart of their continued success, and this is evident in Luke Dale Robert’s ever-expanding array of dining establishments, including the new Salsify, which we dined at and wrote more about here. Salsify nabbed eighth place, so you can be sure that it is a winning experience

3. The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Somerset West)

Last year’s winning restaurant is still a shining star. The wine pairings, exquisite setting with vineyard as well as sea views, and freshly interpreted French cuisine make for an unforgettable experience. Chef Gregory Czarnecki tells a nostalgic tale in four or eight-course menus, infusing his dishes with a lot of personality and love.

4. Wolfgat (Paternoster)

This pocket-sized restaurant on the West Coast packs a punch! Named Best Restaurant in the World at the World Restaurant Awards (held earlier this year in Paris), this Paternoster gem, captained by Chef Kobus van der Merwe, reflects the beachy surroundings in their dishes, which are pared down, pure and rather perfect.

5. FYN (City Bowl)

A brand new entry, FYN, opened this year by Ashley Moss and Peter Tempelhoff, quickly rose to fame for its theatrical interplay of Japanese and South African flavours. We love this moody inner-city dining experience that’s all marble, exposed cement and impressive lighting, where bento boxes contain unexpected morsels like samoosas. Read our five-star full review here and then hurry off and book a seat.

The Full Top 10 restaurants:

  1. La Colombe (Constantia, Cape Town)
  2. The Test Kitchen (Woodstock, Cape Town)
  3. The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Somerset West)
  4. Wolfgat (Paternoster)
  5. FYN Restaurant (City Bowl, Cape Town)
  6. La Petite Colombe (Franschhoek)
  7. Eike (Stellenbosch)
  8. Salsify (Camps Bay, Cape Town)
  9. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Elandsfontein, Pretoria)
  10. Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia, Cape Town)

The Eat Out Awards are a reflection of the ongoing excellence of the restaurants we are lucky to be surrounded by in South Africa. If you would like to make the most of them while staying with us, speak to our Cape Grace Concierge Team – they are passionate foodies who love booking their best-loved dining spots in the Cape and beyond for visiting guests.

Explore and Experience, Featured – 10 of Cape Town’s Top Restaurants with Fireplaces

‘Tis the season to get toasty! Bring out the red wine, hearty dishes and cozy up to our top restaurants with fireplaces this winter. From roaring hearths to sleek gas features, we have rounded up the most memorable of the crackling lot. Choose your ideal nook and nestle in.   1. Aubergine Best for: Fusion…

1. Aubergine

Best for: Fusion flair

Consistently rated as one of Cape Town’s best restaurants, Aubergine combines rich history with contemporary flair, not to mention their world-class wine list! In winter, they light up their charcoal fireplace, which warms up the interior of their sophisticated and historic spot in Gardens (the former home of the first Chief Justice of the Cape). We recommend taking advantage of their excellent Winter Bistro Menu, and selecting a hearty red to savour while the fire crackles.
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2. Kloof Street House

Best for: Date night

Kloof Street House

This Kloof Street must boasts three fireplaces, so your chances of nabbing a seat next to one of them is fairly high. It is also one of the most well-loved and iconic places to dine in Cape Town, a collection of different rooms and spaces each bursting with an assortment of eclectic decor and character. Enjoy a candle-lit dinner and tuck into the likes of the roasted beets and fried goat’s cheese salad, pan-fried calamari, Norwegian salmon, bouillabaisse or ostrich fillet. To end, always have the baked cheesecake, served with caramelised popcorn.
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3. Asoka

Best for: Jazz, cocktails and tapas


The sister restaurant of Kloof Street House, this petite palace on upper Kloof unfolds from a living olive tree in the centre of the sultry spot. The open fireplace warms the dimly-lit interior where Cape Town’s glamorous set enjoy cocktails and tapas to the sounds of the live jazz bands they play host to. Sip on one of their legendary cocktails (the Orchard Breeze is recommended), and snack on their sharing plates and tapas while you huddle around intimate tables and while away the evening in swinging style.
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4. Cape Grace Library

Best for: Afternoon tea

Afternoon Tea at Cape Grace

Heavy curtains sweep the soft carpets of the hushed library of Cape Grace, where we serve our delectable Afternoon tea – a time-honoured tradition. Pause next to the elegant fireplace and nibble on fresh, crumbly scones piled high with jam, lemon curd and cream, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, irresistible macaroons and artisanal pastries, while you sip on a selection of loose-leaf teas, served in delicate glass teapots. If you’re feeling festive, or simply celebrating life, add a glass of bubbles to your order and toast to some of the best views in Cape Town.
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5. Bascule Bar

