Review: Lunch at 162 Cape Kitchen & Cafe restaurant at The Hilton Hotel in Cape Town

How much do we love writing hideously un-snappy titles for SEO reasons?

This weekend I was invited to dine at 126 Cape Kitchen at The Hilton Hotel in town. While the décor is incredibly chic and the food is attractively presented, it’s fine dining without the fuss. Local handcrafted crockery gives everything a ‘homey feel’ (but most certainly that of your most stylish aunt, not Tannie Yolanda’s tuis kombuis) and the dishes, many of which are South African staples, have a Cape Malay and Asian influence.

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Mooi, ne?

..

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My poor friend Nandi was an Instagram husband extraordinaire, holding that blerrie curtain back every time I wanted to snap a photo. Girl earned her meal.

To start, we ordered a Norwegian salmon poke bowl (R150) and crispy brie salad (R105). Of the two we most enjoyed the latter. It’s hard to go wrong with a deep fried brie wedge. This was served on a bed of marinated mushrooms and roasted red peppers, rocket, mange tout, pickled red onion and cranberry vinaigrette.

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Yes, please!

Mains-wise, Nandi chose the Signature Fillet (R250) and it was a big hit. Two hundred grams of pure delish covered in blue cheese, mussel and leek ragout with a side of cranberry jus. Better yet, it came with a potato brulee (to me it tasted like a very creamy oven-baked potato au gratin – a winner) and buttered baby veg. She declared the mussels ‘perfection’ and liked that, despite the fact that she’d ordered her steak ‘medium to a little bit well’ (she hates blood!) it was still miraculously tender. (I used to date a ‘medium to well’ meat person, so I know that getting this exactly right is no mean feat.)

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Two thumbs up for this boy.

As for me, I’ve been on a steak spree of late so I opted for the braised lamb shank (R265). It was a lot more fatty than I expected but I guess that’s luck of the draw. You’re ordering up a piece of animal, not buying a Kit Kat. Also, the meat that existed was fabulously succulent. I would’ve liked a saltier gravy though, but this was an easy fix as I could just nick Nandi’s. (Girl was too far gone in creamy mussel rapture to notice.) Also, it’s worth noting that the mash and veggies usually play a supporting role in a dish like this but I thought the super silky mash (made with lots of cream, not milk) was especially good and the carrots had a lovely buttery taste.

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Their crockery’s gorgeous, right?

To finish up, we decided to take our dessert and coffee by the pool so that’s where we enjoyed the Trio of Cape Classics – a malva pudding, peppermint tart, milk tart and a selection of ice creams (R105). The malva was a bit dry and needed custard and the ice cream was a no show, but both tarts went down a treat. I like caramelicious peppermint desserts and despise milk tart while Nandi dislikes anything too sweet an thinks milk tart is The Best Dessert On Earth (?!) so we were the ideal pair to share. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the hotel’s coffee is supplied by Truth (they have their own dedicated Truth coffee counter in the lobby just before you enter the 126 Cape Kitchen restaurant area) so you really are getting a cup of the good stuff.

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For the record, these aren’t shot glasses, they’re large cups.

Things to know:

The waiters are lovely and the service is great, but very leisurely (we arrived at 12 and left just after 3) so visit on a day when you can take it slow and relax.

Currently, 126 Cape Kitchen is running a great-sounding curry buffet every Thursday. It starts at 6:30pm and you’ll get to stuff yourself with an array of North Indian curries for just R215 a head. When you consider that you’d pay more for a single lamb rogan josh at Bukhara (God, when last did you go there?!) this is an awesome deal.

Speaking of deals, the restaurant has created two special buffet menus for both Christmas (R450 pp) and New Year’s Eve (R585 pp) and you can check them out if you click on the links.

As I mentioned before, 126 Cape Kitchen is fully halaal, so they don’t serve alcohol, but the hotel’s other restaurant, Signal Hill Bar, Lounge and Terrace, is where you’ll find the booze. Word on the street is that they do a great whiskey sours.

Love, love

Leigh 

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Editor of South African beauty blog Lipgloss is my Life.

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