The Belgians know how to eat, drink and be merry. That’s a fact. This warm hospitality is manifested right here in Cape Town at Den Anker restaurant, an icon of the V&A Waterfront that has been going strong for over 19 years.
While Cape Town may be battening down the hatches this winter, Den Anker is stoking the fire inside their cosy fire place and switching things up for the chilly months with some new exciting additions to their menu:
Moules Mondays – a kilo of Belgian-style mussels and frites for R100.
Trappist Tuesdays – a platter of cheeses with every Trappist beer.
Weight loss Wednesdays – a selection of low-carb or Banting meals with the option of a glass of wine for R90.
Thirsty Thursdays – taste a wide range of Belgian draught beers for R50.
Fishy Fridays – fish and frites along with a white beer for R90.
Spanish Saturdays – three Tapas treats for R120.
Sunday Savings – children under the age of 10 eat free with every adult meal ordered.
We kicked off a great evening at the restaurant with a beer tasting, which was a selection of mighty fine Belgian beer including Vedette extra white, La Chouffe, and De Koninck. Our server, Cousin, appropriately pointed out the pink-coloured Liefman’s Fruitesse beer in the tasting and warned me that I might actually like it – ‘pink drink’ stigma and all. It was pretty good, but you’ll never hear me admit that.
Special mention must go to Cousin for being an exceptional server, with solid product knowledge and useful pairing recommendations. Buy that man a beer! When he’s off duty, of course.
I have never been the biggest fan of mussels, but I have to admit that my perception was changed about eating the mollusc after trying it at Den Anker. It seems that the moules marinières is a hit at the restaurant and was recommended by friends to try it when visiting. The starter portion is a hefty half a kilo in size, which sounds intimidating at first but as I discovered roughly equates to 15-20 mussels. Armed with my trusty bib fitted by Cousin, I tucked in and thoroughly enjoyed!
The pièce de résistance was my steak au Poivre ‘Den Anker’ – a delicious, panfried fillet steak covered with crushed white pepper and flambéed in a rich cream sauce. My dining partner’s choice was the Kingklip Den Anker, fish done to perfection and served on a bed of spinach with an aromatic tomato coulis.
When eating out you’re never too full for dessert, we went for the chocolate mousse made with Belgian callebaut chocolate and tarte aux pommes, a hot apple cake served with a choice of cream or ice cream – even though I had loosened up my belt by a notch or two at this point. Both were excellent recommendations and we absolutely had no more room for anything else after, but Cousin talked us into the finale – a pairing of beer and cheese.
Den Anker is the only place I know of in Cape Town that stocks a very special kind of Belgian beer called Chimay. The beer is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery under the control and responsibility of a community of monks. Serving a beer just below room temperature might not usually be everybody’s cup of tea, but the Chimay was very complimentary with Den Anker’s cheese platter.
It would be fair to say that you can see why Den Anker has retained its location and iconic status at the V&A Waterfront where others have failed. There really is a little something for everybody here (including the beer!) and the winter specials are going to give Capetonians a good reason to get out of hibernation for a visit.
Photography Bev Klein