Rick's Café Américain

Rick’s – a Cape Town classic

Mon - Sat | 11:00 till late
 
+27 (0)21 424 1100
2 Park Road | Gardens
www.rickscafe.co.za
info@rickscafe.co.za
RicksCafeCT
Rick's Cafe' Americain
Rickscapetown

Rick’s – a Cape Town classic

"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"

If you’ve ever seen the 1940’s classic Casablanca you’ve probably fantasised about starring in your very own Moroccan-based love affair that plays out in an iconic gin joint, or you’ve dreamt of sipping something on the rocks while a Sam-like character tinkles ‘As Time Goes By’ on the piano.

Even if you haven’t seen the flick, you’ve likely had a hankering for that one go-to spot where you can score your favourite drink, feast on your favourite food and return over and over again like it’s a second home. We’re talking about somewhere that’s a proverbial safe haven for work-weary locals.  

Enter Per Menkö, the owner of the Mother City’s very own Rick’s Café Américain, and though he’s not Humphrey Bogart or Rick Blaine himself, the seasoned chef has afforded Capetonians and out-of-towners their own Casablanca experience on Park Road just off Kloof Street.

On the night my partner and I visit this popular institution, it’s a characteristically cold winter evening, with the wind swirling and wailing loudly through the trees. All of that somehow disappears as soon as we step through the doors of the restaurant and get struck with a warmth permeating from the three open fireplaces. There is an excited energy and the jovial hum of diners and drinkers filling the dark-wooded room around us.

“It’s my favourite movie,” Per says when I ask about the eatery’s inspiration. “The script was voted the best in the 20th century and it’s got it all – revenge, love, drama.” He adds that he chose the motif because he spent a few months travelling around Morocco in a VW van during the 70’s.

The eatery is housed in a 100-year-old converted Victorian building and basically transports those who enter to a North African oasis complete with ornamental lanterns hanging from above and different coloured hookahs lining the extremely impressive bar. Naturally, there’s a TV screening the black-and-white Ingrid Bergman and Bogart film in case anyone didn’t quite catch the Casablanca reference.

The deceptively large space has many different nooks and dens for diners to hide away in, and I imagine that during the warmer months its rooftop bar is simply abuzz with sun-soakers and colourful cocktail drinkers.

The joint is among one of the top drinking spots in Cape Town, both because of the vibrant, happy atmosphere and the fact that there are more roughly 600 beverage options – from wines, whiskies and apéritifs to brandies, beers and cocktails – to suit every drinker on any budget. As Per proudly notes, you can get a R44, but you can also get a single shot of the pricey tequila for up to R225 during happy hour from 3pm to 7pm.  Speaking of tequila, Rick's boasts more than 30 different varieties.

While I decide to go for a local Shiraz, my American dining companion, who spends several mesmerised minutes looking at the multi-page drinks menu, is happy to find a whisky from the States that he’s been missing since coming to South Africa.

Once the matter of what to drink is finally out of the way, we turn our attention and our stomachs to the food menu, which is surprisingly diverse – it has dishes to seemingly suit any occasion. A quick survey of the eatery reveals a table of girlfriends on a catch-up dinner date, each of whom orders a different kind of burger (including ostrich and veggie), and a large group of twenty-somethings nearby sharing several plates of tapas, with morsels like olives, calamari and beef carpaccio being passed around. My companion and I decide that, in keeping with the Moroccan spirit of the restaurant and to warm up from the inside, we’ll try the famous Rick’s tagines. My partner pairs his beloved whisky with a fragrant and rich lamb tagine with dried apricots, almonds and walnuts, while I opt for the Spanish-influenced seafood stew, which is generously populated with mussels, linefish, calamari and prawns.

The eclectic menu is curated and designed by Per himself, and with cooking experience from all over the world, including a stint as executive chef at the Victoria & Alfred Hotel and time at the Mount Nelson, the Bavarian-born entrepreneur could have gone for fancier, fine dining type of fare for Rick’s. But the truth is, he preferred to design an accessible, uncomplicated menu with honest, good food for Capetonians to enjoy. Plus, he adds, “I’m a hands-on guy and I enjoy being in the front. The main thing is that people want to come back and bring their friends for sundowners, for entertainment or for lunch.” It’s all very Rick Blaine isn’t it?

There is no more room for eating and drinking, and we’ve stretched out the evening for as long as it can go, so it’s time to say a fond farewell (for now) to Rick’s. Out in the reality of the rainy street I’m already fantasising about the next time I come here and I’m thinking that, just like an old favourite movie, a visit to Rick’s Café Américain is both a comfort and a pleasure.

Tip: Not many people know about Rick’s upper deck, which is an excellent spot for sundowners in the summertime thanks to the stunning view of Table Mountain. Also, Rick’s has free Wi-fi!
The Bill: Prices are reasonable – tapas range from R58 for fish cakes to R105 for smoked crocodile (exception: a platter costs R165), while mains range from R89 for a falafel pita to R215 for a seafood tajine (exception: a 300-g fillet steak with veggies and a starch costs R245). As mentioned, there really is a wide variety of drinks to suit all kinds of pockets.

