No smears, soils, spumas, or strangled ingredients: The Stack delivers an authentic, hearty summer menu
Cliché or not, there’s simply no better way to describe The Stack other than to call it a “hidden gem”, which is in keeping with Cape Town’s perfectly charming habit of tucking incredible establishments into quiet side streets, behind stands of manicured vegetation, or within unassuming neighbourhoods. The Stack is, all at once, a restaurant, bar, lounge, and member’s club but to those who frequent this flamboyantly designed establishment, it’s much more than any of these things…
The Stack is a quiet breakfast spot, the best cocktail in Cape Town, a romantic dinner date, a whisky on the veranda; it is a respite from the stresses of the workweek, a reliably excellent steak, a thrumming social spot, and a smiling barman who knows you by name. It’s even got private meeting and dining rooms! The Stack is a second home that nurtures relationships with its guests, welcoming them back as (literal and figurative) members of a family.
Now, they’ve launched their new summer menu and it was our task to put it to the test. It’s hard work but somebody’s got to do it!
Welcome drink in the bar
Tucked away off Weltevreden Street in Gardens, The Stack quite literally flies under the radar. If it weren’t for the car park out front, one might think they’ve accidentally stumbled upon someone’s home – a very nice, historic home complete with an enormous patio, a flowering jacaranda tree, and burbling water fountain. Rumour has it that this building used to house an old gentleman’s club: a tradition The Stack has proudly continued with the notable difference that you don’t need to be a grizzled old man to enter, and they don’t discriminate against women. Thank goodness for that because I was in dire need of a drink.
Upon arrival, we took our seats at the bar (admiring the green malachite print armchairs) and ordered a cocktail to kick off the evening. We then toured The Stack, including the upstairs member’s only section. Forget smoky, dimly lit interiors, floor-to-ceiling libraries, leather upholstered armchairs, and cantankerous old farts debating politics… The Stack’s interior is dressed in a cacophony of gaudy colours, stunning wallpapers, and animal print patterns and its clientele is anyone and everyone with an appetite for good company, food, and beverages. They also run a bevvy of great deals and specials, which makes it an accessible option for Capetonians on a budget.
So far so good!
Three-course meal at the Brasserie
We then migrated to the restaurant, the Brasserie, which was a little more restrained and elegant in its décor, yet still bursting with personality. We wasted little time diving head first into the menu with absolutely delicious starters of Oak Valley beef rump tartare, a toasted sourdough croute, and saffron aioli; and the duck and mushroom terrine with homemade brioche, pickled exotic mushrooms, and fresh apple.
For mains, we had the grilled rack of lamb with pearl onion tarte tatin (slice of carb heaven), roasted vine tomatoes, and onion purée; and the seared springbok loin with potato rosti, pea purée, tiny mushrooms, and port jus. For this course, I whipped out The Stack’s wine list, which has recently been updated and reinvigorated with some excellent choices from the Cape winelands. We chose an emperor of a Bordeaux-style blend: the Warlord 2016 from Cavalli Estate and it went beautifully with our meat dishes.
We kept dessert simple: a crème brûlée, which The Stack does to perfection.
What I absolutely loved about our food experience was the sheer quality and unpretentiousness of it all. As they say on their website: “No smears, no soils, no spumas, froths, or strangled ingredients. The Brasserie is authentic, hearty, good, and true French.”
The Stack may describe its restaurant as bistro-style but the food here is so beautifully crafted, presented, and flavoured that I feel compelled to describe it as fine dining.
A lasting impression
The Stack takes something that could be considered a bit of a stuffy, old-fashioned notion – a member’s club – and makes it fun, accessible, and approachable. Of course, you don’t need to “join the club” to experience The Stack in all its glory because its exceptional bar, restaurant, and gardens are open to one and all for breakfast, lunch, cocktails, dinner, wine, catch-ups, dates, or whatever else it is you need in your life to rejuvenate mind, body, and soul.
The Stack is open Monday to Friday 08:00 to 23:00, Saturdays 10:00 to 23:00, and Sundays 11:00 to 17:00. For more information, check out the website at www.thestack.co.za or call 021 286 0187.