Tapas is never going out of fashion. As soon as the trend starts dying down, along comes a restaurant which breathes new life into it. Tapas is in essence everything you hope for in a meal – a little taste-test of many of your favourite things. If you suffer from the same form of FOMO as I do – the one where you always order the wrong dish, and wish you had ordered what is now on your partner’s plate – then tapas is the perfect meal situation for you. Share and share alike, I say.

Coco Safar has created a well-balanced and delicious tapas dinner menu to rival some of the Mother City’s finest establishments.

When you step into the Artem Centre in Sea Point, you can be forgiven for thinking you have walked into a high-end food emporium in New York or Paris. The space has a high-end luxury feel, where every attention to detail has been seen to. There are so many layers to Coco Safar, I suggest you pay a leisurely visit to peel back a few of them. Start with the artisanal coffee experience then make your way through to the “world first” botanical micro-brewery. It is an immersive journey so take it in your stride.

The new tapas offering has been unveiled just in time for winter, the season when Cape Town sheds her tourist hat and allows locals to overindulge in food and drink pairings without the large crowds. Also, why cook when a great meal can be expertly prepared for you by Coco Safar’s well-travelled culinary team headed by executive chef Carmen Rueda, who spearheaded the experimental kitchen for British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal?

Diners are easily seduced into a good mood by dim-lighting, soft music, candlelit tables, and black and white movies that feature on screens around the eatery. It is very much about old-world charm and sophistication in dosages accessible to all.

Dim lighting and dark couches add to the old world charm.

First on the tapas train was the deep-fried golden, warm and gooey arancini with a delicate mushroom filling. As the evening proceeded, so did the innovation of the dishes. The smoked brisket ravioli drowning in a wintery vegetable broth with chives is a dish that makes a point without shouting. The flavours are subtle and enormous at the same time.

Other dishes on the menu included the grilled aubergine rosemary sweet potato mash, shimeij mushrooms and miso-honey glaze, and the herb-crust sea bass with grilled pakchoi, lemon-herb cream cheese and fish broth.

The herb crust sea bass with grilled pakchoi, lemon-herb cream cheese and fish broth.

The vegetarian options are on par with the meat options which is a refreshing change. Dessert was a spread of churros, macaroons and little frozen yoghurt balls covered in chocolate.

The menu is a showcase of flair and precision, much like the surroundings. It is clear that Chef Rueda understands great food and knows how to pair flavours to bring out the best in them. After each dish, you’re left guessing about that one ingredient that you can’t quite pinpoint.

The dinner tapas menu is available by reservation only from Wednesday to Saturday, so make sure you book ahead of time to avoid disappointment. The cost of the menu is R695 for the 8-course (for two people sharing), and R360 for the 4-course menu (for two people sharing).

If you are not in the mood for tapas, other dinner options from the all-day dining menu are available for walk-in guests.

Contact: +27 21 433 1336
Address: 277 Main Road, Artem Centre, Sea Point
Website: Cocosafar

Article written by

Nidha Narrandes

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.