We were recently invited to the pre-launch of the new 126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe at the Hilton Cape Town hotel.
Having walked passed the hotel for years, when I used to work in town, I remember the distinctive quaggas outside the entrance – which still serve as landmarks to passers by on Buitengracht Street. While I know the exterior well, I’m now ashamed to admit I’d never been inside – which is even more of a pity now, considering the extent of the renovations they have just completed. I’ll just have to imagine the “before and after” in my head.
The invitation arrived a few weeks ago, with a selection of biscuits and a bag of Rooibos Chocolate Truffle tea – so, I’ll admit, I was intrigued from the outset. And, while we’re admitting things, I feel I should let you know I used that teabag more than once – it was delicious.
On arrival, we were greeted by the elegant and spacious foyer, and a selection of vibrant juices. Delicious – and a hint at the fact that the restaurant is fully Halaal – something I didn’t realise until half-way through our meal, while chatting to a Halaal blogger at the table. I think it just further shows that if food is delicious, you don’t notice that there aren’t any pork products or alcohol involved. That also leads us to the restaurant’s innovative tea-pairing – in lieu of wine.
Using premium Ronneveldt teas, we enjoyed five courses, each paired with a particular tea – think organic Matcha, Spring Darjeeling and Masala Chai. While the food is exceptional, the team is clear about this not being fine dining, but rather fun dining. The atmosphere is relaxed and elegant, allowing the vibrant food to speak for itself.
As far as dishes go, you can expect plates such as goats’ cheese rolled in blackened leek, yuzu and palm sugar pickled baby beetroot with oven dried tomato and edible flowers. I was also treated to a ris-oat-to – a risotto made with oats, and a first for me. Packed with umami, thanks to miso and mushrooms, it was delicious comfort food at its very best. There were no disappointed faces at the table.
Their menu is divided into different themes, with “Pure” – the vegetarian menu – catching my eye – and one I’d definitely like to return to experience from start to finish. The entire philosophy behind the restaurant has been very carefully thought out – minimising paper wastage by having iPad menus, custom-made crockery (that is also available for purchase) and African and Asian elements incorporated into the decor through design and material choices.
If you are looking for a different dining experience that caters to all tastes, then I highly recommend paying 126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe a visit. We can’t wait to return.
We enjoyed our meal as guests of the Hilton Hotel. All views and images are my own.