Move over Japan; there’s a new big hitter on the global food scene. Although largely overlooked by the Michelin guide until recent years, South Africa’s food scene is worth crossing the world for, with the Western Cape and its excellent restaurants increasingly stepping into the spotlight.
Cape Town possesses one of the most exciting and diverse capitals globally at the province’s heart. From its classic restaurants to the latest disruptors, the city’s excellent eateries are a great reason to head to the continent’s southernmost tip. Step away from the buzzing cosmopolitan streets below Table Mountain, and the innovation continues with a farm-to-fork ethos shining through, mixed in with regional heritage and homegrown indigenous ingredients.
Guests can travel with Abercrombie & Kent to sample all that the Western Cape is serving up, with a side order of South African cultural delights. The journey begins with a stay at The Silo. Set atop the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in a former grain silo, The Silo is the destination hotel in Cape Town. By far the tallest building on the waterfront, one of the hotel’s biggest lures is its rooftop bar and pool – the best in the city.
During your time in Cape Town, foodies will enjoy some authentic South African hospitality on an organic culinary journey at chef-to-the-stars Nicky Gibbs’ Noordhoek home; and an immersive food tour of the Woodstock area. A former working-class neighbourhood transformed into Cape Town’s answer to Shoreditch, Woodstock is home to cutting-edge galleries, creative agencies, a bustling food market, and hip restaurants, including one of the world’s best 50, The Test Kitchen.
Chef Luke Dale-Roberts does some of the best food in South Africa, and at The Test Kitchen, diners can expect heady and creative tasting menus. Waiting lists usually stymy visiting travellers, but A&K’s private client managers can work wonders.
You could also travel by helicopter to Paternoster to visit the winner of the Restaurant of the Year at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in 2019, Wolfgut. This fine-dining restaurant by chef-patron Kobus can der Merwe is located in a 130-year-old, white-washed cottage by the ocean that seats 20 diners at one time and offers a predominantly seafood and foraged-greens menu based on van der Merwe’s philosophy to ‘interfere as little as possible with the products, and to keep them pure, raw and untreated’.
Then it’s off to slightly further afield to the pretty village of Franschhoek to stay at the bar-raising Leeu Estates on the slopes of the Dassenberg. Expect rural tranquillity and excellent wines from the surrounding vineyards. Enjoy a private tasting in the boutique Wine Studio with the Leeu Estate’s passionate owners. Made by Chris and Andrea Mullineux, the award-winning wine collection has received 31 five-star ratings from Platter’s South African Wine Guide.
Whilst staying at Leeu, guests will sample Michelin three-star-trained John Norris Rogers’ seven-course ‘Gourmand’ menu at Le Petite Colombe, the little sister to the acclaimed Le Colombe. A&K holidays nourish your soul as well as your belly: Everard Read is South Africa’s oldest and largest group of galleries, and its gallery and sculpture park at Leeu Estates is its latest offering. Monumental sculptures by the likes of Blessing Ngobeni, Nelson Makamo and Nandipha Mntambo abound amongst the fynbos and vineyards.
Another must-visit spot in Franschhoek, Babylonstoren, is one of the most stylish hotels in the Winelands. The three-hectare kitchen garden and its restaurant are destinations in their own right. On many a ‘where to eat right now’ list and housed in the old cowshed, the restaurant’s farm-to-form philosophy means food is seasonal and reflects Babel’s ‘pick, clean and service’ ethos.
Lastly, we’ll take you to Tswalu Kalahari, a privately-owned game reserve in the Northern Cape/Kalahari. Working in association with Michelin-starred South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, the chefs at Tswalu serve the finest dining with a side of the most exciting wildlife spotting. Twice the size of Norfolk, Tswalu offers the real luxury of exploring Africa’s last really wild space in peace. Every meal at the reserve reflects the culinary heritage of South Africa and places sustainability at the heart of the plate. Foraged Kalahari ingredients and reinterpreted local flavours are inspired by a sense of place.
Full heart, happy belly, sated mind: all the ingredients of an A&K epicurean adventure.