WHEN Ian Manley from Manley Communications drops you an email inviting you to lunch at Shortmarket Club, declining is not an option.
Since opening almost a year ago, Shortmarket Club has become one of THE places to eat in Cape Town, and who can resist a promise that it will be “the best lunch you have this week”?
The occasion was the launch of chef patron Wesley Randles’s new prix fixe lunch menu, which comprises three ever-changing courses for R280 per person, or R380 with a carafe of limited edition wines from “young guns” winemakers from the Swartland region.
“In all major European cities you’ll find prix fixe specials in the autumn and winter, because at lunchtime people are on the lookout for great food and great value,” says Simon Widdison, manager and co-owner. “This new menu ticks all the same boxes.”
Our menu was paired with the unfiltered wines from Jasper Wickens’s – assistant-winemaker at AA Badenhorst Family Wines – acclaimed Swerwer range; Shortmarket Club is one of the first restaurants to list his just-released Swerwer Red 2016, a blend of Grenache, Cinsaut and Tinta Barocca as well as his Swerwer White 2016, a Chenin Blanc. August features Ryan Mostert of Silvervis and Terracura Wines followed in September by Tremanye Smith of Blacksmith Wines.
The menu we sampled included a choice of two starters and two main courses, each of which call for either a red or white. Clever couples will try each of the dishes and share their carafes accordingly. We began with springbok carpaccio with celeriac goat labneh, za’tar spice, crushed olives and pistachio, tabouleh, and olive oil roasted bread with rosemary; and sumac-crusted tuna with preserved summer tomatoes, burnt babaganoush, and saffron XO.
Main course options were oxtail ragu with fennel three ways, burnt butter and parmesan; and local sustainable grilled fish with a slow roasted spiced carrot (which sounds so simple but the humble vegetable is elevated to new heights here), peanuts cooked in fresh betel and curry leaf, with a mild Cape Malay curry sauce, also poured at the table. Meals at Shortmarket Club are often served with a touch of theatre – refined, classy theatre.
For dessert, my friend and I ordered the same thing: For The Love Of Baked Cream is lavender and mozzarella creme brûlée smoked on oak. As Randles says, creme brûlée is the best dessert and who are we to argue? The other choice was persimmon and rhubarb wholewheat rusk and shortbread crumble, with brandy custard and tonka, with amasi ice cream.
“The prix fixe menu will revolve around dishes that are generous, hearty and wintry, but the focus will also be on food that works really well with wine,” says Randles.
The Shortmarket Club is located at 88 Shortmarket Street and is open for lunch and dinner daily (closed Sundays) and breakfast on Fridays and Saturdays. The prix fixe menu is available Mondays to Saturdays between 12.30pm and 2pm, until the end of September, 2017. Booking is essential: online at www.theshortmarketclub.co.za, or by calling
021 447 2874.
Images copyright Bianca Coleman