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Tobago’s Restaurant at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Cape Town
Seaside dining with five-star flair
When Grant Kennedy, Executive Chef of Tobago’s Restaurant at the Radisson Blu Waterfront, told me that he doesn’t believe in sourcing free-range food, I nearly choked on the meal I hadn’t yet ordered.
“I prefer to use meat from farms whose practices I know and I believe in. Our Chalmar Beef is raised in a stress-free feedlot designed for cattle comfort, so even though the animals go to the abattoir in the end, they live a good cow life and the meat is all the tastier and more tender for it,” he continues, miraculously turning the seemingly anti-free-range statement around just as I was considering feigning yellow fever for dinner.
Kennedy, who’s been in the industry for over 20 years and has travelled from the grasslands of Kenya to the dry dunes of the Namib following his calling, finally settled down at the Radisson’s seaside fine dining restaurant in 2011.
With a fine set of notches on his culinary belt - he’s worked under the tutelage of German and French chefs, been recruited by award-winning Irish chef Conrad Gallagher for the Sun City hotel group, and exchanged creative notions with celebrity chefs from BBC food - Kennedy has endowed the Tobago’s menu with his well-developed taste and his boyish charm.
Even out of his chef whites and dressed in a formal suit for his role as weekend duty manager, there’s not a pretentious bone in the man’s body, merely a personable, almost jolly (a rarity among the higher ranks of the kitchen) spirit.
A fact that seems to suit the restaurant just fine. Though Tobago’s is fine dining in one of the Waterfront’s esteemed five-star hotels, the atmosphere is relaxed and warm, not stuffy and overbearing.
True to its Caribbean-inspired namesake, the venue’s greatest asset is its striking view of the sparkling Atlantic. Diners can choose to take their meal on an expansive terrace during the warmer months, or can forego the al fresco option, and rather sit inside where floor to ceiling windows flaunt the vista almost as splendidly.
With sea breezes and salt air as much a part of the styling as the restaurant’s deep blue carpets and candlelight, the menu has been designed to reflect the same easy-going atmosphere conjured by the seaside dining.
The emphasis is on freshness, with fish that tastes of the ocean and produce that’s seasonal and, in some cases, home-grown.
When in Rome, my partner decides, and orders both starters and mains accordingly: to begin - marinated salmon pan-seared with wasabi foam and split soy vinaigrette, and second – seared tuna loin served with warm cucumber, sprout salad, toasted sesame and wasabi jello. I’m game for something a little more adventurous, the braised warthog ‘conchi’ for mains and the warm Tuscan artichokes with a citrus dressing to start.
Each dish arrives immaculately presented, and dressed with little flourishes of flair to send your sense of sight on the same journey as your palette. In particular, the scallops of wasabi jello are a science unto themselves, bending your notions of the green horseradish, yet aligning with the flavours of the fish perfectly.
After a delicious meal and some of the most convivial Cape Town service I’ve had to date – our waiter Shelley had a smile to rival the view – we decided no evening could be complete without a night cap at the Radisson’s famed Tobago’s cocktail bar.
Crisp autumn air aside, we resolve, we’re going to enjoy some serious mixology on one of the Mother City’s most lauded decks. Sweet melon margarita and Tanqueray mojito in hand we head outdoors to face the glowing silhouette of the V&A Waterfront, the Wheel of Excellence and the West Coast shoreline.
Sunset may have slipped by somewhere between starters and mains, but with the starry night overhead and the sound of the ebb and flow of the ocean in the background, Tobago’s is the perfect place for an evening out of the town.
Tip: If you can’t make it for dinner, schedule yourself for the world-class brunch buffet or a light lunch on the terrace deck. The view never changes!
The bill: Standard five-star prices; starters average around R60 and mains range from R70 to R150. Sharing platters for the deck menu hover around R150, and the brunch buffet is R165.
Opening Hours: Breakfast 06:30 - 10:30 (Daily); Lunch 12:30 - 15:00 (Daily); Dinner 18:30 - 22:30 (Daily)
Read more about an overnight at the Radisson Blu Waterfront