Three Wise Monkeys – Mine

The Poem

Up in the trees
they play and they swing.
Yet, gifts to a boy
in a crib they did bring.

The Restaurant

Three-Wise-Monkeys-Cover-Image.pngThree Wise Monkeys is a cool new ramen bar in trendy Sea Point. The menu is small with ramen, sushi and poke bowls on the list. The poke bowls were the real winner of the night. If you don’t know, Poke bowls are bowls of deconstructed sushi with beautiful tuna, salmon, avo and edamame – delicious!

three-wise-monkeys-600x450Three Wise Monkeys do not have a liquor license yet, so BYOB! The liquor license is in the pipeline though, so sundowners will soon be a thing!

The Verdict

Three Wise Monkeys is a cool ramen bar in vibey Sea Point with a small tasty menu and a fun atmosphere.

 

 

Lucky Bao – Hers

The Poem

Wood you like to go on a date?
Don’t bring a friend or we’ll fill the whole place.

He’s a master at ribs but you won’t find those here,
The foods of the people who love the New Year.

A brand new spot that’s just one month old,
No liquor licence but there’s a plan I’m told.

A four leaf clover or a horseshoe maybe,
We will pick you up at 6:30, baby!

The Secret

bao2Although we’ve had date night guests in the past, this week was a little different. Our two guests (K and C) also didn’t know where we were going and joined in the guessing game!

The first line jumped out at us immediately and sparked some furious tree based guessing! I thought it might refer to Woodstock, but no. I then tried to run through all the “forest” related suburbs in Cape Town, but for some reason we never thought of the obvious – Hout Bay!!

K and C quickly realised that it is a Chinese restaurant (a clue I would never have gotten!), but the “master of ribs” line was baffling us. For a brief moment, there was the fear that the restaurant would be vegetarian, but sanity prevailed and I knew She would never take me to such a terrible, terrible place.

The clover and horse shoe seemed pointed to something lucky and this sparked a whole host of guesses. (The Lucky Maple and The Wooden Rabbit’s Foot were my two favourites) In the end, a friend on social media guessed it right – Lucky Bao!

The Restaurant

Lucky Bao is a brand new spot in Hout Bay. It is the brain child of the owner of Cheney’s in Hout Bay and is situated right next door. The tiny little spot only seats eight (yes, you read that right!) and doesn’t take reservations, so first come first served!

Bao1The eight seats are arranged along a corner bar counter facing the little kitchen and they grey walls are decorated with bright graffiti art. Combined with the Edison bulbs hanging over the counter, this creates a feeling that you are eating in (very hip and cool) side alley.

The “Asian street food” cuisine fits in perfectly with the décor and the menu is fantastically simple. The two main items are Bao (Steamed Asian buns) and yakitori (Asian kebabs) with a couple of options for each. The also offer a gourmet hot dog and some sides. The menu is very reasonably priced, so we decided to give the entire menu a go! (Telling a waiter: “Can we have one of everything please” is marvellously satisfying)

The yakitori are five kebabs per serving and the bao, one. The Beef Yakitori was really good as were the Bird and Pork Bao. The Lucky Dog was my personal favourite and the coleslaw a surprise hit. (It has a really nice kick to it!) Even though we were really full after working through the entire menu some of us had a second go
at their favourites. (I’m looking at you K!)

The Verdict

Small and cool with a simple menu and great food – These four ingredients work really well at Lucky Bao. If you are in the Hout Bay area and feeling peckish, pop in for a bite – you will not regret it. As for me, I plan to come again with seven friends, have the whole place to ourselves and order the entire menu again…twice.

 

 

Hallelujah – Mine

The Poem

Now I’ve heard there is a secret place
First come, first served, so we’ll have to race.
But you don’t mind going early, do you?
The deal is this
The snacks are bliss
We’ll share a plate and we’ll share a kiss!
The name of the place is Trallalala

Trallalala
Trallalala

The Secret

hallelujah5I’m not going to lie – this poem took me an age to write. When I saw the name of the restaurant, I knew I wanted to use the Leonard Cohen song as my poem. (If you’ve never heard the song, click here and read the poem along with the music… pretty impressive right?)

