The name of this restaurant in Hout Bay gives nothing away. It turns out the name comes from the owner and head chef - Cheyne , a super cool South African dude who lived in South Korea for a few years.
Cheyne’s serves Asian tapas, that they refer to as “Pacific Rim Cuisine”, which is cooking that combines Pacific Island foods, Asian cooking techniques, local freshness, and a host of other cultural and culinary influences. Basically, expect the unexpected!
The menu is divided into four sections: Sea, Land, Earth and Happy Endings (I am not sure how these categories would be classified into a psychometric test) but I think it’s cool to see a menu not with the usual “starters” “main” “dessert”.
Sea equals seafood-inspired plates, land the meat-inspired dishes; earth are the vegetarian options and well, happy-endings are quite obvious.
I know tapas are the “in” thing, but I must be honest, I am not a fan of this style of cuisine, at least South African tapas experiences I have had. I find the portions small and over-priced, and I often leave the restaurant feeling quite hungry. And I am pleased to write that Cheyne's was one of the most pleasant tapas experiences I have ever had.
READ: Why SA tapas bars need to drastically up their game
Each dish really is a taste-explosion in your mouth, and the portions are really generations, so you don’t mind sharing the deliciousness. We were a table of four, so we really indulged…but these were some of our favourites:
Chilli salt squid, lime pepper, miso aioli
Firecracker crayfish, beetroot kimchi, yakaniku dipping
Soft-shell crab asain greens black vinegar sesame
5 Spice pressed pork belly, fuji apple and sesame jam, corn and cumin puree, crackling
Baby back ribs, sticky mandarin caramel, crispy shallots
Char su lamb cutlets, star anise ginger caramel, corn coriander fritters
Deep fried potato and coconut dumplings, tom yum lemongrass cream, toasted peanuts
Fuji apple and mango slaw, minted coriander, green chilli caramel, crushed nuts
Double thick peanut shake, miso butterscotch, choc soil, crushed nuts
White chocolate and toasted sesame semi freddo, toasted coconut flakes and Summer berry coulis
We ate there when the restaurant was packed, so although the waiters were super friendly, the service did slip up in instances (we had to remind the waiter to bring the bottle of wine we ordered).
The restaurant feels like you are in a house packed with tables, so it’s intimate and cosy, with a relaxed atmosphere. Décor is quite bland compared to the food, but there is a great buzz, you can see that people are there for the food. The wine list is extensive and original, so no need to bring your own wine.
I will definitely go back, especially as there is currently a Winter special on: 4 dishes for R200 (excellent value for money).