(images: The Shortmarket Club / Tessa Purdon)
The Shortmarket Club is currently one of SA’s top 10 restaurants and with good reason. It’s part of Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ tiny empire which should give you an indication of the quality and service one ought to expect. Luke’s The Test Kitchen was recently awarded the 50th best restaurant in the world. And while we applaud his outstanding achievements, The Shortmarket Club wouldn’t be what it is without the passionate and driven Wesley Randles who has established himself as a chef that truly honours seasonal ingredients, while fervently maintaining the quality and integrity of the food on his menu. This can be experienced in every element and really comes to the fore in his Winter lunch prix fixe menu.
Prix fixe is a French term that means, ‘fixed price’. Which means you know exactly what you’ll be paying before you even sit down at the table. While some might baulk at spending R280 for 3 courses (with a very substantial amuse bouche and bread course!), the value you’re getting is pretty outstanding. The service is faultless and there’s a nice element of food theatre in the mix, where dishes are finished off table-side by the highly capable front of house staff. Throw in the fact that you’re eating at an Eat Out top 10 restaurant… it’s simply unbeatable. And I intend to go back again before the end of September.
What to expect from the food
The bread course is not to be sniffed at. A warm baguette is brought to the table with homemade butter, homemade ricotta and heady olive oil balsamic mix.
Next, a welcome surprise comes in the form of an amuse bouche. On the day I was there we were served a tartare of springbok. A heavenly start to the meal that really wakes up the taste buds with its zingy and tangy flavours, the umami from the Parmesan cheese and the delightful crunchy textures from the crisp raw endive.
The starter is probably one of the best seafood dishes I have eaten in a long time. A Balinese-style tuna belly with lemongrass, chilli, basil, hot coconut oil and fresh lime. The food was elevated even more by the pairing of the Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc. (There is an option of adding a carafe of wine to your lunch – white for an extra R55 and red for an extra R100).
The highlight of the main course was indeed the mouthwatering smoked mussel aioli that accompanied the fish of the day which happened to be Steenbras. It was bathed in a creamy lemon and tarragon veloute that was a perfect match for the fresh, flaky fish. A tasty and unusual element on the plate was a small rectangular block of fried pannise (a chickpea flour cake).
The Shortmarket Club uses the Abalobi app to source its fish, thereby empowering small-scale fishers while also ensuring ultimate freshness.
The dessert of rhubarb crumble sadly left me feeling a little underwhelmed. The rhubarb was completely overpowered by an overly sweet Mascarpone catalan and I didn’t really catch a glimpse of the pine nut ice cream that was indicated on the menu. Having said that, the dish was saved by the sprinkling of rusk ‘crumble’ and if you know me, you’ll know my affection for rusks runs deep.
Book your Prix Fixe lunch before the end of September!
It’s available on Monday – Saturday, 12.30 PM – 2 PM
3-courses for R280 or 3-courses with a carafe of wine for R380