There’s a new restaurant in town but you won’t find it in any suburb, on any street, or down any alley…that’s because it’s not located on terra firma at all but rather on the gently undulating surface of Cape Town’s harbour water! The Alba Restaurant is the first of its kind in the Mother City: a fully equipped and professionally serviced fine dining restaurant aboard a boat.
The boat departs from a pier at Cape Town’s famous V&A Waterfront and, for two leisurely hours, performs a slow circuit of the harbour, affording guests spectacular and breath-taking views of Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town, which sprawls out at her feet. After sunset, the view changes to one of inky blackness punctuated by the glittering lights of the V&A Waterfront and the harbour’s resident ocean vessels and industry.
How it all works
Monday to Sunday, the Alba Restaurant does three daily runs around the harbour for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Monday to Saturday and then again on Sunday, they do an afternoon cocktail (or wine) cruise accompanied by canapés; and then, on Saturdays and Saturdays only, they run an upscale high tea cruise in the harbour. Birthdays, anniversaries, bridal showers, end-of-year functions…there isn’t an occasion – special or otherwise – that cannot be appropriately celebrated on this super fun and special harbour cruise.
We boarded Alba Restaurant’s handsome vessel for their dinner service, which, for R695 per guest, included a welcome flute of Durbanville Hills’ summery sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, a three-course menu paired with wine from the Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Range, and tea and coffee. (Guests can choose draught beer or cold beverages over wine if they prefer).
Arrival and three-course meal with wine pairing
The noble steed upon which the Alba Restaurant is perched is a sleek, 22-metre long boat with wrap-around glass windows and enough seating for 72 guests or a cocktail party of 100. The interior is simple yet sophisticated and comfortable with the almost 360-degree view taking full attention.
For starters, I ordered the citrus cured salmon served with baby greens on a swath of sweet beetroot purée. The main course was an impossible conundrum. How could one realistically be expected to choose between slow-roasted Springbok shank in mixed berry juice and a seafood platter groaning with a medley of delicious ocean morsels? Thankfully, that’s what plus one’s are for and so we ordered both and I was able to sample both. Score!
The Springbok shank was accompanied by potato mash, caramelised onions, and red cabbage, while the seafood platter was loaded with tiger, king, and queen prawns (a veritable chessboard of prawns), grilled catch of the day, and west coast mussels and was served with lemon-infused basmati rice. The dish was tasty but next time we’ll order an extra sauce or butter to moisten the rice.
The final flourish – dessert – was a dark chocolate mousse served with a fresh strawberry in a white chocolate cup with milk chocolate truffles that sneakily packed a touch of chilli, which comes as quite a surprise after the burn hits the back of your throat.
All in all, we enjoyed the food and the harbour cruise was a lovely adventure, and our server/hostess was so incredibly warm, likable, and attentive that she made us want to invite her to sit down and share a glass of wine with us! The food was beautifully presented, the service outstanding, and the wine served generously throughout the evening.
And, let’s not forget, you’re on a boat, which is just so much fun! The Alba Restaurant is a wonderful way to celebrate special or anytime occasions and it sent us home giddy with memories of our evening.