---

Follow @RicksCafeCT for the weekly R69 lunch specials on offer at the eatery, or if it’s drinks you’re after, read more about the happy hour special.

---

Use our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and if you have a smartphone, add m.capetownmagazine.com to your home screen for quick access on the go!

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle, connect with us on LinkedIn, check out our photos on Instagram and follow our Pinterest boards for updates on what’s happening in and around the Mother City!

Cape Town Events Calendar
August 2017
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Burger Cafe Caprice Cape Town Camps BayBelly Busting Burger Specials at Café Caprice

Camps Bay’s darling dishes up a duo of patties for the price of one every Tuesday and Thursday

Forex Foreign Exchange Beer Pong ObservatoryBeer Pong Night at The Forex Bar

Give this fun-filled drinking game a go every Thursday night in Observatory

Der F Hollander - 6Der Fliegende Holländer Docks in Cape Town for Four Nights Only

Matthew Wild’s new production, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, is all set to make waves this August!

King Kong - 4The Legendary SA Musical, King Kong, is Back!

Celebrate the comeback of this historic musical! Watch VIDEO footage of the original King Kong Musical

De GrendelWinter Lunch Special at De Grendel Restaurant

Warm up your tummy this winter with dishes by local chef Ian Bergh!

ByblosA sweet deal on Turkish appetizers every Thursday at Byblos

Get a three-for-two deal on any authentic Turkish appetizers every Thursday!

Pole Dancing Cape Town - 1Pole Dance Workshops with Tracey Simmonds

Get started on that summer body with help from an internationally respected pole dancer!

Most Meaningful Tea - 2Things to Do on Women's Day in Cape Town

Celebrate and commemorate all the fearless women in your life with our pick of fabulous things to do in the Mother City!

Pinocchio - 1Pinocchio at The Playhouse Theatre in Somerset West

Enjoy this fairy-tale classic with a twist!

Majozi - 2Majozi Live at Cafe Roux

Let this local legend inject some fun into your week!

We Cannot Be Silent Exhibition launch 2017Exhibition: We Cannot Be Silent at the Castle of Good Hope

A dynamic multimedia exhibition seeks to challenge ideas around gender violence in Cape Town. We Cannot Be Silent – it’s time to take action.

Open Design Festival 2017 3Open Design Festival Cape Town

Discover how design can transform lives at this creative fiesta’s line-up of parties, talks, exhibitions, pop-up shops and more

Mystery of Irma Vep - 6The Mystery of Irma Vep

A pop-culture spoof of two of the most loved series on TV!

MAReSOLMAReSOL’s Mouth-Watering Winter Menu

This authentically Portuguese restaurant brings the heat this winter

hint-hunt-murder-mystery-1Corporate Team Building with HintHunt

Get the staff bonding with this exhilarating live group escape game in Cape Town

GONOW Bike Double 07Get a huge discount on GONOW electric bicycle rentals every Thursday!

Be blown away by the sunset over the Atlantic Seaboard from an electric two-wheeler at half the price!

AquilaOvernight Safari at Aquila Game Reserve

Enjoy the outdoors with this Aquila Game Reserve special offer

parkhouseWinter Savings at The Parkhouse Hotel

Enjoy the best winter comforts at the fraction of the cost

De Grendel Wine Farm WineWine Tasting at De Grendel in Durbanville

Enjoy a serene sampling experience in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs

Hout Bay Dental Studio 2016 1Teeth Whitening Special at Hout Bay Dental Studio

Brighten the midweek with a superb Thursday dental deal

Kaapse Stories at The Rockwell Theatre“Kaapse Stories” at The Rockwell Dinner Theatre

Supper and Stage make for a delectable evening’s entertainment

Villains Ale House Logo 2DJ nights at Villain’s Ale House

Kick start your weekend with DJ nights every Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Glowing Rooms 3Glowing Rooms SA offers a special opening price!

Pay a special rate for entrance into SA’s first 3D space-themed glow-in-the-dark mini-golf adventure

Orphanage-cocktail-emporium-winesCocktails and Dancing at Orphanage Cocktail Emporium

Make Thursdays memorable with deep house and drinks at Cape Town’s favourite speakeasy

Avontuur Wine and Macaron PairingSpecialist Tastings at Avontuur Wine Estate

Spice up your winery experience with one of these delectable monthly pairings

Manga Logo2-for-1 Tapas Special at Manga Restaurant

Buy one portion of tapas and get another free at this seaside spot on Thursdays

Hout Bay Dental Studio 2016 3Professional Teeth Cleaning Special at Hout Bay Dental Studio

Spruce up your pearly whites with this 20% discount for CapeTownMagazine.com readers

Vista Parties Ocean Adventurer 3Vista Parties Ocean Adventurer Birthday Party Package

Celebrate your child’s special day out to sea with this Atlantic Seaboard sailing bash

kids birthday party venue idea at waterworld strandWaterworld Strand Water Park’s Free Putt-Putt Special

False Bay’s finest family fun zone is offering a complimentary game of mini golf to birthday party bookings

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

Curious to make exciting discoveries in Cape Town every day? "LIKE" us for a daily hidden gem.