Cape Town’s über restaurateur has done it again! After opening Burrata in 2010 (It won Best Italian in the 2013 EatOut Awards), and another Italian in the form of Bocca on Cape Town’s trendy Bree Steet in 2014, Neil Grant and his business partner, Barry Engelbrecht have turned things up a notch with the newest addition to their burgeoning restaurant empire - Open Door in the beautiful Constantia Winelands.
Food24 was treated to an epic lunch and tour of the new restaurant and wow – were we blown away! The style steps out of the Italian mould to reveal the slick but homey modern contemporary dining experience that Neil and his team have envisioned. This really is a place for everyone – businessmen, families, tourists, girly get-togethers and even corporate events and functions.
The reason it works so well eclectically is that each area of the building makes way for something slightly different – sophisticated dining in one, intimate private dinners in another and a more airy, feminine section with beautiful natural light and views of the sprawling Constantia Uitsig lawns and vineyards. During Summer you can sit outside on the terrace and watch the sun dip behind the mountain while sipping a glass of something chilled.
Head chef, Annemarie Steenkamp has compiled a menu that’s fun and exciting without being too intimidating – think open lasagne with mushrooms, vichyssoise and crispy Parmesan, Chalmar beef sirloin with orange sweet potato, puy lentils, pickled cucumber and cranberry jus, aniseed panna cotta with guava fennel compote and almond crumbs, walnut and banana cake with dulcey creameaux and banana sorbet. Do those dishes not make your salivary glands jump up and down with excitement? They also have plans to offer breakfasts and for those who consider themselves pastry enthusiasts, you're in for a treat, because Christine de Villiers, former Pastry Chef at The Tasting Room/Le Quartier Francais has joined the kitchen brigade. Look out for her homemade breads and croissants!
If you enjoy a restaurant with an open kitchen, then you will love the culinary theatre that is played out by Annemarie and her team. In fact, it forms one of the bold focus points and one can’t help but take a curious peep now and then at what’s going on behind the busy pass.
The wine list is also something to write home about making it one of the unique selling points of the restaurant. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more interesting, varied and well-put together wine list in SA. Neil is a sommelier and does a brilliant job in educating his guests by showcasing hidden-gem vineyards and unexpected varietals. It truly elevates the entire dining experience. His passion is palpable and it is clear that front of house staff training is a top priority. But I suppose after opening 9 restaurants (3 of his own), he must know what he's doing. A highlight for me was receiving a fish knife with my linefish – this kind of small attention to detail goes a long way.
There’s also a chic and sexy bar near the entrance of the restaurant; inviting with it's gorgeous art deco tiled floor and swanky bar stools. I think it will become a great spot to wind down with a colleague or a group of friends after a hectic (or normal!) work day. I didn't check but I hope they serve Negronis - my favourite classic cocktail.
I have already recommended this restaurant to a handful of people and look forward to going back myself for dinner or a lazy weekend breakfast. Or even just to have a glass of wine if I'm in the area. It's that kind of place.
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Disclaimer: Food24 was a guest of Open Door for this experience but all views are our own.
- Tessa Purdon