I wrote about the soft launch of Shortmarket Club and some of the amazing food we enjoyed. Since that first taste I have been dying to head back to try out the full experience and finalised menu! Luckily one rainy Cape Town weekday evening we got a booking and arrived looking like drowned rats. They graciously let us in and we were so glad – because we left considerably drier and beaming from ear to ear.
Before I rush into the review – Yes, this is the new Luke Dale-Roberts’ restaurant. And yes, he’s the fancy pants dude behind Test Kitchen and The Potluck Club. However, this is a story of four partners with Luke Dale-Roberts being one of them. Our other main players are Chef Wesley Randles, Manager Simon Widdison and Sandalene Dale-Roberts who is behind all the beautiful aspects of the restaurant.
As can be expected from a partnership of these four the food is fantastic and the service flawless. Our wine glasses were always topped up, the waiter didn’t rush us and was able to offer helpful recommendation. The floor manager was always close to hand to offer a wine recommendation or a dessert suggestion. The only odd thing – they wear lab coats… and I know it sounds like I am nitpicking.. but it is really odd. The labcoats stand in stark contrast to the sexy 50s vibe they have going. I am hoping they keep all their wonderful staff going forward but possibly look into an outfit change!
The starter menu is perfection and I truly struggled to narrow down my choice. Finally, after much fussing and consultation with the Shortmarket club team, I was able to make a choice. However, a table next to us had the right idea and actually ordered an assortment of starters. This is probably the best way to tackle the menu – order it all!
We went with the crispy octopus and the raw market fish. The crispy octopus is served with green mango atchar, sesame tamarind dressing and bonito flakes and is similar to a dish served at the launch event. The crispy octopus is tender and well paired with the spicy green mango atchar. I especially loved the addition of the bonito flakes to add a smoky fishy flavour. Don’t forget a generous squeeze of lemon to lighten up the dish!
The raw market fish is a sustainable local fish which is served ceviche style and is an understated gem. The fish arrived hidden away under beautiful juicy leaves of shaved persimmon. We don’t see persimmon on the menu often in Cape Town and I really enjoyed the pairing of sweet and juicy with the tender preserved fish.
I don’t normally talk about the wine we drink with dinner but this was a real winner. We enjoyed a bottle of Waterkloof Seriously Cool Cinsault at R250 a bottle. As it was a “school night” we dragged the bottle out across all three courses and not once did it stumble with a pairing. Cinsault is a beautiful light red which seems up to any challenge! I have made a mental note to add an extra bottle or six to my wine rack.
Mains were a really tough choice AGAIN! The menu is not very large but it still seems an impossible challenge to choose! I was really tempted by the vegetarian option of hot smoked aubergine and ash baked celeriac. A popular order around the restaurant was the chestnut and fynbos roasted petit poussin. This petit poussin would arrive at the table on a bed of chestnuts with smoke pouring out. This was then explained to the diner and taken away to be carved! I did wonder how they were going to pull off serving a whole chicken – having them carve it for you saves a whole load of hassle!
I finally decided on the Oak Valley Chalmar Fillet with bernaise sauce and a side serving of duck fat roasted potatoes.
~Here I must quickly apologise for the horrible photos with the one above being the worst of the lot. Shortmarket club has this gorgeous sexy 50s vibe – and unfortunately part of that vibe comes with mood light. However, mood lighting makes it a perfect date location and most couples around us were soaking it all in. I promise in between my angry photo taking I absolutely loved the vibe and felt like I was an extra on a 50s American gangster movie. ~
Now back to dinner! The fillet steak and bernaise sauce was a pairing I thoroughly enjoyed at the launch. I know it is a little predictable to order something I had already tried but I had such a craving for a terrific steak. Shortmarket certainly delivers a terrific steak – the only consideration is that it is exceptionally pricy. My fillet steak, sauce of bernaise or Café au Late and a side of my choice was R260. That is a lot of money – so whilst all our food was delicious and wonderful it is on the pricey side and cannot be a restaurant included in my regular visits. Special occasions and hot dates I can do – quick weekday dinners I’m breaking the bank.
The sweetheart was always going to go with a pork belly kind of dish and as such I was not surprised by his decision. He opted for the pea and porchetta. This was a stuffed porchetta with fresh peas, sugar snaps, pea and horseradish amasi, date and almond dressing. The porchetta was exceptional and the additional of the fresh peas, sugar snaps and pea shoots was pure brilliance.
He opted for the fennel fondant as a side. Now I have to tell you, we were confused. We both consider ourselves foodies and make an effort to try new and exciting things and learn about food. But we let ourselves down here. We thought we were getting a little baked fondant of fennel like a chocolate fondant… We were very wrong! What arrived was a sort of baked fennel bulb kind of thing. We quickly whipped out our phones and had a google! Fennel fondant is actually fennel bulbs cooked slowly in clarified butter so that they become golden-crisp on the outside and creamy inside. Thanks Shortmarket Club for teaching us something new!
Their menu has only four desserts, but they are so tempting – with the most popular order floating by being the chocolate souffle! I opted for the rhubarb mess due to my new obsession with rhubarb. Growing up my mom couldn’t get me to eat rhubarb for love or money – but now I am obsessed! The rhubarb mess came with a base of mascarpone crema catalan with rose and ginger meringue.
A Crema Catalan is a Spanish version of the French dessert, crème brulée. We are not going to start a war regarding whose is better – we just need to know that they are both delicious and the Shortmarket club makes an exceptionally good one. From a design point I loved the idea of setting the Crema Catalan off centre in the corner of the bowl and then almost hiding it away under all the other dessert elements. The meringue was incredibly light and thin and each mouthful of rhuburb, crunchy seeds and creamy smooth crema catalan worked perfectly.
We also tried the caramelised lemon tart with strawberry and amasi ice cream. The strawberry ice cream was rich and delicious almost like a solid scoop of the best strawberry milkshake. I had tried this dish before at the launch and was delighted to find the tart packing that brilliant lemony punch. This is a perfect dessert to finish off an indulgent dinner!
- Location: 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town
- Opening times: Monday – Saturday Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
- Contact details: 021 447 2874 – bookings are crucial
Note: We enjoyed our experience as guest of Shortmarket Club however all photographs and opinions are my own