It was one of those spectacular Saturdays in Cape Town when Liezel and I made our way to Salsify. This fine dining establishment recently took over The Roundhouse, the historic building nestled at the base of Kloof Nek drive, with a dazzling view of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles peeking through the windows. This joint venture between The Test Kitchen’s Luke Dale Roberts and his former head chef, Ryan Cole, has created quite the buzz since they opened in 2018 and recently they earned themselves top honours, scoring the 8th place in the Eat Out Awards Top 10.
The waiter leads us through The Roundhouse front door, and it’s like we’ve stepped into a fantasy world. We walk through the circular heart of the room lined with tall, worn mirrors, past fantastical murals, statues and paintings, and low, plush velvet chairs that all create a slight Alice in Wonderland feel. And suddenly you’re in the outer circle where the glassware sparkles on pristine white table cloths and the cooling ocean breeze floats in through the large open windows.
There are two options when it comes to the lunch menu, a four course or a seven course set menu. On the seven course menu you can also choose to have one of two wine parings: The Boutique option offers you a selection of rare finds from smaller or lesser known farms in South Africa, or the slightly pricier Gems paring serves you really unique wines, often old vintages or small batch releases.
If you are able, I would recommend going for the full experience, with The Gems pairing. This wine selection is truly exceptional, with options you’ll likely never have the chance to taste again. A 2008 Saider Terras Sauvignon Blanc from Bloemendal was one of the stars of the meal, pairing exquisitely with our first course of Heirloom Tomatoes. I can wax lyrical about each wine we tasted, all wonderfully strange, enticing and a perfect accompaniment to the dishes we were served. Chef Ryan’s food is delicate, delicious and absolutely worth the trip and the expense, but the sommelier took the menu to a new level.
The food does deserve its own shower of praise, however. Chef Cole heroes his ingredients with the perfect medley of flavours, each presented with delicate and precise plating. It’s both simple and complex, and absolutely beautiful. One of the most memorable was the first course of Heirloom Tomatoes, where this humble, everyday ingredient found a moment of glory. But his Grilled Crayfish stole the show, displaying bold curry flavours while still showcasing the delicate flavours of the seafood.
I’d easily rate Salsify as one of our top fine dining establishments right now. Besides the high standard of the food and wine, the space is comfortable and sophisticated, and the waiters are meticulous. You’ll leave much lighter in the pocket, but fuller in heart and stomach.