Enjoy informal plates of good food, excellent wine and a welcoming atmosphere at two new Cape Town hot spots
Openwine and The Mess are just some of the latest, and coolest, spots to hit Cape Town. Here’s what you can expect.
An afternoon at Openwine is like visiting foodie friends with a well-stocked cellar. The small “enoteca” on Wale Street is the dream of Marta Gobbi and Raphael Paterniti. They have created the South African equivalent of the traditional Italian wine shop, where you can taste before you buy a bottle, or pop in for a glass of wine and a plate of food. The couple meet all the winemakers and taste each wine that they stock, so you get the story of each wine as you chat with them.
Browse the library of over 200 wines (all available by the bottle or glass) or choose from their “drinkable blackboard” recommendations. The menu features four dishes, each paired with an interesting wine. Tasting my way through all four was an excellent introduction to some new South African wines, and they paired well with simple, delicious Italian dishes such as seafood ravioli, heart-warming polpette with polenta and arancini stuffed with spinach. Each week there’s a new menu to keep you coming back for more taste adventures. You can also order just one dish or a really good salami and cheese board to accompany a glass of wine.
The Mess in De Waterkant is another new eatery that’s perfect for informal evening meals with friends, or relaxed cocktails in the open courtyard on sultry summer evenings. Restaurateur Carlene de Gouveia was inspired by her travels around the world to present the best of all the cuisines she’d tasted, so the short menu takes you on a journey of flavours. “It’s not fusion,” says consultant chef Luke Wonnacott, who brought Carlene’s culinary vision to life, “each dish has its own identity; Spanish is Spanish and so on.”
The vibe is relaxed and communal with sharing plates from mezze with flatbreads, to beef tataki, tuna ceviche, pork belly tacos – each beautifully prepared and full of flavour. There are hearty main dishes of confit pork belly with smoked apple and braised red cabbage, Angus ribeye steaks and sticky pork loin ribs for those who’ve had enough of sharing. The decadent chocolate lava cake with a fresh lime ice cream is a rousing finale to a convivial evening.
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Words: Kit Heathcock Images: Supplied