As we know, Cape Town loves a hyped up restaurant. The most anticipated restaurant to open this year, surprised us all when it announced that it would be serving from morning to night. Breakfasts were going to be a big feature of The Shortmarket Club, and this was confirmed with the pop-up breakfast teasers at Naturalis earlier this year.
Visiting one day after their official opening, on a seriously cold Cape Town morning, it was apparent that breakfasts at SMC are not some sort of add-on but rather a defining feature of the restaurant that I’m sure will be pulling us to there to dine.
The décor suits both day and night, especially with the skylights that give life to the space that would otherwise be dark. The white table clothes, soft dusty grey leather booths and beveled glass booth dividers really make you feel like you’re somewhere special. I felt like I was transported back to the late 30s, just before World War 2 when those upper echelon were still enjoying the finer things in life and in copious amounts.
The breakfast menu is a good size of 6 items, making it not too impossible to choose. It was a toss-up between the asparagus and poached egg or the Scotch egg, something I never see on a local menu. That made my choice, and my breakfast date chose the asparagus so it was a win-win.
We ordered (Origin) coffees and then we received a surprise porridge of mealie pap. My fellow diner was in his porridge element. It took him right back to his childhood. I’ve personally never liked porridge much but I must say this was the best one I’ve ever tasted. Perhaps it will be a permanent fixture because it’s certainly deserving.
The tray arrived in all its glory. The waiters serve off large wooden trays, mimicking a silver service that we associated with that old classic style of dining. Little touches like these, and the commitment to a particular style, make SMC really stand out. The idea isn’t new, but they’ve taken it and made it their own, and there’s an undeniable character to the whole environment that gives the restaurant its originality.
The food was marginally short of perfect only due to the poached egg being slightly more soft than medium. Other than that the flavours were superb. The creamy porcini puree paired so well with the tangy Hollandaise and crispy wafer of Parmesan. My Scotch egg was absolute heaven, and a well portioned size, causing me to uncharacteristically avoid the extra table toast. The egg inside was cooked about medium so the yolk was slightly gooey, and this with the stuffing-like coating and crispy exterior all on top of creamy wild mushrooms, made it one of the best breakfasts in town. It was a Scotch egg like no other, and that’s the key with SMC, everything has been given a unique Wesley Randles’ touch.
The restaurant is not Test Kitchen nor is it Pot Luck, even though I think many of us expected to be shown a different version on a theme. Although there might be familiar nuances in terms of flavour and execution, SMC, in its entirety is a new exciting food experience. Wesley has successfully proven his ability to define a new style of dining, by giving classic methods and food a Randles revamp. The breakfast offering is certainly one we didn’t have in Cape Town until now to to put it simply, its pure class.
*Dining expenses were paid for in full by Food24
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- Ceili McGeever