The winter season has settled deeply into the Cape; the last few weeks of rain (glorious rain!), icy temperatures, and roaring north-westerly winds have made that abundantly clear. But with the bad weather comes the good: those hearty and decadent winter restaurant specials that are designed to coax people from the cocoons of their fluffy onesies and the comfort of their homes. The Shortmarket Club is no different, and its current winter special makes the incredible gastronomic experience offered by this august restaurant accessible to one and all.
About The Shortmarket Club
Located in a charming heritage building, where else (?), Shortmarket Street in the city centre, The Shortmarket Club resides in the upper echelons of Cape Town’s restaurants. This is unsurprising since its progenitor is Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen fame. Open since June 2016, The Shortmarket Club is the product of a partnership between Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, his wife Sandalene, his top chef Wesley Randles, and manager Simon Widdison. Together, they have created a restaurant with a formidable reputation for serving outstanding food in a venue that is glamorous, sophisticated, and club-like without being pretentious or over-the-top.
What’s on the (set) menu?
The current Prix Fixe winter menu is a set three-course menu (vegetarian option available) going for only R280 per person with a carafe of Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir costing an additional R55 or R100 respectively. In reality, it’s more like a five-course meal… but more on that in a moment.
Now, some may find the fixed nature of the winter menu somewhat restrictive, but The Shortmarket Club has earned its reputation for good reason! And putting our full trust in Chef Wesley Randles, we embarked upon an adventure of gastronomy that began with that most quintessential of winter indulgences: freshly baked bread. Delivered on a pushcart and served with house-churned butter, a light whipped cream cheese, and a dip of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sherry, the bread was a course in itself.
Next up was an appetiser of springbok tartar laced with Parmesan cheese and crispy endives. This didn’t appear on the prix fixe menu we were handed upon arrival, and so it was a very pleasant surprise and succeeded in whetting our appetites for the “official” three-course meal that followed.
The starter was, again, delivered by cart. Tender cubes of tuna belly served on a swath of sambal oelek (an Indonesian curry paste) and topped with basil, coriander, onion, and sesame seeds. Having a deep-seated love of zingy, fresh salads with interesting ingredients, I was already excited about this one, but it was made all the better with the food theatre that preceded it.
Using a blowtorch, the waitron heated a tiny saucepan of coconut oil. He then spooned the fragrant, scorching oil over the tuna, which sizzled and popped as it seared. The performance was finished off with a generous squeeze of lime from a contraption that would have passed for a 15th Century torture device before the plates were placed, bursting with mouth-watering aromas, before us.
The main course
Typically, one doesn’t think of white, flaky fish as winter fare, but Chef Wesley’s preparation of the black bream fillet for mains was not only absolutely delicious, but also rich and belly-warming. The fillet itself had been cooked to perfection – crispy skin and soft, white flesh – and was served with a lemon and tarragon velouté, fried panisse (chickpea finger), and a green bulgur wheat and roasted turnip salad. Of special mention was the smoked mussel aioli, which I would purchase by the truckload and slather over everything that I eat should they ever decide to bottle and sell it.
The final course was rhubarb crumble and pine nut ice cream that delivered layer upon layer of texture, from crunchy nuggets of rusk to velvety soft mascarpone Catalan.
I consider R280 for three, well, five courses of absolutely beautiful food served in the spectacular venue that is The Shortmarket Club an absolute steal. And the choice of red and white wine pairing, of which we chose the Paul Cluver Pinot Noir, is fabulous and well suited. There wasn’t a dish this elegant red didn’t keep up with.
If you haven’t yet enjoyed a meal at The Shortmarket Club, you have until 30th September to cash in on this truly incredible deal at one of Cape Town’s very best restaurants.
Bookings: 021 447 2874 or www.theshortmarketclub.co.za