There’s a new restaurant that’s taken over the old Café Dijon space in Green Point. The Mess, founded by first-time restaurateur, Carlene de Gouviea, focuses on European and Middle Eastern flavours and food culture. The sharing-style menu takes inspiration from a variety of cuisines from Spain to Turkey to France, creating a rather special and unique menu that sets itself apart from other restaurants in the area. Food24 visited for dinner last week before The Mess officially opened on the first day of Spring.
Carlene has revived the space, once a French bistro, by removing the booths that ran through the centre of the restaurant. By doing this she has made the space feel a lot more open and given more options for seating arrangements. There are some lovely round booths for intimate group dinners, as well as tables with benches and the opportunity to have bigger parties or venue hire. Overall the restaurant has a sleek, stylish yet relaxed feel to it, perfect for a dinner any day of the week. Outside diners can enjoy the romantic, fairy-lit alleyway running along The Rockwell.
The name, The Mess, refers to the term used for a group of diners in the 16th century. It reiterates the foundation of the restaurant concept of sharing and enjoying food together, along with the menu made-up mostly of small plates to share.
After studying food technology, Carlene, worked with her husband in the wine industry for many years which enabled her to do much traveling to Europe. Over a decade, trips filled with exceptional food and wine, enlightened Carlene and encouraged her to pursue her passion which now sits in the form of The Mess. This is why you will see a very eclectic menu, created by consultant Chef Luke Wonnacott and inspired by all the food Carlene loves.
We had a hard time ordering as everything is enticing. In the end we narrowed it down to the tuna ceviche, mushroom and cauliflower dish, yoghurt and thyme flatbreads and the white bean and tahini paté. The lime cured tuna ceviche was done in a chunky-style, and topped with shreds of spring onion and cucumber on top of sliced avo, and served with thin deep fried pizza-like dough. It was such a lovely fresh dish, and really fine quality tuna. The mushroom and cauliflower lay on a base of Gruyere cheese purée and was topped with flaked almonds and thinly sliced radish. This dish showed off The Mess’s ability to offer something different and although the array of sound fairly opposing, they were somehow complimentary and exceptionally tasty.
For dessert, I ordered the crème brulee (obviously), which was without a doubt one of the best ones I’ve eaten. A certain Italian restaurant around the corner has always been my favourite for the dessert, but it’s safe to say The Mess is on a par in the crème brulee department.
The dinner was like a breath of fresh air. The Mess’s versatile menu offers diners an experience that doesn’t really exist in the Cape Town area. The amalgamation of cuisines really is unique and is far from a mess in the normal sense of the word! The menu is ideal for the upcoming summer climate and it has something to offer a variety of tastes, whether you’re up for a snack or tapa dish, or a more substantial main meal.
At the moment The Mess is only open for dinner with plans to have an after work tapas and drinks sitting between 4 and 6pm, either at the bar or at tables.
Food24 was invited by The Mess pre-opening.
- Ceili McGeever