“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.”
The last time I visited The Stack, I was inspired to write these very words. The purpose of my visit then was to mow my way through three luscious courses of summer-inspired bistro-style cuisine, sink a gorgeous, velvety bottle of wine, and…oh something about writing a review about the experience.
Now that the seasons have shifted, the temperatures plummeted, and the pool filled to the brim with rainwater and those confounding purple berries from the garden’s waterbessiebome, it’s time once again to make my pilgrimage back to The Brasserie at The Stack. The purpose? To mow my way through three luscious courses of winter-inspired bistro-style cuisine, to sink a gorgeous, velvety bottle of wine, and…oh something about writing a review about the experience.
The Stack winter special: R235 for a two-course meal or R275 for three.
Fireside warm-up in the bar
I can never be too bent out of shape when the weather socks in on a day on which we are called out to experience a restaurant’s winter menu. After all, what better occasion is there to satiate the body’s need for hearty, winter fare (read: thick sauces, crispy fats, and steaming carbohydrates) than on a blustery winter day? Well, at a grand high of 14 degrees Celsius, the weather “played along” fabulously with our evening plans and so, bundled up to the chins, we sought refuge within the stoic Georgian-style building that houses The Stack and its restaurant, The Brasserie.
One cannot – should not – stop in at The Stack without a welcome cocktail or glass of wine at the bar, the Georgian bones of which house a melange of Bohemian colour (emerald green walls, plush, plum-coloured bar chairs, and bar-top pineapples) and Victorian embellishments (ornate fireplace, brass sconces, and enormous ceiling roses). We planted ourselves in the corner closest to the fireplace and warmed up with a glass of L’Ormarins Brut MCC and the 2018 Felicité Pinot Noir from Newton Johnson Family Wines.
Sufficiently warmed, we took our seats in the adjacent dining room, The Brasserie, also the love child of a threesome between Bohemian, Victorian, and Georgian design. Some might call the theatrical orange curtains, leopard-print carpeted stairs, and boldly patterned walls “kitsch”. Well, I say that The Stack is so intentionally gaudy in exuberant colour, pattern, and design that I found it totally enchanting: like you’ve stumbled down a rabbit hole into some wonderland where the design rulebook has been enthusiastically tossed out of the window.
I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a broadly smiling cat taking a nap on one of the windowsills.
The Winter Special
The Brasserie is currently offering a truly enticing winter special of R235 for two courses or R275 for three, which is really goedkoop when you consider how well executed and generous the dishes are. The Brasserie’s cuisine is French in influence and honest in delivery – to quote the verbiage on the website: “We love proper food. No smears, no soils, no spumas, froths, or strangled ingredients.”
In other words: if you order a steak, you won’t receive something the size of a Lego piece taking a bubble bath on your plate in some exotically fragranced spuma.
For starters we had a delicious, lightly curried cream soup of West Coast mussels and the pan-fried veal sweetbreads (liver) with carrot and orange emulsion, sautéed chard, and delicate, long-stemmed mushrooms. Given our tendency to seriously overdo it at these multi-course dinner experiences, we opted to share a single course for mains: a tenderly grilled springbok loin with a crispy braised shank spring roll, red cabbage puree, heavenly roasted garlic flan, and red wine chocolate sauce. The promise of the lattermost ingredient was what sold the dish to me but while we didn’t actually detect it on the plate, everything was so absolutely divine we only realised after we’d practically licked the plate clean.
For a sweet ending, we chose the butterscotch crème brûlée with sage madeleine and chocolate sticky toffee pudding. Accompanying our delectable winter meal was a bottle of the versatile, the silky, and the elegant Felicité Pinot Noir 2018, with its earthy nuances, red berries, and vibrant spices flirting wondrously with each of our three courses.
I was impressed with The Stack the first time I sat down to a glass of wine in the bar and a meal at The Brasserie. And I was impressed again this time. The food is quite simply delicious and generously proportioned, the atmosphere beguiling, and the service friendly and professional. The Stack is considered by many to be an institution and it’s not hard to appreciate why when you see its seats getting filled by locals, even on a cold winter’s evening.
Regardless of the weather, this is a place of perennial pleasure.
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.
7 Weltevreden Street, Gardens, Cape Town