When next you go to the V&A Waterfront, be sure to head down to the end of Quay 5; past the helicopter and boat charter podiums on your right en route to the Table Bay Hotel. It’s there you will find the well-hidden Seelan Restaurant and Bar.
The restaurant has been open for around 19 months, and as I was escorted to my table I immediately declared to my dining partner, ‘This place has an incredible view.’ Tucked away in the corner of the V&A, Seelan’s has an unobstructed view of Table Mountain. It feels disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the Waterfront, which is definitely one of its most alluring features.
The cane woven chairs and crisp white tablecloths give Seelan a trendy, yet unassuming feel and the outside ambience on a cool summer’s evening was downright delightful. The inside areas are well-lit and spacious, and a magnificent feature bar watches over the patrons.
The owner (read: the man with his name on the plates), Seelan Sundoo, has a history in the service industry, having worked as a chef at Shimmy Beach Club and the Reserve Brasserie. He’s also very easy to find as he happily clears away plates from his well-fed clientele’s tables. Our manager for the evening, Ashley was assisted by our waitron, Jason, with the pair offering recommendations aplenty while still allowing us enough time to enjoy the food, the atmosphere, and the views of a lit-up Table Mountain and Cape Wheel.
The menu is as varied as the nationalities of the customers. American, British and German accents were heard throughout the night, with many locals choosing to dine at Seelan for the night as well. Ashley remarked that the restaurant prides itself on being able to cater for all tastes, adding that their menu can’t be lumped into one genre.
For starters I had the Carpaccio de Boeuf (R85) – slivers of beef sirloin seared and accompanied by fresh rocket, parmesan cheese and lashings of a delicious mustard vinaigrette. My partner opted for the Seafood Bouillabaisse (R98) – a healthy portion of assorted linefish, calamari and mussels served from a silver terrine.
I had heard good thing’s about Seelan’s Prawn Curry (R155), and opted for that as my main course. Jason promised to not make it too spicy for me, and it was accompanied by a sizeable portion of rice and a homemand poppadom. My partner looked to have the Chicken Ravioli, but was quickly pointed towards the Mushroom and Truffles pasta dish instead (R105), with extra chicken. She was not disappointed, and dare I say enjoyed the best meal of the evening. Both dishes were melt-in-your-mouth good, with the spices used in the Prawn Curry reminiscent of a (thankfully tame) Durban variant.
Ashley and Jason plied us with suggestions from Seelan’s impressive wine list. We opted for a Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a Beaumont Chenin Blanc, which were both crisp and refreshing, and the perfect partnering with our meals.
For dessert we simply couldn’t decide what to have (with a wide selection ranging from R20 to R70). Jason suggested a custom-made dessert board, with offerings of Malva Pudding, Tiramisu, Baked Cheesecake and an incredible Flourless Chocolate Cake. In all honesty, I devoured the Chocolate Cake. I’m not even ashamed of how quickly I ate it.
It was the perfect end to a perfect evening, and as the wind died down and Seelan staff hurriedly lifted the restaurant’s outside windbreakers, I was left planning my next visit to what is arguably one of the hidden gems of the V&A Waterfront.
Photography Jonathan Meyer