A stark white building with a signboard that says Chefs. I’ve passed it a few times, it sits on the corner of St John’s and Vrede Street in Gardens, and until now I assumed it was a cooking school.
As far as the Cape’s Culinary scene goes, more is definitely more, and less is for those who wished they had more. But Chefs moots that debate, less is far more than one could have imagined.
The restaurant is very clinical, it could very well be a canteen anywhere. There is no decor, the simplest seating arrangements and an open kitchen for you to watch your food being prepped. That is all.
I must admit, when I looked around I was concerned about how I would find the words to describe the nothingness. And then, the food landed on my table, and the entire concept made complete sense to me. It matters not about the surroundings, the food is the star of the show, the only star in the show and it’s all the drama you need.
So… there are no waiters, the chefs serve you drinks, take your orders and bring your meals to the table. The advantage is that it is a small restaurant so the tables are manageable. The electronic menu changes daily and you have three options to choose from, a meat, fish and a vegetarian option. And the next course is dessert, which has only one option.
I ordered the wood-fire roasted lamb dish – with no expectation, I was totally blown away by the food. Firstly, the portion sizes are pretty decent – my meal was delivered on a tray with pita bread, thick cut potatoes, a fresh salad and accompaniments for my lamb.
The meat was sliced thinly, soaked in a rich gravy, it delivered on the wood-smoked flavour and couldn’t possibly have been prepared any better. The lamb was tender and succulent, and made for an interesting make-it-yourself pita compilation. I need to take a minute to talk about Head Chef Jenny Ward’s preparation of the salad. Thinly sliced green apple lay together with grape leaves, spinach, slivers of almonds and crumbles of danish feta – dripping in a silky delicious dressing – something that good could never be healthy, but it was. There wasn’t a shred of the salad left. And as big as the portions were, I handed the chef a bone dry tray.
Dessert was a chocolate brownie with homemade ice-cream, it was all sorts of incredible. The ice-cream was rich and comforting and the brownie was perfection, yes I said perfection.
The restaurant has been opened for two years and when many guests were greeted like old friends, it made sense that the restaurant is a firm favourite among the locals, who would love to keep their secret hidden. Unfortunately, the food is too good to not share far and wide, so do yourself a favour and check it out. You won’t be sorry you tried, the star of the show is worth a standing ovation and an encore is sure to follow shortly.
The menu prices start at R195 – R225 for the tray of food – and still or sparkling water are included in the cost. Drinks and dessert are additional costs.
Pictures: Nidha Narrandes/Chefs Facebook