I knew this was risky, because the last time I made a song into a poem, She had never even heard the song before! (For that disaster, click here)

Still, I was determined. In the end, She managed to (almost) guess fairly easily! She seemed a little baffled early on, but soon realised that the first line was from the song Hallelujah… Then she realised that the whole poem is! As she didn’t actually know the restaurant, the other clues (about sharing plates and arriving early) was sadly wasted on her.

The Restaurant

Hallelujah is a tiny place next to Power and Glory in Kloof Nek Road. I would strongly recommend a visit to their website as it really embodies the funky vibe of the restaurant. They only take reservations for groups of 4-6 (no more, no less!) and for the rest it’s first come first served (as my poem so eloquently stated…).

hallelujah1The restaurant signage is in bold neon pink fluorescent lights that reminds one of Grand Theft Auto Vice City (well, me at least). The walls echo this colour, decorated with a sea of flamingos. Plastic crustaceans adorning the walls finish off a kind of kitsch-to-be cool vibe. (The irony of this gorgeously garish spot right next to Cape Town Hipsterville was not lost on me)

The drinks menu has a really good selection of bubbles, so we started with a glass of Steenberg Brut and later ordered a Chardonnay from their small, but well selected wine list. (The focus here is more on cocktails and MCC than wine)

The food at Hallelujah is meant to share, so we did.   The waitress suggested 2-3 dishes per person, so we picked the mussels, beef, chicken wings and duck. We also very quickly ordered a side of the pickled vegetables as it looked great.

The food is amazing. The dishes are served as they are ready from the kitchen, which is great as the little table would not handle all 4 plates! The food is best described as Asian fusion (I think..?..) and is delicious.

It is hard to say what my favourite was as they were all fantastic. (If pressed, I would have to go with the duck, but they were all great. Four plates and a side turned out to be ample for two and we didn’t order dessert (although the pic on their website looks delicious).

The Verdict

hallelujah3Hallelujah is a fun spot with great food and the window seats are perfect for enjoying a cocktail on a balmy summer evening. Despite the place’s appearance, the food is not cheap, but it really is worth it.  Make sure to check out the seating times on their website and come early as this popular spot fills up fast!

Open Door – Hers

The Poem

A view tonight from the place I have chosen
This is what love is according to Frozen.

We’ve been there before, but not to this place
A stampede of horses has trampled the grapes!

The name is a joke ’bout Canadian homes,
Let’s see if you guess from this king of all poems.

The Secret

door5The poem She sent was so jam packed with clues that I didn’t know where to begin! I latched onto line 1 and 4 and tried to think of a restaurant with a view that also has horses in the name… This little red herring didn’t lead me astray for too long though.  I then thought – view, horses, we’ve been there before… Constantia Uitsig! (Uitsig is the Afrikaans word for view and the farm Constantia Uitsig was sold to someone who has cleared out a lot of the vines to keep horses.)

This left me with line 2 and 6. I made my life unnecessarily hard by misreading line 2. I initially read: “This is what I love according to Frozen” Hmm… What did She like about about Frozen? Olaf the snowman? The Swedish shop owner? Or maybe the name of the restaurant is: “Strong independent female protagonist” (What? It’s one of the things she likes about the movie!)

Luckily I realised my mistake before too long. But then I had to spend the next five minutes humming songs from Frozen to get to the right one. (Unlike people with children, I don’t know all the lyrics to every single song in the movie!) I did get there eventually – Love is an open dooooor!! That cued a whole bunch of door related guesses that I won’t bore you with.

The only clue I couldn’t get was the joke about Canadian homes. Apparently, Canada is so safe and crime free, people joke that everyone leaves their doors open… It doesn’t seem that funny to me, it sounds wonderful.  (Also impractical, it’ll let in the cold for sure…)

(As an aside, I am really happy with the current trend of the clues being slightly easier. The frustration when you cannot get anywhere with the clue is maddening!)

The Restaurant

door4Open Door has replaced the old River Café on the farm Constantia Uitsig.  The entrance is inviting and modern with bay windows and a large glass door (which was closed when we arrived, ironically enough)

Inside, the décor is stylish and minimal with a fantastic open plan kitchen and interesting wine display. Wood and cast iron tables give the place a nice clean, elegant feel.

