Over the last few months there has been an explosion of new foodie spots in the Mother City. It has come to a point where I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, unsure how I’m actually going to eat my way through them all. I know, first world problems. I can, however, insist that you put this newbie forward for your next lunch break.
Chefs restaurant is situated at 81 St Johns Street in Cape Town, with Chef Jenny Ward running the kitchen. The entire space has been designed with an upmarket canteen feel, with an open plan kitchen taking up one half of the room, allowing diners on the other end to experience the hustle and bustle behind their dishes.
Chefs is the brainchild of Justin Letschert, the man behind skincare brand Bio-Oil. To help manifest the idea, he roped in his friend, Adam Whiteman, of The Power and The Glory and Hallelujah – both Cape Town foodie gems – as well as Chef Jenny Ward and MD Campbell Stevenson.
The restaurant is all about simplifying the dining experience while still treating customers to excellent quality. Each day you have a new choice of three dishes (browse these beforehand on their website to make the process even quicker). On arrival you can then tap your order into one of the screens at the counter, then take a seat and relax. There are no printed menus and no need to order through waiters.
Letschert wanted to bring top restaurant quality to the busy customer, and this is the result. “We went around in circles for some time trying to figure out how to merge the excellence of Chef-created food with speed and a non-fussy approach. Then Adam came up with the idea of the customised tray to move everything through the kitchen and on to the table. That was the Eureka moment!”
I think it’s a brilliant concept, especially for working folk who have short lunch breaks and need to get back to the office pronto to finish that deadline.
As for the food itself, you can expect great things. Chef Ward graduated Cum Laude from the Institute of Culinary Arts before working locally and abroad to gain experience. Needless to say she has a flair for flavour. Most of the magic happens in her wood fire oven, from the breads to the desserts, giving the dishes a unique depth and taste.
We attended the media launch this week and I loved the space as soon as I entered the light, bright, minimalist interior and large windows looking out onto the street. Chefs is all about getting people to connect with food by removing the barriers between the Chef and customer, serving super fresh, healthy, generous dishes that are stylishly presented.
I ordered a tuna carpaccio which was served with some prawns and a fresh Asian slaw on the side, packed with bright, zingy flavours. Everything was prepared to perfection, with loads of love and care in every little dish resting on the tray, right down to the home-made juice of the day – a light lemon and granadilla infused drink that was as beautiful as everything else I tasted.
To end things off we had some strawberry ice cream with vodka-infused strawberries and a meringue that had also been made in the wood-fired oven. Needless to say it ticked all the boxes, with silky ice cream, slightly tart fruit for a hit of acidity, and light, sweet meringue that had just a hint of smoke to it.
I am thoroughly excited about this new spot and will definitely head back there for another round.
The restaurant is open from 12pm – 4pm, Monday to Friday. At the moment they are still in the process of getting their liquor license but that should also be sorted out soon.
Head over here to check out their menu for the day.
By Liezel Malherbe