NOT having been in Long Street since I don’t know when, I suddenly found myself there twice last week: once for lunch and then back for dinner. That’s me – all or nothing.
Divine Lady D and I took our early evening meal at Sentir Tapas & Spirit Space, which opened above the micro bakery Loaves On Long in November last year. It’s housed in one of the oldest buildings in the street, and you reach it by walking through the flour-dusted bakery and climbing a lovely old steep and narrow wooden staircase, its risers worn smooth by decades of use.
The space on the first floor leads out onto a small balcony strung with lights, which was the perfect place to perch in the balmy twilight. To clarify the name and in case you were concerned, “spirit” refers to the kind you drink rather than any possible hauntings. To this end, there is a cocktail menu offering delights such as The Queens Bubbly (MCC, strawberry and tequila infused liqueur, maraschino cherry and a “dash of sass”) and a Tall Ginger made with rum, ginger beer, lime juice and dehydrated lemon. Gin, vodka, rum, tequila, whisky and brandy are stocked at the bar, and the wine list is divided into light and dark (white and red) with a small but decent selection bracketing the Boschendal “starry” option.
The tapas-style menu is similarly divided, but into flavours – salty, spicy, bitter, sour, sweet, and umami. Don’t be too complacent about this though; lemongrass sago, and an eclair with lemon curd, meringue, and chocolate find their place under the “sour” heading, while a steamed bao with blue cheese, walnut and dried fig with sweet soy sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds is under “sweet”.
Word from the kitchen was that chef and co-owner Ciska Rossouw wanted to send out her selection for us, but we preferred to make our own choices. From “salty” I ordered beef tartare, delicately chopped and topped with a teeny tiny quail egg yolk in its speckled half-shell and crispy rice noodles, while Lady D began with prawn crystal rolls with cucumber, carrot and peppers, served with aioli and a spicy dressing.
So far, so delicious. On to our next course, and it was “umami” mushroom-dusted pork terrine with pistachio nuts, garlic purée and charred baby onions for me. There was also crispy kale on top of it, but I picked it off and won’t hold it agains Ciska in any way. Nothing personal. The Lady’s choice was quite possibly the winning dish of the night – nasturtium risotto generously crowned with Serrano ham and 12-month matured cheddar.
To conclude, Ciska insisted on a dessert, serving us her dark chocolate pot de crème with goji and cocoa nib crumble, coffee granita and burnt white chocolate mousse. It’s not on the current permanent menu but it sure should be…that mousse, oh my…just a bowl of that on its own and I’d be happy. Fat, but happy.
“Sentir – which means ‘to sense, to feel, taste and smell’ – captures the multi-sensorial experience we want for our guests,” says owner, dreamer and creator Rickma Coxon. “It’s an expression of all the things I love and want to share – contemporary food, international fusion, wine and design. Each item on the menu, each piece of furniture was carefully considered – reflecting our stories, our travels and heritage.”
Sentir is open Wednesdays to Saturdays – the bar from 4pm, the kitchen serves its full tapas menu from 6pm, and limited small plates and high tea are available from 2pm till 4pm.