Shimmy Beach Club has a long-standing reputation as Cape Town’s premier destination for the fit and the fabulous. Essentially, you’ve probably enjoyed an afternoon at Shimmy at some point, steeping in the effervescent holiday vibe, the live music, cocktails, and delicious food. On weekends, the place is trendy, chic, and sophisticated with several different spaces, each with its own unique feel and atmosphere.
There’s the Shimmy lounge (for those who don’t like sand in their shoes), the whiskey room (for those with a taste for life’s finer things), the restaurant, and the VIP room. Then there’s Shimmy beach (for the young, the bronzed, and the six-packed), the pool deck, and the main bar (all 13 metres of it!). Together, these spaces make Shimmy Beach Club enormous, but each one is impeccably cared for, beautifully presented, and well serviced and I can’t imagine a place that’s more quintessentially Cape Town summer scene than this.
And so it was that I found myself there on a stunning and uncharacteristically windless day to celebrate the launch of the restaurant’s new summer menu. After wandering around to refamiliarise myself with the venue, I helped myself to a welcome kombucha cocktail with a fresh basil leaf embellishment. Once most of the guests has arrived, this was followed by Graham Beck’s devilishly quaffable MCC, the service of which was so generous I don’t think I once saw the bottom of my glass.
To whet our appetites (and take the edge off the booze), we were served an interesting assortment of aperitifs, which were presented on gorgeous little black spoons that, at casual glance, looked just like mussels! Delicately arranged on each spoon was either a spicy chicken, avocado, vanilla pineapple, and Macadamia nut poke or a Norwegian salmon sashimi, avocado, and jalapeno poke. I’m delighted to see that poke (pronounced po-kay) is becoming a “thing” here in Cape Town. This traditional Hawaiian dish of raw fish, various salad ingredients, and an Asian influenced dressing, is similar to ceviche, except the fish isn’t denatured by acidic lime juice. It’s nice to see that Shimmy is expanding their raw fish repertoire to include this delicious, light, and summery dish.
With appetites whet to a razor edge and the corks on the wine bottles popped, the talented team behind the new menu made an appearance: Executive Chef Adrian Cook and Head Chef Michael Keating. At Shimmy’s restaurant, they prioritize the use of locally produced seasonal ingredients, which is wholly evident in the menu. They’ve also introduced the concept of compiling your own plate by choosing your protein (grilled fillet, rump, rack of lamb, rotisserie chicken, or pork belly) and one or more sides to accompany it. Rather than having fixed dishes, they’ve opted for a flexible menu that allows guests to order exactly what they want. The menu also features a braai platter for two and a huge variety of vegetarian dishes, effectively catering to everyone’s tastes.
With speeches out of the way, the starters were served: four beautifully plated bite-sized samples of various dishes that appear on Shimmy’s new summer menu. There was a mini Heirloom tomato salad with Parma ham, melon, and mozzarella; a fresh local black mussel in a spicy teriyaki and beer sauce; a mini-Thai salmon and tuna fishcake; and a biltong, feta, peppadew and spinach quiche. Choosing a favourite of the lot proved impossible but I did love the spicy teriyaki and beer sauce with the mussel and the quiche was incredibly good.
Next up were mains, which were accompanied by a choice of Nederburg’s The Winemasters 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (crisp and medium bodied with tropical and herbaceous notes) and The Winemasters 2015 Shiraz (big and bold with plum, cherry, chocolate, and spice on the nose and palate). Once again, the plates were beautifully presented with four mini-versions of dishes off the summer menu. They were a lamb “lollipop” with chickpea and feta salad; a mini-burger with bacon; a tender sesame-seared Norwegian salmon served with mirin (a type of rice wine), soy glaze, and tender-stem broccoli; and a sweet and succulent cider-braised pork belly bite with crackling. If I were forced to choose a favourite, it would have been the salmon, but considerable force would be necessary.
Finally, dessert, and here I need to pause for dramatic effect….
Typically, in any three or four-course meal, the experience reaches a crescendo around mains and tapers off to a sweet finish with dessert. Yet, Shimmy’s final course was so utterly outstanding, it ended the meal on a high note. Pineapple fridge tart, guava cheesecake, velvety bar-one mousse, and – the pièce de résistance – the popcorn brûlée featuring two of my favourite things on one plate: a marriage ordained by the Gods. If I ever meet Shimmy’s pastry chef, Anina Mans, I will probably beg her to marry my brother.
Shimmy Beach Club lives up to its reputation and then some. It’s a beautiful venue in a location with breath-taking ocean views; there’s no shortage of spaces in which to chill out or party, and now I can safely say that the food is of an exceptional calibre. If you don’t head to Shimmy this summer, you’re missing out!
Check out Shimmy Beach Club’s new Summer Menu.