Join the fun in the Cape Winelands in aid of children with disabilities
La Mer Restaurant & Grill and Cpoint Bar & Lounge in Sea Point
Savour five-star cuisine and premium cocktails on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard
Although La Mer Restaurant and Grill sits pretty inside the Radisson Blu Le Vendome Hotel, there’s nothing hotel-like about this stylish eatery. In other words, it goes well beyond the standard mandate of simply being there to fill the bellies of overnight guests, and instead is a real contender on the Sea Point culinary scene and a spot that locals should certainly put on their radar.
Formally opened in May 2015, the restaurant (its name means ‘the sea’ in French) rests within a building that was previously known as just Le Vendome until the international accommodation company swooped in, refurbished slightly and re-opened the Parisian boutique-style hotel to the world. Crucial to the new offering was the establishment of an eatery that could stand alone and distinguish itself from the pack.
And it does so in many ways. For starters, La Mer boasts an elegant atmosphere that has none of the clinical staleness of typical accommodation-based eateries. On the evening we visit, my partner and I are seated by an elaborate wine rack that extends across one wall and the dimmed lights make for quite an intimate space and ambience. The décor is sophisticated (hues of gentle greys and whites adorn the walls) and gives the venue all the class of a fine dining restaurant, but small bursts of colour here and there help to strip it of any pretention.
Then there’s also the exceptional fare. “We pay so much attention to our food, it’s almost unbelievable,” explains Executive Chef Craig Carmichael. And I see just what he means when our starters make their way to our table: the display of the food is really quite spectacular. To begin, my partner has chosen the Butternut and Parmesan Risotto with Shaved Brown Mushrooms and Mange Tout and I’ve selected the Smoked Salmon Trout served with Parmesan Crackling, Chive and Truffle Potato Salad and Lime Dust (it’s apparently a bestseller). The contents of my plate look so exceptional that, at first, I’m hesitant to dig in, but the moment I do, I don’t regret it, as a burst of smoky flavour meets my taste buds, leaving me so hungry for more of this deliciousness that I immediately open up the menu to see what I can have next.
The main course section features a variety of flavour profiles, including meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes. From options like Goat’s Cheese and Aubergine Ravioli and Hot Seared Salmon to Loin of Karoo Lamb and Pan-fried Line Fish, guests are spoilt for choice. I select the Honey and Lavender Roasted Duck Breast served with Fondant Potato, Bok Choi and Braised Baby Onions, while my partner opts for the Grilled Beef Fillet accompanied by Fondant Potato, Butternut Squash, Oxtail Ravioli and Wild Mushrooms, both of which are dishes that Craig takes particular pride in. And with good reason as my dish is an intriguing blend of satisfying tastes. The menu will also change from time to time as Craig uses his experience to come up with new innovative items – ensuring that La Mer’s offering stays fresh and exciting.
“We take criticism openly and are always happy to play around and try new things,” says Craig, who has an extensive and impressive track record in the food industry.
As we soak up the atmosphere and sip on glasses of refreshing Constantia Uitsig Chardonnay (the eatery boasts an extensive wine list, I might add), we decide that now is as good a time as any for some sweet afters. We order Strawberry Cheesecake (with cranberry tuile, mint and berry coulis) and a Baked Chocolate and Pistachio Cigar (with vanilla sabayon, vanilla pod ice cream and a brandy snap tuile) to take our taste buds on one final journey, which turns out to be a heavenly, sugary ride.
Cpoint. Bar & Lounge
But if we thought that was where our night would come to an end, we had another thing coming. The restaurant sits adjacent to the chic Cpoint. Bar & Lounge, and as we make our way past it to leave the property, we just can’t resist heading inside first to see what it’s all about. Also forming part of the Radisson Blu Le Vendome Hotel, the spot treats folk to dazzling cocktails and more laidback grub, like burgers and sandwiches, in a casual yet upmarket venue.
As our stomachs are already satisfied, we opt to just try out some after-dinner drinks at the snazzy venue. I choose the signature ‘Radisson Blu’, which comprises citrus vodka and peach schnapps shaken with Monin blue curacao, fresh lime and a splash of litchi juice and garnished with a triple citrus twist, and my partner selects a classic mojito. Both concoctions are prepared in front of our eyes by a friendly barman who explains his craft to us and also tells us more about the spot and the vibe it’s generally home to on different days and nights of the week.
With its brown, blue and white colour palette, the lounge exudes a sophisticated feel and is thus ideal for those seeking a tipple at a venue that has none of the grunginess often associated with pubs in Cape Town. The bar also hosts exclusive events, like whisky tastings and ladies’ nights – another reason why this is a notable haunt to visit from time to time.
As I finish off my punchy cocktail, I think about how both La Mer and Cpoint. offer much more than standard hotel eateries or bars are traditionally known for. Accordingly, they’re both now on my radar as two of the finer places to frequent in the suburb of Sea Point.
Note: In addition to the above venues, Radisson Blu Le Vendome Hotel is also home to the #add Restaurant & Pool, where patrons can enjoy breakfast or lunch by the pool, and sip on a range of delicious cocktails while they relax.
Tip: Since La Mer is an intimate venue that can only house 32 guests at a time, booking in advance is recommended. To keep up with events happening at Cpoint. Bar, visit the Facebook page.
The Bill: La Mer Restaurant & Grill offers good value for money. Starters range from R55 to R90, mains are priced between R75 and R195 and desserts ring in between R55 and R65 (and R145 for the individual cheese platter). Wines range from R35 to R80 per glass and from R120 to R1500 per bottle.
by Dudu Luthuli
Looking for a sweet treat in the neighbourhood? Then check out My Sugar Chocolate and Coffee Shop in Sea Point.
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