Taste 7 unique dishes (+ a surprise) at Taj Cape Town’s signature eatery
Café Caprice in Camps Bay
The easy, breezy oceanfront institution that’s so much more than just a summer Sunday sundowner spot
Where Santorini has Theros and Dubai has Barasti, Cape Town’s got Café Caprice. Since the dapper venue opened in 2001 just a seagull’s flap away from Camps Bay’s sandy shores, it has evolved into an icon of the Mother City’s social scene, with a reputation that’s sexy enough to position it right up there alongside other world-class international beach bars.
Foreign visitors tend to consider the laidback hangout as much of a Cape Town must-do as climbing Table Mountain or scouting out penguins at Boulders Beach, and locals know it for its sultry summer Sunday soirées, its magnetic effect on the in-crowd and its views of, what co-owner David Raad refers to as, “the most incredible sunsets in Africa”. But there are many other faces of Café Caprice that only its regulars are truly au fait with.
For starters, there’s the fact that behind the fashionable façade is an establishment with a whole lot of heart and soul. At the helm since the very beginning, David is the most dedicated and hands-on of MDs. Then, it’s worth noting that the bar isn’t just about summer fun and Sunday cocktails on the sidewalk. The all-day café is, in fact, open seven days a week, and recent refurbishments – the addition of wood tones, oak tables and additional inside seating – have not only warmed up the venue for winter, but have also created more space for leisurely dining and helped to establish the spot as a multi-faceted destination.
“The renovations were about defining Café Caprice as an everyday venue that combines a bar, lounge and restaurant, and people can come and enjoy whichever part appeals to them,” explains David.
In other words, yes, on particular days, you can visit for an evening of sipping and schmoozing with celebrities and socialites. But then you’re equally welcome to pop in for coffee and a hot breakfast after a morning cycle, swing by for a round of rugby watching on a Saturday afternoon (the café claims three television screens), call in to enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese or seafood platter in the lounge zone or schedule a date for lunch or dinner on any odd weekday.
One of the haunt’s biggest secrets has to be its fare.
The focus is on freshness and quality, and many of the fundamentals are handmade from scratch on-site, including the creamy hollandaise sauce for the eggs benedict, the chilli, garlic and rosemary marinade that drips off the flame-grilled Rib eye Espetada and the tender mince patties that anchor the restaurant’s renowned burgers. As far as the buns go, the Royal Burger (it’s topped with streaky bacon, cheddar cheese, chilli and beer-battered onion rings) and the Rump Prego roll (the spicy sauce is crafted from roasted red peppers, tomatoes, chilli and red wine) are the real winners, but rumour has it the flame-grilled beef Rib eye Espetada in a chilli, garlic and rosemary marinade and the home-roasted butternut and beetroot salad with cherry tomatoes, red onion, rocket, feta, roasted pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinegar reduction are culinary game-changers too.
Of course, if you’re not in the market for a bite, there’s nothing wrong with visiting for just a tipple or two at sunset. The friendly world-class bartenders are veritable masters of mixology; they use only fresh seasonal fruit for their citrusy concoctions and push themselves to keep coming up with imaginative infusions and original, premium cocktails that are delicious enough to garner international recognition in prestigious competitions. While the list of options on the menu could rival Long Street in length, stand-out signature creations include the Granadilla Lolly (a mix of Absolut Citron Vodka, fresh granadilla, lemon, pineapple and crushed ice that tastes like a tropical beach holiday), the Vineyard Spritzer (Tanqueray Gin shaken with Martini Bianco, green grapes, fresh basil and lime topped with soda water) and Camelia’s Flower (The Botanist Gin shaken with Martini Rosso, honey, fresh lime and green tea) as well as an extensive list of traditional concoctions (think Mojitos, Daiquiris and Margaritas and Martinis, to name a few).
The seaside haunt also boasts a comprehensive offering of internationally recognised ‘World Class’ (World Class is the largest and most prestigious mixology competition across the globe that seeks to elevate the craft of the bartender as well as to create compelling fine drinking experiences) cocktails. Must-try global concoctions include the El Topo (Don Julio Reposado with freshly juiced pineapple, lime and vanilla seeds shaken and served over rocks) and the Monsoon Tea Party (Ron Zacapa Centenario with Chai infused rooibos tea, fresh vanilla and figs shaken and served over rocks with a side of burnt orange).
Naturally, such moreish drinks make it even easier to sway to the deep house tunes and lounge-y grooves spun by resident and guest DJs on weekend nights. Though, ultimately, it’s the all-round experience at Café Caprice, not just the sundowners and after-dark vibe that makes it well worth putting this institution back on your radar if it happens to have fallen off or pencilling it in on your bucket list if you’ve never popped by before.
Tip:Keep an eye on the Camps Bay venue’s Facebook page and website to find out about the various events and happenings – such as Juniper Sunset Sessions and Boschendal Bottomless Brunch – taking place.
The Bill: Prices at Café Caprice reflect its prime location on Camps Bay’s seaside strip, but there are a few very affordable options on the menu. Brekkie is priced between R36 to R90 with beverages ranging R14 to R30. Sharing boards cost between R135 and R315, salads range from R56 to R110, café-style dishes (singles and doubles are available) sit between R40 and R150, burgers and sandwiches will set you back between R68 and R115 and desserts ring in at around R55 to R65. As for the bar’s famous cocktails, world class mixes ring in between R90 and R160, signature drinks cost around R50 to R110 and the classics range between R52 and R80.
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