The A la Carte menu was refreshingly simple with 5 choices each for starters, mains and dessert. They also have a food and wine pairing option that is quite affordable (as these things go).
The wine list is excellent (If a little on the pricey side) and we picked a bottle of J.H. Meyer Chardonnay. (If you like creamy, oaked Chardonnays, you have to try it.)

door1For our meals, I chose the beef tartar and beef flank while She went with two starters, the crayfish tail and gin cured tuna. The food was unbelievably interesting with surprising tastes and flavours.

My tartar was not the average beef, onion, caper and egg combo I expected. Served with kimchi and fried brussel sprouts, it was a totally different experience. (Good different!) The fennel sorbet that was served with the crayfish tail was also super interesting.

Just like the starters, the mains also found ways to surprise me. My plate was full of delicious savoury flavours that my minimal vocabulary (I’m second language!) won’t allow me to describe properly! The charred cabbage and porcini duxelle (Google it) stands out in my mind as especially delicious. Her tuna came with a avo puree

We shared a buttermilk mousse with lime parfait for dessert and enjoyed it with a glass of Noble Late Harvest. (Kudos to Open Door for having affordable dessert wine by the glass) The contrast in textures between the mousse, parfait and the bed of rye crumble was sublime and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Verdict

door2The food at Open Door was really good and the service was great. The chef puts an interesting spin on fine dining with unexpected tastes and flavours and the food is light and delicious.  The chef’s table right next to the open kitchen will be a fun night out for a group of friends that want something different from a fine dining experience.  I really want to go back on a nice sunny afternoon however; the outside seating and Sous Vide pork chop is calling my name!

The Dining Room – Mine

The Poem

The heart of a tree,
The butt of a gun.
Forty six years ago,
They had such fun!

The kitchen, the bathroom,
The bedroom and hall.
Which one is left out?
The best one of all!

The Secret

With a busy day at work, the poem only went out at noon and therefor didn’t give Her a lot of time for sleuthing… sorry.

dr2She focused on the first two lines and guessed “Oak Barrel”. Not bad… completely wrong end of the gun, but not bad… She started focusing too hard on the word “barrel”, so I quickly had to run Her through some simple rifle anatomy. Unfortunately, even when she figured out the butt was the “back part of the gun”, she couldn’t get to the synonym… I really should know my audience better.

She jumped to the second verse and tried that for a while. She came up with some great restaurant names. The Oak Room (I’m picturing a whiskey and cigar bar); The Attic (Eclectic loft with tapas); The Basement (Maybe a speakeasy style bistro?). Great names. All wrong though.

I prompted her on the 46 year clue. She did the math (1969) and started thinking out loud. (cute) She eventually came to: “What was that music festival called? W… W… W-something… WOODSTOCK! The restaurant’s in Woodstock! “ Yes. The heart of a tree is made of – wood. And the butt of a gun is called a – stock. Wood-stock. Woodstock.

With that it came time to leave for the restaurant, so she gladly traded guessing for waiting.

The Restaurant

dr3The Dining Room is a little hole-in-the-wall in Woodstock only 2,5 km from the city centre. It’s so innocuous in fact that I drove right past it the first time! When you enter however, the ambiance is so warm and inviting that you immediately feel right at home.

The décor looks exactly like your grandmother’s old dining room did. Back in the days before the open plan craze turned living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens into giant “entertainment areas” and when dining rooms were for special dinners and Sunday lunch. Dark wood tables and floors complement the pencil portraits and giant d’Hondecoeter fresco.

The Dining Room isn’t licensed, so we brought a delicious Maison Blanc de Noir along (Thanks Tim!). The waiter placed the bottle on ice and was on hand for a refill, on time, every time – good start.

dr1The three course set menu changes every day (well, Tuesdays and Thursdays – the only days they are open) and is mostly served “to share”, reinforcing the feeling that you are having a family dinner. The starters were fantastic and I especially enjoyed the oyster shooter.

The mains were a choice between a rib-eye roast, fried Kabeljou and a veggie option that I ignored and therefore cannot remember. I opted for the rib-eye (Gasp!! Shocker, I know…) and She opted for the fish. The mains were served with shared sides of green beans and salad.

The meal reminded me of a million roast dinners I have had before (roast beef, potatoes, beans, salad), but with a MASSIVE twist! The roast beef was rib-eye, with an amazing crème-fraîche stuffing; the fish was sesame infused and flash fried; the beans were done with roasted nuts and ginger; the salad was… well, I don’t know, just amazing (so I’m not a professional food critic, sue me). Every single bite was full of bold flavours and the sauces were especially tasty. In short, I was blown away.

