Blanko at The Alphen Hotel – reviewed
The old 5 Rooms restaurant at the historic Alphen Hotel has had a re-vamp and it’s looking pretty foxy!
The setting is super-cool, Camps Bay comes to the ‘burbs chic with lots of white, lots of lounge music, lots of big, dramatic art on the walls courtesy of the Goodman Gallery.
The Alphen Hotel is a heritage building so they haven’t been able to alter it that much, but the changes made are a vast improvement on the stuffy, old-mens-club vibe of the previous incarnation. T
The restaurant is still spread over several different rooms with the central area operating as a bar and lounge and I guess that if you were the only people dining in one of the rooms, it might seem a bit empty. Luckily, that was not the case on the evening we dined there.
Italian, with plenty of meat and fish options. The chef, Amber-May Deetlefs has sensibly done a fairly Capetonian version of Italian cuisine – not straining guests too far by using foreign names for familiar dishes and covering everybody’s faves on a compact, but fairly wide-ranging menu.
There are nibbly things for drinkers, pizzas for kids, pastas for hungry people and, as I say, plenty of simple fish and meat options if you’re dieting or Banting. We started with a good fritto misto (or ‘mixed fried seafood’ as the menu describes it!), a generous portion of mussels and a super-tender, cut-with-a-spoon carpaccio.
Mains were a tasty though not particularly pretty-looking Veal Saltimbocca, a very good Lamb Ragu with Agnolotti – rich and filling – and a Prosciutto pizza for my son which featured generous amounts of prosciutto but was a little chewy. Whatever you do, save room for dessert – not normally my favourite course of a meal but on this occasion, the passion fruit semi-freddo with raspberries and oats was simply sublime and well-worth a re-visit on its own.
A pretty good wine list with many options by the glass, although the chenin section is sadly small. It’s catering to its market though, with loads of Sauvignons and a good sprinkling of familiar names. My husband was disappointed not to see craft beers on the menu – with the kind of trendista crowd this restaurant is likely to attract, I’d suggest they look at adding a few soon.
The service needs a little work. The waiter was charming and friendly but lacked a little finesse when it came to explaining the menu and pouring the wine. But, as I always say, you can teach table skills, you can’t teach a good attitude and the restaurant is still very new. I’m sure the managers – who were very present throughout – will sort this out soon.
A good addition to the Southern Suburbs and I can see that the terrace outside is going to be jam-packed with beautiful people this summer. It was great to be able to take the family and kids will find the menu very accessible and friendly, whilst adults chill in the sunshine with a nice glass of wine.
Follow Cathy Marston on Twitter @CathyMarston