Order from chaos; this is the overriding feeling when settling into FYN. The calm from the storm of traffic and people outside, the extraordinary Escher-esque interior – with its smart and considered wooden bead roof installation by Christoph Karl of Guideline Design – and the slick operation of the open kitchen. Watching from above, it’s like a ballet, with each member of the corps in fluid motion working around each other in a creative dance.
Only three years after opening, Peter Tempelhoff’s FYN restaurant in Cape Town has just placed 92nd on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 50-100 list. Since 2002, the awards have been a barometer for the world’s fine dining scene.
“This is a real watershed moment for us, it means the world. And for the announcement to come at this time is huge,” says Tempelhoff. “We’re really honoured… When you consider how many restaurants there are in the world, it truly is a big deal. I hope this will prove to be a catalyst to reignite conversations about food, and get people out and eating in Cape Town restaurants again.”
Looking out over Speaker’s Corner, it really is that slick and sophisticated. We arrived to complimentary glasses of Genevieve MCC, a delicate blush of bubbles to set the mood for an evening of luxurious indulgence. This is no fast food experience and the full (sublime) premium plant menu is a four-hour affair.
FYN prepares fresh ingredients in a fusion of Japanese and South African tastes with rigorous Japanese cooking methods, every morsel a taste explosion.
Each of the six courses is superbly paired with wine, starting with the canapés of cabbage and daikon maki, ostrich egg custard and Cape seasonal morel, tempura dune spinach, cauliflower shichimi crowned with the most delicious mushroom crème brûlée served with a Hokkaido milk bun.
There is a resting period between each course, to savour the flavours and reflect with your dining companions, and of course watch the ballet of the kitchen. This is food as theatre, as ritual, every piece of crockery carefully chosen to show off the best side of the dish. The celeriac chashu with onion and star anise and mirin toffee apples comes on a triangular platter, folder over to form a flattened bowl.
The warm mushroom ramen is embraced by the Morgenster Estate Reserve 2012, a pairing made in heaven. And then there is performance as the palate-cleansing blueberry and buchu kakigori is created at the table. A swirl of blueberry syrup, a swirl of buchu syrup, a mouthful of L’Ormarins Brut whisked together, the fine mist of liquid nitrogen like smoke on the water.
It’s time for the mains; the entire menu has led up to this, each course guiding your palate to the main event, educating your taste buds with complex flavours.
The trio of mains is paired with the outstanding 2016 Vanguard from The Fledge & Co. Just 19 barrels were produced, the wine earning 94 points from Tim Atkins. There is a sublime artichoke risotto, tempura tofu and the finest of all, the karaage aubergine with asparagus. You really are in heaven.
Dessert is a symphony of strawberry, with coconut kasutera, umeboshi, strawberry ice cream, wild rice and sweet furikake, beautifully paired with the not-too-sweet Thelema Sémillon Late Harvest.
Chef Bea Malherbe pops round to graciously accept praise and gratitude. It really is that good.
Fyn is at 5th Floor, Speaker’s Corner building, 37 Parliament Street, Cape Town. For reservations: Fyn.
The historic Speakers’ Corner is located on the corner of Church Square and Parliament Street in the heart of the city bowl. It consists of two heritage buildings: the three-story Church Square building, erected in 1898 and the five-story Parliament Street building, erected in 1928.
Review: Lorraine Kearney