Worth its salt
“At sea a fellow comes out. Salt water is like wine, in that respect” – Herman Melville
One of my favourite dining spots in Cape Town is without a doubt the Salt Restaurant, on the coast in Bantry Bay. It’s expensive; so you know there shouldn’t be any, you know, slip-slop riff-raff. To be elitist, pour un moment. It’s got swank but not too much. And it’s in such a romantic setting that people dining in the restaurant keep to themselves. Which is great, because I don’t go out to eat at a restaurant to have Suzy and her work colleagues eavesdropping on my private banter. Yip, when you go to Salt, it’s quite ok to leave the cynicism at home.
We arrived one Monday evening with a birthday to celebrate and Champagne on the mind. We had no booking – a bad idea at Salt since it’s so popular. But the Manager pulled strings and set us up with a table for two near the floor-to-ceiling windows. Set high up on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Salt has a most perfect view. That whiff of the fresh sea air that drifted in through the open window on a summery Winter’s day in the Cape is one to bottle; it could make blind men see. Well, slight exaggeration… but you get the drift.
If you’re going to visit Salt, you must do so with someone who knows something about dining. Otherwise you just lose out on the magic. Someone who knows that wooded wine doesn’t mean wine made from a tree. Who knows that when the waitress places a napkin on your lap she is not making a move on you. Who pulls your chair out for you if you’re female and ignores the cellphone for the night – unless it’s your birthday. Luckily, my partner was as good as they come.
We clinked flutes of Veuve Cliquot (crisp and delicate, well balanced and elegant, dry finish) in birthday celebration and snacked tapas that included marinated olives and spicy potato samoosas with tomato chutney. It was just right, as Goldilocks said.
Somewhere in the dimly lit restaurant and by the bar were other cufflinked and heeled diners, hand to wine glass, wine glass to mouth, chattering away with each other, also in worlds of their own; but I only realised that when walking past them to leave.
Salt is great for just drinks and snacks but also for three course meals. Try their Winter Special, which is currently running. When ordering any 2 three course meals from our Winter Special Menu (lunch or dinner) they will give you a voucher to redeem on your next visit to Salt. This voucher will entitle you to receive a complimentary bottle of Hartenberg Weisser Riesling or Cabernet/Shiraz blend. This special is valid until 31st August 2011.
On their Winter Menu are starters like butternut veloute with butternut ravioli; mains like lamb gnocchi with baby tomatoes, parmesan and a salsa verdi or chicken breast with vanilla infused carrot puree, confit potato and jus gras; and desserts like lemon tart with almond biscuit crust and confit lemon and pudding with whiskey anglaise and chocolate ice cream.
Rhino Africa visited Salt many years ago and penned this about it, and while much might have changed in decor and staff, the feeling and food is still as great, if not better.
Salt forms part of the Ambassador Hotel. Standing in the restaurant car park looking down on it below – the blue blue pool, the blue blue ocean, the blue blue sky at day – makes it hard to not just hand over the credit card after a night out and pull in for a stay. Preferably with one of the cufflinked gentlemen…
It’s centrally located in Bantry Bay on the Atlantic coastline, surrounded by areas such as the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Clifton and Camps Bay, and within close proximity to Cape Point and the botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch.
For a list of other Bantry Bay hotels, click here.
Salt Restaurant & The Ambassador Hotel
34 Victoria Road
Tel: +27 21 439 7258
Breakfast: 06h30 – 10h30 * Bookings essential
Lunch: 12h30 – 14h30
Dinner: 18h00 – 22h00