There were also three options for desert. I went for lemon meringue pie and she opted for a very tasty Lemon-Tequila Sorbet. Both were good and I left curious about the Coffee flavoured mouse that we didn’t try!

The Verdict

dr4I loved it. The décor was interesting and the ambience lively. Exactly like a dining room would be during a large friendly family dinner. The food is the coup de grace and if every menu is as tasty as this, I want to go back next week!

We had a table for two, but I think The Dining Room will really come into its own when you have a big group of friends, passing the serving bowls around, sipping wine and chatting up a storm. So, gather up some friends and book a table – I guarantee you will not regret it!

Borage Bistro – Hers

The Poem

Within the Cape’s highest unnatural peak,
A new restaurant awaits.
You can bank on it being the best of the week,
To a flower its name equates.

Remind me to bring my paper slip,
Lest we not be able to pay.
I know we have had a bit of a dip,
But date night is back – hurray!

The Secret

This year has been crazy busy for both of us and date night has slipped off the radar a bit. Luckily, it was back and I had a new opportunity to show the world what a terrible gumshoe I would have made!

After the first read of the poem, my mind immediately jumped to Table Mountain. “Highest natural peak” cannot be anything else, right? But I would have heard about a new restaurant up there! And a trip up the cable car seems a tad elaborate for a Tuesday… Hmm. Then I read the poem again. Idiot! “…highest UNnatural peak”.  Now that made more sense!

borage1The tallest building in Cape Town? It could only be the new glass FNB building. I ventured a guess and… correct! Guessed it without even spotting the “you can bank on it” clue!

Now for the name. A restaurant named for a flower? Rose? Protea? I ventured a couple of other guesses too – all wrong.

Then she let slipped that she had to google the name to find out that it was a flower! Hmm, an obscure flower then? Bougainvillea?  Chrysanthemum? I spent the entire hour in the gym trying to think of names of obscure flowers! Which, let me tell you, is not very motivational when you are trying to move heavy things, short distances!

The paper slip also had me a little baffled. Was it a voucher of some kind? Maybe tickets to a dinner or show? The fact that the obvious answer didn’t occur to me instantly is a little embarrassing. It wouldn’t have gotten me the name, but I would have felt better about myself!

In the end, realising that I didn’t know the restaurant and sick of trying to name every flower in the floral kingdom, I gave up!

The Restaurant

Borage Bistro is on the ground floor of the new FNB skyscraper and is mainly a lunch spot that has now opened for dinner during the summer. Borage (known as starflower) is also an borage2annual herb native to the Mediterranean region and definitely not one I would have guessed in a million years!

The Bistro is inviting, with modern décor and a triple volume ceiling with stylish industrial pyping showing. The open plan kitchen and lounge jazz playing in the background, gives a nice modern feel to the place. The “paper slip” of the poem turned out to be a Groupon (duh…) for a three course meal. We could choose any starter, main and desert from the menu – fantastic!

The menu at Borage Bistro is beautifully simple. The wine list has about three choices per cultivar- one entry level, mid-range and expensive wine. We chose a DMZ Chenin that we both enjoy. The food menu is just as simple – four starters, six mains and six deserts. Even with such a small selection, the choices were hard!

borage3I opted for the Pot a Feu, the Sirloin and the Chocolate Fondant. She picked the Gravlax, Duck and chees plate. My starter was so tasty that I was tempted to drink the jus like a soup! (I did take a couple of sips, I confess) Our mains were both good with the vegetables being exceptionally delicious. The sirloin was good without blowing me away, but she was extremely impressed with her duck.

My chocolate fondant was rich and delicious, but she won with an amazing cheese plate. The waiter warned us that they charge slightly extra for the cheese plate (when picked with the Groupon), but it was totally worth it. Five delicious cheeses and some really good preserves (she couldn’t stop talking about the strawberry compote) and with our wine done, we opted for some Port with our desert.

The Verdict

Borage Bistro is a cute little place that I think will do well over the summer. I can see their elegantly simple menu appealing to the lunch crowd. If you can still get the Groupon, I would definitely recommend it as it saves you about 50% and some really good food. If you work in the city and have a free lunch hour on a sunny day, head over and try one of their salads or sandwiches (with a sneaky glass of lunchtime wine), you won’t regret it.