Chefs Warehouse has grown beyond its Cape Town CBD base, with award-winning outposts established in Constantia and Franschhoek – but the original claims a spot on our list for the role it’s played in establishing Bree Street as one of the finest food streets in the world, and the value represented by its offering.
The property’s evolution into one of the city’s finest restaurants has been quirky, to say the least. Established as a cookery school and store which stocked supplies for the city’s burgeoning chef population in 2010, a tapas restaurant was established in 2014, with the latest iteration now home to a wine bar and restaurant – sans educational and retail options.
Its offering remains simple – and refreshing: it’s only open for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, doesn’t accept reservations, and offers a set-price tapas menu for two (currently R750) as its sole dining offering. Seasonal risotto is a fixture, and the multiple courses arrive in three ‘tranches’ – multiple dishes to a ‘course’ that maximise the sharing potential and allows the kitchen a measure of control over the dining experience. Still, the menu changes just about daily and marries seasonal ingredients with astonishing technical skill to produce dishes that are as eye-catching as they are tasty. It’s fine dining, simplified – and democratized, to an extent, by the limitation of options and removal of lengthy advance booking requirements. Desserts are more of a fixture on the menu and are available as an optional extra.
Sister restaurants Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia and Chefs Warehouse at Maison both offer a slightly more refined experience – both have eclipsed the original by claiming spots on the nationwide EatOut Top 20 list – but that privilege comes with a price premium, as well as the requirement to make advance bookings. Part of the charm of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen is the chance to join the inevitable queue ahead of lunch or dinner and enjoy one of the city’s finest meals, without having to plan months ahead.
If the queue gets too long or you can’t grab a table right away, the space is now home to a particularly stylish wine bar, where you can enjoy wines from unusual producers, a selection of innovative cocktails and a decent list of spirits and coffees, while you wait for your name to rise to the top of the waiting list.
The setting is cosy and stylish – and blissfully peaceful, thanks to the small number of seats available. Long tables are shared, making for a somewhat communal, yet still very personal meal. The service is thorough and attentive and the addition of the wine bar has significantly bulked up the wine list, with – gloriously – 99% of the offering available by the glass.
Bag a spot on the bar stools along the patio in summer to watch the city start to sizzle as the sun sets.
92 Bree Street,