With a menu designed for celebrations (think two- and three-course meals), Mangata is a terrific place for a special occasion with a balcony overlooking the Simon’s Town Main Road and a beautiful view of the harbour.
Open since September last year, Mangata offers bistro-style dining in an elegant, casual setting with furniture and decor inspired by seaside holidays and interesting artworks displayed across its walls. Many of these works are by a local artist and depict mangata, which is a Swedish word describing the glimmering reflection made by the moon when it hits the water and from which the restaurant derives its name. These works stand in stark contrast to other art by Daniel Smith that depict his family, reminiscent of Renaissance painting and offset with touches of modernism. The establishment also houses a 100-year-old painting by an unknown artist which is, according to staff, haunted.
Now, on to the food, which is, after all, really what we’re here for. Simple foods are the order of the day with Chef William Sharp, a product of the Swiss Hotel School who has also racked up many years under the tutelage of French Chef Pascal Didier, plating fresh light meals with a Mediterranean bent. Begin your meal with the tuna tartare with soy sauce or Caprese salad with Bocconcini, tomato and basil that will transport you across the ocean with its medley of flavours. If you’re feeling indulgent, the ostrich carpaccio with horseradish snow and a bloody Mary Kelly will hit the spot and put you in the mood for even more of the chef’s tantalising creations.
Mains is a smorgasbord of tapas-style offerings in larger portions that are also perfect for sharing. The risotto with hazelnuts and feta is a sure winner – although hurry to sink your teeth into this dish as it changes every two weeks – while the seared tuna served on a bed of vermicelli noodles with a summer garden salad dressed in soy orange reduction will have you wondering why on earth no one else has thought to serve tuna in this unique yet tasty way. Saving yourself for dessert instead? The wild mushroom bruschetta with wild mushroom ragout and croute is both light and satisfying.
There’s no shortage of dessert on the Mangata menu but ask the chef and he’ll easily list his three favourites: yoghurt panna cotta with strawberry mousse and mixed berries – as divine as it sounds; an orange-scented brownie with a coffee ganache and toffee sauce, which is extremely indulgent and made for two; and the Mangata vanilla and cardamon, which is a saffron poached pear with vanilla and cardamom mousse and amaretta crumble that will easily turn you on to the virtues of poached pears.
Throughout the meal, there are touches of both French and local Cape Malay flavours – from vermicelli and saffron to cardamom – that rest gently on your palette and are savoured long after your meal has ended. But that’s not all. Mangata also has a small but well-stocked bar that carries an extensive and very South African-friendly wine range. The majority of the offerings are only available by the bottle but if you prefer only having a glass or two, they have a few options, including Pongracz Brut MCC.
Photography Samantha Pinto/HMimages.co.za