Tasty tunes: where to dine while the band plays on

Cape Town boasts an array of delightful venues where you can savour a delicious meal and enjoy quality live music. Here’s a few ideas of where to go for a sublime experience.

We’re not talking pub food here. Nor are we talking raucous singalongs and jangling guitar solos. The venues mentioned here are all “listening” venues. The artists who play at these places are carefully selected as both popular and well suited to the intimate experience that these shows offer.

Café Roux is nestled in the Noordhoek Farm Village, very close to the easterly end of Chapmans Peak and a good hour’s drive from Cape Town’s city centre. While it’s hard to find fault with any of the venues mentioned below, Café Roux’s line up is absolutely second to none with regard to the high profile stars they regularly feature. The food is delicious and the atmosphere welcoming.

Not too far away, the rustic setting of The Cape Farmhouse has become a very popular spot for both music and food lovers. The farmhouse boasts a fantastic restaurant headed by the talented Phil Mansergh, and hosts a fortnightly music concert under the name Farmhouse Rocks. These Saturday afternoon concerts begin at 3pm, making it a great day out for the whole family.

The most centrally located is the delightful Alma Café, in the heart of the leafy suburb of Rosebank and a quick 10 minute drive from the city centre. Previously a suburban corner store, the Alma Café has been transformed into a warm, comfortable and intimate live music venue that serves delicious home-style meals. A somewhat unique feature of this family-run venue is that music is the absolute focus. To this end, food or drinks are served before the performance begins and respectful silence is requested while the music is played.

The most northerly of these restaurants is Die Boer (Afrikaans for “The Farmer”), located in the suburb of Durbanville, just under an hour’s drive from the city. Like Café Roux, Die Boer has a virtually non-stop music menu and very often features acts whose home language is, indeed, Afrikaans. It seats 120 people, all with an unobstructed view of the stage. Guests are offered an intimate, upmarket, yet affordable dinner-theatre experience.

And now for something completely different: The Crypt Jazz Restaurant is in the basement of the St George’s Anglican Cathedral itself — located in the heart of the city centre. Every week, from Tuesday to Saturday, The Crypt plays host to an amazing array of local and international jazz musicians to create an atmosphere that is quite unique. If you enjoy something different, not to mention special, try this.

Wine trends from fine dining in the Mother City

Cape Town fine dining restaurants are as famous for their superb wine offerings as they are for their great food. Local expert Abigail Donnelly, food critic and editor of the respected restaurant guide Eat Out, gives her take on wine trends in Cape Town’s fine dining sector:

From eating out and judging restaurants across the country I have noticed there is more attention to detail being shown when it comes to wine, and particularly more personality in the wine stewards. There’s also a really curious phenomenon of top wine stewards and sommeliers coming from Zimbabwe: it’s fascinating, seeing as there’s so little wine in Zimbabwe!

I’ve really enjoyed the wine experience at the new Rupert & Rothschild Estate out in Franschhoek. Gift, who is in charge of the wine section, is just amazing. They also do a tasting where they present six wines of the world, all Rupert & Rothschild branded, from France to South Africa to New Zealand. The Sauvignon Blanc they present is amazing, as is the Argentine Malbec. Head chef Carmen Muller also does small taster portions to go with the pairing.

I’ve also seen a couple of top restaurants offering wine flights with matching courses. Christo Deyzel, the sommelier at Camphors at Vergelegen, does a flight of Cabernet Sauvignon all served with beef dishes.