In the hot pursuit of enjoying summer, its lazy endless days and Long Island ice teas, Capetonians and visitors alike scurry for the coolest spots to be seen, Instagrammed and tagged.
Chinchilla in Camps Bay is a breath of fresh air, literally. You want to stop, take in the view and inhale a deep breath of salty sea air – the scent of relaxation.
Located on Cape Town’s favourite strip of beach, Chinchilla has unlocked the trifecta all restaurateurs strive for – location + exquisite cocktails + exceptional food.
Location. It really is (almost) everything in this business, and Chinchilla is blessed with a bird’s eye view of the Camps Bay strip, located above its Kove Collection siblings Zenzero and Bilboa. If you can tear your eyes away from the sunset in front of you, there are generous views of the Twelve Apostles and Lion’s Head to the left and right.
From the first welcome to the last goodbye, the staff and service here are warm and accommodating; something of a rarity among high-flying establishments in Cape Town these days. Returning customers are greeted by name, which says a lot more than this review ever could.
At first glance the laidback décor and music immediately transport you to another head space. Deep, groovy house music winds down the tempo of the day, before you take a sip of my new favourite cocktail – Dill or No Dill. Ask for it by name. Just do it. It is the perfect combination of salty, sweet, tangy and incredible. It is a mix of Tanqueray Gin, elderflower syrup, fresh cucumber, dill, lemon juice and sea salt.
The cocktail menu has been tailor-made by in-house mixologists, and it deserves respect for the amount of thought and technique that went into creating each masterpiece cocktail. There are so many reasons to go, but above all, go for the cocktails. The concoctions are expertly mixed and to say that it’s like nothing I have ever tried is no overstatement. I stand by it.
The food at Chinchilla has awakened my tastebuds from their 2017 slumber. It’s a little early in the year to choose a favourite but this might just be the one to beat in 2018. The starter to try is the bouillabaisse, which is a velvety tomato based fish stew. Other starters include a prawn cocktail, beef carpaccio, fresh oysters and a caprese salad, among others.
The broth in the bouillabaisse can only be described as soul-caressing goodness, the seafood was so fresh, it could have very well been caught minutes before. The rich stew laden with prawns, monkfish, clams, mussels and fennel was infused with saffron. Enough said.
A well-rounded bouillabaisse is all about the depths of the broth. The deep colour and rich flavour profile on this particular dish is on point and unmatched in Cape Town.
I had similar feels about my main course of grilled prawns and a green salad. The succulent prawns were the size of my hands, and cooked to an inch of perfection. Basted in butter, garlic and a slight brush of chilli – it is the simplest meal on the grandest scale. The green salad was equally good, rocket, pine nuts, slashings of gracefully aged parmesan cheese and a dressing is the exact accompaniment for this main course.
Other mains include steak bernaise, black mussels, and burgers if that’s your fancy.
Dessert is delicious enough, a chocolate brownie with ice-cream, simple concept, mind-blowing flavour. You can also try their creme brûlée or seasonal fruit.
The tunes at Chinchilla are not just background music for dining purposes. They take it seriously here. DJ Tess and DJ Charles Webster are residents, and their mixes are available on Mixcloud. It is the thread that binds the entire experience together.
Chinchilla is built for the summer and the sunsets, but all indications are that it will be a firm favourite all year around. It’s built for Cape Town’s beauty, it’s vibe and its peoples’ charm.
Pictures: Supplied & Nidha Narrandes