Review: Café Del Sol Tre in Johannesburg
It all started with Classico in Olivedale, then they wowed us with their beauteous Botanico in Bryanston and now Parkhurst has welcomed the aptly named TRE, meaning ‘three’ (their third restaurant celebrating the three members of the family).
The interior is magnificent; you will feel completely immersed within a world of 1920’s Art Deco swag. Every aspect, from the angular mirrors, stunning bar, sensational lighting, striking colour palate, perfect acoustics and attention to every detail is a big part of what has made Café Del Sol a tour de force, one might call them the emperors of ambience.
Service too is on point; the waiters and management cruise from table to table, working as a well-oiled machine to ensure that your every need is met – they’re more than happy to go the extra mile.
All the dishes on the menu are named after titles of famous 1920’s songs. To start, the chart toppers include the Broadway Melody: organic chicken livers in a creamy sage, mustard and balsamic sauce topped with fried onion rings, the Charleston: fresh black mussels in a fresh, creamy garlic and parsley sauce, as well as a beautiful array of salmon, beetroot, springbok and tomato carpaccios, each with its own quirky title. For mains there’s an emphasis on homemade gnocchi and pasta alongside their signature risottos, salacious salads and a selection of meaty mains. Recommendations include their Mediterranean-stuffed calamari atop angel hair pasta and stir-fried vegetables tossed in a beurre blanc sauce, the oxtail risotto and the homemade ravioli of the day.
The Scottish salmon was served handsomely seared with a green olive and cherry tomato salsa sauce as well as a sweet and savoury chickpea mash which was a beautiful pairing. Also on the dish however, was a large chunk of carrot and some heads of broccoli and cauliflower which I felt just detracted from the finesse of the dish, they were overtly bulky and, if replaced with some dainty baby vegetables or long-stemmed broccoli, would have made the world of difference. In the same vein the fillet special; a 200g piece of exquisite meat served with a stunning portabellini mushroom sauce was served atop a very mediocre and rather dry saffron risotto – it just didn’t ooze or have a the richness in flavour and creamy texture that one would expect, it once again detracted from the dish.
To drink, we ordered 2 cocktails and a good bottle of red from their impressive list – I would recommend going early and sitting at their vivacious bar to enjoy one of the many treats on offer. I told our waiter I had issues with the more-often-than-not, overly sweet cocktails you find at SA bars – I asked if I could order the French cocktail comprising gin, MCC, citrus and sugar syrup and asked them to halve the sweetness – it was just marvellous! My partner ordered a gin martini and, even though it was shaken rather than stirred, it was very good.
Desserts are an absolute must. Seriously, they’re fantastic. The pavlova is a gargantuan slice of meringue piled high with berries, cream and coulis, the chocolate fondant hot pot, served with peanut butter ice cream, is delightfully decadent and meltingly soft, and the creamy chamomile panna cotta with lemon curd, served in a charming teacup alongside a crisp lemon sorbet, is just magic.