If you're reading this blog then let's face it you're pretty cool. I know I consider myself to be unbelievably cool. So by enlarge you and I (being cool) would hang out with cool people and visit cool restaurants. Well...here's an experiment. Take 10 of your cool friends and ask them on a gorgeous Saturday in Cape Town where they'd like to go for lunch. I guarantee none of them will say Chelsea Village, near Wynberg. And I just can't understand why...
Chelsea is full of beautiful buildings, most of which have retained their original facades. Besides awesome little cottages that are now peoples' homes, loads of them have been turned into decor shops. The streets are full of people walking around browsing and the Maynardville Park is packed with dogs and families having a picnic. The whole vibe is very European and extremely cool. There are a few coffee shops and one or two restaurants. Last weekend I visited one of them and was pleasantly surprised.
Dutch is a breath of fresh air not only for this area but for Cape Town generally. Paying homage to his country of birth, the owner, Stephan, has splashed bright orange touches onto charcoal walls. The setup is small and shares an entrance with a florist. There is a beautiful little courtyard and an open-plan kitchen that shows off friendly and well-trained staff, every single one of which wore a smile with enthusiasm when I visited. The menu itself was described by Stephan as "casual, relaxed cafe food that we would serve in Europe." (True, but it also has one or two Asian-inspired dishes like fried rice with chicken satay, peanut sauce and prawn crackers.) The rest of the menu was the definition of simplicity and featured things like a chilled sweetcorn and basil soup, spaghetti with chilli, parsely, garlic and parmesan and salmon trout fishcakes. What was more interesting though were the Dutch dishes, none of which I had even heard of never mind eaten before. I asked Stephan for some advice and ended up ordering beef kroketten which was served on rye(R55). It was sort of like a beef tartar that had been rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. The clash of textures was unreal and the flavours were intense. Normally I steer waaaaaaaaaay clear of deep-fried food but there was no sign of grease at all in the dish and it was surprisingly light. The Queen had the spaghetti mentioned above(R65) and it too was full of flavour - a great example of the fact that it is the QUALITY of ingredients in a dish that is important, not the amount!
The winelist was small but featured a few of the smaller farms which I always enjoy. The presence of Jack Black Beer is also testament to the fact that Dutch enjoys truly artisanal fare.
For a good change-up Dutch is well worth a visit. A few years back it was in De Waterkant and developed a big following. I never got a chance to visit but I will definitely be returning to his new Chelsea venue.
Give them a call on (021) 797-5838.