Lunch at Bilboa in Camps Bay

Our meal at Bilboa was a prime example of the power food holds to turn your mood around.

We headed out to try the newest addition to the Camps Bay strip one recent Sunday, heading out from home in Kenilworth. Before we’d even reached Kloof Nek, we were greeted by bumper-to-bumper traffic, and the sort of wind that makes newspaper headlines. Arriving late and flustered to our lunch, I’ll admit that we were not in the best of moods.

After some sparkling water and a minute to take in our surroundings – and the views – we were able to take a breath and start afresh. And, good thing we did. The latest addition to the Kove Collection, Bilboa has taken over the old Blues Restaurant spot in Camps Bay. With the collection’s signature muted and minimalist interior, the restaurant is quite large, with views across the palm trees and ocean, as well as a lounge-slash-bar upstairs.

In terms of food, they focus heavily on seafood, with a North African – Middle Eastern slant. Dukkah, preserved lemon, saffron, roasted red pepper and Israeli couscous are just some of the flavours you can expect to find on this – honestly, quite delicious, menu.

We started with a glass each of wine – the Delaire Graff Shiraz for me and Iona’s Mr P Knows Pinot Noir for Luke, and tucked into fresh ciabatta, while we made our choices from the menu. Taking our waiter’s suggestions into consideration, we went with the crispy prawns with preserved lemon and chilli pepper and baby squid with roasted red pepper purée, clams and olives to start, followed by the fillet with red chimichurri, flatbread and yoghurt and the lamb shank with couscous, granny smith apples, sultanas, pistachios, coriander and lemon.

Both starters were delicious and beautifully presented, but it was the prawns that was the standout dish – quite possibly of the entire lunch. Light and crunchy, sweet and aromatic, they were the perfect start to lunch – enough to take the edge off your hunger, but still leave you wanting more.

The squid dish was beautiful, savoury and tasty and absolutely delivered everything it promised – but I feel almost everything will pale in comparison to the prawns.

The lamb shank is definitely a dish that shouts “you won’t leave hungry” – although, to be fair, neither of us did – but, Luke didn’t quite manage too scrape his plate clean. Rich and tender, it was a hearty dish that really showcased the restaurant’s North African flavour profile.

For something lighter, there’s the beef fillet, which you can either have per 100 grams, or as it comes on the menu – we went with the latter. Tender beef with an earthy, spicy chimichurri, yoghurt and tender flatbread – it was a very tasty dish, and the perfect portion size when enjoyed with one or two other courses. It also came with an option of side dishes – I opted for the roasted carrots with thyme, coriander and garlic – and was very happy with my choice.

We decided to hedge our bets for dessert, and give in to gluttony – by each ordering a dessert. Luke went with the lemon tart with roasted meringue, lemon curd and yoghurt ice cream, while I went with the baked chocolate with salted hazelnuts, Kahlua jelly and coffee ice cream. Both were delicious, but my baked chocolate was the unanimous winner of this round. Rich, dense and with the perfect amount of sweetness, it was a fantastic end to the meal. Special mention needs to be made of the little cubes of jelly – which, was the part of the dish I was most hesitant about – but, turned out to be one of the stand-out elements. Not only was the flavour spot on, but the texture was perfect. Tricky to get right for any jelly, as you can easily be left with inedible bouncy cubes, but even harder when there’s alcohol involved.

So, the verdict? It’s a standout meal for us – with each dish delivering on its promise, and more than one exceeding expectations. Not one fault, which, I don’t say often. Highly recommended.

Note: We enjoyed our meal as guests of Bilboa. All views and images are my own.

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