A blank canvas? Anything but. Driving up to Blanko restaurant situated inside the Alphen Hotel in Constantia, you can’t help but admire the lush green surroundings and friendly statues that greet you. While the building is stark white, the location is far from it.

It is an ideal space for leisurely lunches, family get-togethers and lazy brunches. Whether you choose to sit inside or outside, you’re guaranteed a different feel every time, which is probably why you can keep going back – your experience changes, but the great taste stays the same.

A trendy bar near the entrance.

At the entrance we’re greeted by bold art and an unconventional bar. This is how you please your guests from the get-go, drinks first and foremost. They know good hospitality. Walking through the restaurant, there are different areas of seating, courtyards and tasteful deco. Art is an important aspect of the aesthetic and it pulls together the feel of the room harmoniously.

The menu is an ode to traditional Italian food, with an emphasis on seafood. Fresh homemade pastas, hearty meat dishes and simple preparation are key. Simple is always better. Starters range from R85-R105 and include Arancini, Tuna Cruda, Mussels and prawns, and other fish and vegetarian options. I opt for the Tuna Crudo, served with a touch of chilli, garlic, fennel, sea salt, pink peppercorns, and lemon.

Decadent steak dishes at Blanko.

It was freshly prepared but didn’t quite have a strong flavour profile. This is somewhat understandable because tuna is rich enough to stand on it’s own, but it needed a little something more.

Between the smells wafting past me of some dangerously delicious dishes and my visual understanding of the menu, choosing my main meal took some careful thought. It is impressive that prices range between R85 – R225 for a main meal, for Cape Town, that’s a steal.

grilled rump with portobello mushrooms, a touch of garlic,  a sprig of parsley and chips costs a reasonable R180. But when in seafood heaven, you should order accordingly. I opted for the sole with capers, herbs, lemon and citrus rice. The fish lifted off the bone with no coaxing at all, it was that fresh. And the delicately fragranced citrus rice was a perfect combination. The meal, priced at R225, satisfied my cravings of a well-balanced dish, without all the calories.

Dessert is a decadent affair.

Dessert choices included a mascarpone semifreddo, with strawberries and cocoa nibs. Then there is also the yoghurt panna cotta with apricot purée or the classic vanilla crème brûlée. After saving my calories on mains, I needed to redistribute them on dessert, so I settled for the chocolate tart paired courageously with ricotta crème, hazelnuts and salted caramel. I can confidently say I ordered the perfect dessert. The chocolate was overly rich but well balanced out by the ricotta and toned down with the salted caramel. It was a revelation, and at R70, I highly recommend it. 

As with all good restaurants in Cape Town, you can expect world-class wines to be paired with your meals. And the best part is that you are a quick drive away from many of the farms producing these delectable wines.

A stroll around the magnificent gardens will help you digest your hearty meal and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to watch squirrels scurrying across the green lawns in search of their supper.

There is a strong artistic influence to the restaurant.

Contact: +27 (0) 21 795 6300
Address: Alphen Drive, Constantia, Cape Town
Website: www.alphen.co.za

Article written by

Nidha Narrandes is a food-obsessed travel addict with 21 years of journalism experience. Her motto - Travel. Eat. Repeat. She is happiest on a road to nowhere without a plan. A masterchef at home, she can't do without chilli - because chilli makes the world a tastier place.