Restaurant ëlgr breathes new life into Cape Town’s Kloof Street

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IT’S been one heck of a corona coaster for chef Jesper Nilsson and his team at ëlgr. The restaurant opened in December and was promptly cut down at the knees by the early curfew and liquor ban. We visited just days before these were lifted and if you don’t want to read further let me just say: go eat there.

ëlgr is where Janse & Co used to be, and years ago, Ocean Basket. Oh if those walls could talk. It’s obviously a lot more sophisticated and elegant now, and I’m glad to have grown up sufficiently to appreciate this. Nilsson is Swedish and you should ask him how to pronounce the name of his restaurant. It’s okay if you say it phonetically but it sounds so much better in the Nordic language.

Jesper Nilsson

The sleek interior leads to a courtyard under dappled shade by day, and starlight by night (if you weren’t in the City Bowl but you get the idea). It’s sheltered and perfect for the balmy evenings we have ahead of us for the next two or three months.

The dining concept is small plates to share (or keep to yourself, I always say) but they’re not really that small at all: bigger than a starter, less than a main, somewhere in between. Since we couldn’t have wine that night, we had Level Three Bellini mocktails, with Norah’s Valley sparkling wine (see more about that here) with thyme syrup and garnished with strawberries. I could tell you more about the non-alcoholic beverages but I’m fairly confident you’ll be getting stuck into the wine list now that you can. Perfectly understandable; I’m definitely keen to go back for the pairing experience.

The first round of dishes to be served included sourdough bread (made on the premises) for me, and an unexpected treat of pork crackling for my gluten-intolerant friend. How sweet is that? Watermelon with lime and chilli was delightfully refreshing, and I loved loved loved the raw beef with lots of aioli, rocket and blue cheese. It’s not carpaccio, and not as finely chopped as tartare, and utterly delicious.

After this we had baby gem, plum and walnut salad almost completely hidden beneath Parmesan shavings; and two warm dishes: delicate and perfect hake in a butter sauce with dill, cucumber and courgette; and tender, succulent pork fillet with spinach, potatoes, kale and beurre noisette.

My friend kept insisting she wouldn’t have dessert but I told her she had to take one for the team so she relented (caved under pressure more like it) and ordered the chocolate sorbet made with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. She had no regrets, not a single one. Neither did I, with my Paris-Brest with light-as-air choux, vanilla cream and strawberries – a different take on the classic but oh so wonderful.

What an absolutely brilliant and outstanding meal. Everyone take a deep bow as I applaud you. I cannot wait to find a chance to come back. I suspect the menu is fluid, but if you’re a meat-eater, look out for the in-house cured charcuterie platter…

ëlgr 75 Kloof Street, Cape Town, call 021 422 0384, email for bookings reservations@elgr.co.za or Dineplan. For more information, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©

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