With music by Cyndi Lauper, several Tonys and a Laurence Olivier Award
Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point
Dine at the edge of the world
Every year thousands of tourists from all corners of the globe converge on Cape Point, the narrow finger of land that marks the most southwesterly tip on the African continent and the plane on which Africa's currents collide.
They pour through the riot of fynbos that carpets much of the 7750 hectares of reserve that make up the surrounding Cape of Good Hope section of the Table Mountain National Park, and they charge with gusto to summit Cape Point’s series of jagged cliffs and sheer rock faces to look out across a horizon so epic it seems to have neither start nor finish.
And then, once exhausted from the edge-of-the-world allure and the untouched natural beauty, they take up a ritual commonplace even among the ghostly pirates of past (many of the shipwrecked lot are said to still haunt the shores below): they break bread.
Since opening in December 1995, the Two Oceans Restaurant, Cape Point’s longstanding eatery, has reliably served the ravished – and often wind-whipped and rosy-cheeked – masses before and after their journey to the pinnacle of one of South Africa’s greatest natural wonders. But even after 16 years and 2.5 million customers (and counting), the establishment is still fresh-faced, full of life and – thanks to a July 2012 refurbishment – eager to take on the future.
These days, the Two Oceans’ darker, more austere, African-inspired look of old has been replaced with an airy, stylish interior that summons thoughts of salty beach days and elegant Mediterranean seaside living.
The décor now takes its cue from its surroundings, and even the menu – which has always had a large seafood focus – better reflects the wild coves and expansive seas that spread out in every direction.
A bright white, ribbed ceiling inspired by the belly of a whale undulates its way across the restaurant roof, a bespoke chandelier pieced together with hand-picked shells and coral dangles from above, sea-washed floors lay the foundations below and cool crème and aquamarine accents play across the place settings and furniture.
Still, though, the artfully designed new conversation pieces can do little to rival the legendary hero feature of the eatery: the breathtaking vista that unravels across the bay.
Thanks to an expansive deck that looks out onto the distant silhouette of shoreline, diners can almost become part of the picture-perfect postcard themselves: by taking their breakfast, lunch or dinner al fresco. Though, even if the weather’s poor, floor-to-ceiling windows afford those sitting indoors views nearly as impressive.
“We’ve also pared down the menu quite a bit,” says Head Chef Phil Aycock, a man whose sailor-like British accent and love for tattoos seem coincidentally appropriate here.
He goes on to explain that, thanks to the addition of an innovative sushi bar, the kitchen no longer has to shoulder so much pressure (the restaurant seats around 300 people), and can thus concentrate on mastering a smaller selection of dishes.
So, while he’s orchestrating the creation of popular Two Oceans’ favourites, such as the grilled ostrich burger with red currant and onion jam and the legendary seafood platter, expertly-trained Thai chef Sarawut Sukkowplang is reigning over both enormous sushi platters and inventive individual rolls – like the tempura prawn and shitake mushroom roll topped with tuna and salmon.
And as Phil pointedly insists, “the sushi is as fresh as it gets;” as is the large selection of shellfish and seafood on the menu: crayfish, tiger prawns, linefish and mussels. “We have such a high turnover here that we can’t help but have fresh produce. By the end of the day, everything’s gone.”
Though, even if you’re not in the mood for a meal seemingly plucked from the surrounding South African waters, there’s also plenty on the menu to suit other whims and palates. After all, on any given day Cape Point’s population demographic is diverse enough to give even the UN a run for its money.
“I have three kids, and I know what it’s like to go to a restaurant that doesn’t cater for children. That’s why I insisted on a kiddies menu. There’s also Halaal-friendly food and vegetarian options,”says Phil. “Here, we have a responsibility to have something for everyone, so that no one feels left out.”
A mantra that may not be fully Phil’s own, but that’s, nonetheless, proven more than successful for the nearly two decades that the restaurant has been in business.
So, whether you need to fill up prior to tackling Cape Point’s cliff-cut steps, or whether you’re looking to recharge after returning from the walk, you can look forward to a relaxed, but premium dining experience at the Two Oceans Restaurant.
By Stephanie Katz
Read more about what makes a day at Cape Point, one of South Africa’s most breathtaking natural attractions, so spectacular.