Café Del Sol Botanica reviewed
You’re greeted with a warm smile and wowed by the décor as you enter this sophisticated and meticulously designed space. The tables are well spaced and the ambience is perfect. The service is on point and there are waiters at every turn to assist you with anything you need; they know the menu well and are great at making suggestions based on whatever tickles your fancy.
Starters for the most part were lovely, the mussels in a garlic, parsley and fennel cream were as fresh as you can get anywhere in South Africa (and that’s coming from Johannesburg), they were plump and delicate, cooked to perfection in a well-balanced sauce. The beetroot carpaccio was fantastic, eclectic and surprising, with the citrus of orange segments and strawberries cutting through the richness of the Gorgonzola cheese beautifully. The halloumi, salami and sundried tomato spring rolls were okay, but they lacked the finesse of the mussels and the beetroot carpaccio.
Then we were served a focaccia topped with marinated tomatoes and Parma ham which was light and fresh, almost like a bruschetta, but with less emphasis on the bread and more on the toppings which I loved.
The mains were hit and miss – the sesame crusted salmon with avocado mash and Campari and fresh grapefruit salsa was just delightful; perfectly cooked with vibrant flavours and beautifully plated, it just put a smile on my face, but the stuffed calamari with stir-fried vegetables and cappellini pasta was rather mediocre – there were no defining flavours and, while everything was perfectly cooked, I would have preferred a plate of perfectly cooked calamari and vegetables without any of the trimmings or pasta.
The dessert was superb – a milk tart panna cotta with biscotti crumble- just wow – such a wonderfully South African take on a traditional Italian dessert – subtle hints of spice paired with the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the panna cotta – it was just gorgeous!
I have one big bugbear and that is that when you open the menu half of the main dishes are specified at ‘SQ’ (‘subject to quotation’ or in colloquial terms ‘silly question’ - a term that is usually reserved for seafood such as crayfish, imported fish or truffles that can vary hugely in price from day to day), but the entire red meat section as well as any dish with fish or red meat were marked ‘SQ’ which I have never seen in any restaurant.
That aside, in a nutshell: the attention to detail is beautiful, the flowers, the hanging plants, the eloquent waiters and exquisite finishings make is a great spot in terms of ambience and overall experience, but it is on the pricey side, starters are around R80, pastas are all around R130 and all the “SQ” items are subject to change.
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