Best for: Whisky and tapas

Whisky Tasting at Bascule Bar

Take refuge ‘below deck’ in the nautically-inspired Bascule Bar at Cape Grace. Pull up a leather chair while you browse the whisky menu – one of the most extensive collections in the southern hemisphere! Once you have selected a dram, snack on tasty morsels or go big with the Bascule Speciality – a Wagyu beef burger served with all the trimmings.
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6. Societi Bistro

Best for: A comforting culinary journey

The fireplace as Asoka

Cornerstone of the Cape Town culinary world, Societi Bistro has long been the favourite of locals and visitors alike. Must be something to do with their combo of fantastic (and ever-changing) menus, admirable red wine selection, and simple interior that is all about the wooden floors, exposed bricks, and multiple fireplaces of course. Grab a seat in the main restaurant and enjoy the exceptional staple, the mushroom risotto; or be bold and venture across the globe with Chef Robert Giljam, as he presents 21 menus featuring modest and traditional meals from around the world, each only available for 4 days, and paired with exceptional South African wine. Indulge in the chocolate nemesis to end – it is wickedly good.
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7. Beau Constantia’s Chefs Warehouse

Best for: The views and every little morsel

Bookings fill up fast for this Southern suburb gem that boasts arguably some of the best views in the Cape. In summer, it’s best to spend time outdoors, but winter means no deprivation as the floor to ceiling glass allows for panoramic views of the vineyards while you dine, huddled snugly nearby one of two warming fireplaces. Speaking of which, expect the same glorious set menu that made them famous – Chef Ivor Jones a master at tapas and small plates.
Read our full review here.

8. The Codfather

Best for: Seafood and sushi

The Codfather in Camps Bay is an unpretentious seafood-lovers dream. The model is simple, and the menu is non-existent. Instead, you are chaperoned to the seafood selection where you choose your favourite slices of the freshest shellfish and fish, which is then grilled to perfection and served to the table along with fat-cut fries, rice and greens. The large wood fireplace separates the main part of the restaurant from the equally as appealing sushi bar if that is more your scene. Whatever your choice, do not skip dessert – the brownie is one of the best around!
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9. Cafe Paradiso

Best for: Hearty Italian fare

Cafe Paradiso on upper Kloof Street offers a beautiful setting and a menu that combines classic Meditteranean fare with some South African favourites. In summer, sit outside in the courtyard and soak in the mountain views, and in winter, snuggle up to the fireplace (a feature in all of the Madame Zingara restaurants). Choose a wood-fired pizza, risotto, or truffled pasta, bring along the family (they are very kiddie-friendly) and enjoy!
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10. The Village Idiot

Best for: Fun and frivolity

The Village Idiot is one of Cape Town’s favourite watering holes. The charming colonial fireplace, booths and leather seats are ideal for chillier nights, where you are invited to dive into a beer and enjoy traditional South African cuisine, inspired by ‘braai’ culture. Do not forget to wave at Oskar – the resident ostrich and ‘village idiot’
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Sharing the History of the Cape Town… One Room at a Time

Poised between land and sea, between the ancient Table Mountain and bustle of the working historic harbour that is the V&A Waterfront. We are ideally positioned, not just to explore all the many delights that Cape Town offers, but to delve back into history. Indeed, it is the early formation of the Cape as a refueling station, that has inspired our decor and infused our identity. Antiques, murals, rare furniture and even our bedcovers tell the many tales of the Cape, the story woven throughout every floor and in each and every one of our totally unique 120 rooms. Let us peel back the layers of modernity and take a peek at the early years of the ‘Cape of Good Hope’, and how it marries into the sense of time and place we hope to impart to our guests and visitors with our ‘home away from home’.

The Company’s Gardens

While nomadic indigenous people have long populated the shores of the Cape, Dutch settlers arrived in 1652. They were sent by the Dutch East India Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or simply VOC), with instructions to establish the Cape as a halfway refueling station for ships travelling to Asia. They quickly established the historic Company’s Gardens (still in existence today), to provide the fruit, meat, wine and vegetables, as well as the remarkable canals that channeled freshwater down from the mountain to the gardens below. These too, can be seen in certain parts of the CBD and form a part of the City Cycle Tour.

At Cape Grace, our second floor is home to the Company’s Gardens Two Bedroom Suite. The curtains in the lounge display is a reproduction of the VOC mandate given to the settlers to create a refreshment station for the company, dated 30 December 1651, while the tapestry in the lounge shows a bird’s eye view of the Company Gardens – a reproduction of an etching created in 1719 by Peter Kolbe.

