“The Bungalow… The only restaurant to boast a Clifton address”.
I like Clifton. I like food. This should be more of formality than anything else. This was exactly how I felt about going to the brand new and much hyped about Cape Town restaurant, The Bungalow.
For myself and many others who grew up in Cape Town or have visited over the years, this particular little piece of real estate is synonymous with good times, music, cocktails, sunsets and many a hangover. What was once the home of La Med has been re-imagined into a decidedly more upmarket restaurant, lounge and bar by the name of The Bungalow. In the space of only 8 weeks, the venue was completely ripped apart and put back together for its launch on 23 December 2011.
From the moment you arrive you immediately get the feeling that this particular establishment has made far better of the prime location situated at the very edge of Clifton 4th Beach. Mediterranean colours play off of a white-washed beach cabin motif, which is enhanced by a cute little splash pool (unfortunately at the time there were no hot models splashing inside of it). The white and blue makes you feel like you’re about to walk into the company of the jet-set- owning an island is simply part of a Bungalow patron’s life (ok I may be over exaggerating but you get the point). The main restaurant area’s interior is a combination of materials and fixtures featuring honey-coloured marble and reclaimed wood as well as ornate mirrors and collections of small chandeliers.
It is the vision of Paul Kovensky, successful restaurateur and hotelier and owner of The Kove, Paranga, Zenzero, Pepenero, 5 Rooms, La Belle, Rose Bar and The Alphen Hotel, who opened The Bungalow with well-known Johannesburg based hospitality guru Chris Coutroulis.
It is open from 12:00 – 02:00 daily with a menu that caters for light bistro lunches and sushi to complete dinners. Oh, and I can’t forget the cocktails- what would a seaside restaurant be without a great choice of signature cocktails? I decided that given the fact that the air had started to develop a distinct Winter-like chill, it would probably be best to pop down to The Bungalow for a little Sunday lunch and really take in the surrounding atmosphere of the restaurant and view of the ocean. We were fortunate to have been booked on the patio and deck area, which apart from keeping you protected from the wind (it wasn’t exactly a calm day windwise in Cape Town), also offers an unobstructed seaside dining experience with a 360 degree view which includes the Clifton ocean shore and the 12 Apostles and Lion’s Head. They even have blankies to keep you warm, should the heaters not be sufficient to keep you warm.
Our waiter for the day, Fabian did a very good job recommending drinks that would help us get in the right frame of mind to enjoy some food given our current state (she recovering from flu and I was mildly hungover).
Something to get your palettes going? Something to get you ready for an afternoon with us in Sun?
So martinis it was. I had my signature dirty vodka martini and was immediately asked how dirty I would like my martini to be (something that’s never happened in all my time drinking martinis)- I was suitably impressed. My mooiness and date for the afternoon decided on a slightly more girly Apple-infused martini (or appletinis as they’re referred to by some less than butch individuals). Right, drinks out of the way. When the drinks arrived shortly after, I was impressed by the fact they had executed my order for an extra dirty martini (hold the jokes now) to the T without making it taste like a glass full of olive juice with a splash of vodka in it. The Appletini was good too (I tasted it after I made sure nobody was looking).
Now onto the real business- the food. I always try to have a dish recommended by the waiter as it gives me a pretty good idea of what the good stuff is. Then just to play Devils Advocate, I also order something else not recommended just to see if the standard of food is consistent throughout.
For starters I went for the oysters. They were almost transparent with a texture that allowed you to chew the shelled delicacy without it completely falling apart before swallowing. They were fairly sized, although I did think they could have been a little bigger given their quoted s.q menu price. To accompany these, we ordered Salmon Roses. I always worry that restaurants that try to capture the widest possible amount of tastes by offering designer sushi as part of their menu, suffer in this department when it comes to delivery. This was definitely not the case with these Salmon Roses. They were absolutely delicious and some of the best I’ve tasted in Cape Town. They made use of large caviar on top and the flavours were subtle where they should be with the wonderful fresh salmon taste coming through with each mouthful.
For mains I went with a Madagascar steak with the usual peppercorns and a reduced cream and wholegrain mustard sauce (an ingredient which can be quite overpowering if you’re not careful with it). I thoroughly enjoyed the rich steak sauce and with the meat cooked to my exact order (how often do restaurants mess this up?!), I was definitely a happy panda.
The second order of mains was the calamari. Having gone to Pepenero on several occasions just for the calamari, I was concerned that The Bungalow’s offering wouldn’t match up. Unfortunately I was right- the calamari tubes were well portioned with a slightly more than average amount calamari heads. The more healthy grilled option, lacked flavour somewhat where I was expecting it to shine. I couldn’t taste more than a hint of Paprika- the chilli-oil extra dressing we had ordered as an extra definitely saved the dish from almost being a bit bland.
So overall, things were going well. The restaurant had filled up for the Sunday lunch rush and food was flying out of the kitchen at a pace. Time for more drinks. I went for the signature Bungalow Iced Tea which is an interesting take on a Long Island Iced tea, where the coke is replaced by a ginger ale and banana liquer mix, forming a very different but alluring base note. It was DEADLY. It tasted like I was having juice from my mom on a family outing from my childhood but I could literally feel myself getting drunker with each sip. The signature cocktails at The Bungalow are well worth trying, while I was there, there were a group of guys who had endeavoured to try each offering from the list. It must have been a great Sunday followed by a terrible Monday morning for those chaps.
To finish off the meal we hit the dessert portion of the menu deciding on a chocolate sundae and crème brulee. I don’t particularly enjoy crème brulee but according to Stacey, it was pretty much the best one she had ever had (and she is the self-proclaimed queen of crème brulees). I was expecting my dessert in a glass and when it arrived looking all fancy in a flat bowl I really didn’t know what to think. As soon as I had my first spoonful, I knew I had made the right the decision. Moist Brownie, with Ice Cream and a freshly made Bar One chocolate sauce (no bottle stuff here)- come on, that’s heaven on a plate! The Bungalow take on the chocolate sundae really is out of this world, if you have a sweet tooth, it is a MUST.
The pricing isn’t exactly aimed at a chimney-sweep’s salary but you never feel like you’re “paying for the location” without good quality food to back it up. Instead of a high paced in and out type of service, I think The Bungalow aims to take the individual and setting into account, giving guests enough time to mull over the options while trying to make sure they do still feel attended to. This is often the most difficult balance to achieve and maintain- you want to be able to enjoy a meal AND get the service you want when you need it.
I would recommend that you get a cab service to take to and from The Bungalow. It does naturally get quite full and apart from not being able to move from absolutely stuffing your face, you’ll be drunk without having even realized that you got that way. Those cocktails are sneaky and responsible drinking is always encouraged.
Situated in what has always been Cape Town’s luxury playground, The Bungalow is a great venue for those balmy summer evenings or when you just feel like taking in the beauty of the ocean in an upmarket atmosphere. Whether you are there to enjoy a cocktail with friends before the party, business lunches, a first date, a family dinner or even private function, you’re going to have a good time. Guests can expect exclusivity within a vibrant and youthful ambience, while experiencing true ocean-side dining in Cape Town.
For more information visit www.thebungalow.co.za or for bookings call 021 438 2018.