LIAM TOMLIN’S legendary and OG Chefs Warehouse is back in Bree Street, occupying the ground level at The Bailey and it is oh so good. We would expect nothing less.
A group of us had lunch there last week, and this is my report. The menu is divided into seafood, vegetables, meat, sides and desserts, plus a bread course, caviar and oysters. Each dish is priced individually so you can have as much or as little as you want without being tied to a multi-course set menu. I like this, a lot. Prices are not too terrifying either (unless you’re having caviar obviously).
We began with the bread course, my everlasting weakness at Chefs Warehouses. The soft warm loaf comes with cultured butter, thyme, olives, confit garlic, and Jamon jam. If this was a set menu it would be advisable to pace yourself but since it’s not, you can get right in there and scoff the lot. The others at the table without allergies had oysters while I watched.
From the vegetarian selection we had Vietnamese rice paper rolls, mushroom risotto, tandoori cauliflower, coconut and cashew salad, and ratatouille tart with mozzarella and aged balsamic. Loved the rolls, and the mushroom risotto (unfortunately never a great dish to photograph no matter how delicious) was divine and exotic.
Having followed a low carb lifestyle for a while, I am inclined to never eat cauliflower again in my life and this dish won’t change my mind (nobody’s fault but the poor cauli itself) although the salad part was excellent, and I dipped back into that. The ratatouille tart was a pleasant surprise. Looking at it on paper it is something I would only be slightly less likely to order than cauliflower. However, it was utterly fabulous – light and fresh in a light, crispy pastry shell and dressed subtly with that aged balsamic which masquerades as a reduction but it’s not.
The two fish dishes we had were my favourites: Tuna tartar, spring onion and ginger dressing, crispy fish skin; and line fish carpaccio with ponzu dressing. I was selfishly glad there was a member of the party who couldn’t have any fish so there was more for me. The fresh flavours and textures were exceptional, while tip toeing the line of delicate refinement.
Could we manage more, our waiter John wondered? Turns out we could – sticky pork belly with kimchi, garlic, chilli, and spring onion. I’m not a fan of the burny stuff so why I even put the kimchi in my mouth I cannot say. The belly itself was soft and rich and sticky as promised.
For dessert we were served lemon posset with tequila and pineapple, which was made me scrunch up my face the same way a tequila shot would so that was fun. The fresh carrot madeleines though…again, looking at that on the menu, I would probably have given it a hard pass. Why? There is no logic in saying because of the carrots. We have them in cake all the time. But in a madeleine?
Turns out, they are marvellous. Madeleines go in the oven for only seven minutes so they are served fresh and warm, and with a cunning cream cheese filling, and carrot sherbet on the side. I stuffed as many as possible in my mouth and grabbed one more on the way out.
Bottom line, everything was good and that is not a surprise, but an affirmation that Liam and executive chef of The Bailey, Asher Abramowitz, are forces to be reckoned with.
- Where: The Bailey, 91 Bree Street, Cape Town
- When: Mondays to Saturdays – Chefs Warehouse at The Bailey lunch and dinner 12pm-9pm; Brasserie Bailey dinner 6pm-9.30pm; The Old Bailey Lounge Bar 3pm-late
- Bookings: Dineplan
- Call: 021 773 0440
- Email: [email protected]
- Facebook: thebaileyonbree
- IG: chefswarehouseatthebailey