Citrus was a key part of the VOC plantings, and this is captured in the Lemon Bedroom. Lastly, in another bedroom, the bedcover is a stylised layout of the Company’s Gardens, with the broad strip carrying the scientific names of many of the Cape’s flora.

Of Food and Fine China

The Dutch were quickly followed by the first wave of Asian immigrants, who were banished to the Cape by the Dutch Batavian High Court. The mix of skilled artisans, slaves and even royalty, formed the basis of our Cape Malay population, with many families settling in the much-photographed colourful Bo Kaap area. At Cape Grace, our style of cuisine is directly influenced by our Malayan heritage, Chef Malika van Reenen deft at weaving the heavenly spices, scents, and flavours into aromatic culinary delights inspired by over 300 years of Cape cooking.

Of course, as a port, ship life was and continues to be an important part of the Cape (if maritime history intrigues you, we strongly recommend that you visit the Chavonnes Battery Museum, where you can actually stand on Cape Town’s original shoreline).

Cape Town’s treacherous shores meant that ships often met a watery end (we have the rescued ship’s manifests and broken china to prove it). However, the ones that made it through, were often laden with treasures, sourced from Japan, China, Europe and Indonesia. Much of our decor pays homage to ships and popular finery that met our shores.

Imari was the name of the port in Japan that controlled the Japanese porcelain, most of it being sourced from a town called Arita. It was in the 1640’s that new techniques were introduced into the processes that enabled the ceramicists to work with colours, such as red and gold. Over the years the red, blue, white and gold porcelain became known as simply Imari, and often recorded in inventories of Cape Town homes – symbols of wealth for gentry and officials. In our Imari Three Bedroom Suite, the tapestry in the living room depicts reproductions of various Imari plates, combined with names of select VOC ships. The three bedrooms respectively showcase Imari porcelain, Japanese lace and the story of the voyages undertaken to bring these to the Cape.

Ironically, despite the fact that the Dutch East India Company (VOC) held the monopoly on the export of Japanese porcelain between 1656 and 1756, collectors at the Cape had to acquire these pieces surreptitiously as they did not form part of the official local imports.

The Castle of Good Hope

Image by Craig Howes

We could not speak about the history of the Cape without mentioning the castle! The Castle of Good Hope, the first permanent European fortification in the area, began in 1666. Finally completed in 1679, the castle is the oldest building in South Africa.

At Cape Grace, this vital piece of history is brought to life in the Castle of Good Hope Two Bedroom Suite. The tapestry in the lounge showcases the Castle layout surround by the names of the five bastions. The Castle layout is a reproduction of an etching published in 1719 by German astronomer Peter Kolbe, commissioned by the Dutch government to compile an all-round description of the Cape.

Finishing off with Furniture

The Cape Grace collection is one of the most important and comprehensive public collections of furniture and artifacts owned by and displayed in a hotel in South Africa. The collection consists of more than 300 pieces of original antiques that were all made or used locally.

The term Cape Furniture refers to all furniture made at the Cape between 1700 and 1900. Society in this far-away colony was highly stratified right from the beginning of the Colonial Period, and the furniture that was made locally reflects this social segregation. Three main categories can be identified: Patrician Furniture, Country Furniture and Folk Furniture.

Around the Governor and other top officials of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) a patrician society soon started to express its own standards and tastes. This resulted in the development of a Patrician Furniture, popularly referred to as “town” furniture. It was made for and used by the wealthy officials who lived in 18th and early 19th century Cape Town.

Cape Country Furniture forms the biggest part of the Cape Furniture heritage. Even though Country Furniture took its stylistic inspiration from the more sophisticated Patrician Furniture made in Cape Town, these pieces were anything but second-best or watered-down copies.
 Furniture with a robust character and made from a combination of light and dark timbers was popular. Most of the country pieces were made by qualified craftsmen who adapted the patrician fashions to suit their clients’ tastes and aesthetic sensibility.

Finally, Folk Furniture was made in remote locations by craftsmen and women who often had little or no official training. This genre developed out of necessity; in this case, the needs of the farmers and pioneers who travelled to the deep country in search of opportunities. With limited access to professional furniture makers, these intrepid men and women had to make everything they needed, including their own furniture, often using nothing more than a pocketknife and the endemic timbers they found in the veld.

Iconic pieces from each distinct category are dotted throughout the hotel. We invite guests to ‘hunt’ them down, ticking them off the list available from concierge. For those invested in learning more about antiques and art in the Cape, we also offer an exclusive day-long tour. Speak to our concierge for more information and availability.

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