Taste 7 unique dishes (+ a surprise) at Taj Cape Town’s signature eatery
Liam Tomlin’s Mazza and market gives Heritage Square fresh boost
Vegetarians will be in heaven, plus you can stock up on goods at Local market
Well-known chef Liam Tomlin has breathed new life into Heritage Square at the top of Shortmarket Street, in Cape Town’s CBD, by creating a market called Local. There’s also a 55-seater Middle Eastern restaurant, Mazza, which means “to share”.
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As you enter the building, on the left is Caffe Milano, where you can stop for coffee, croissants and cannoncini, tiny fingers of crispy fried pastry filled with custard – heaven in four little mouthfuls.
STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY
From there, continue into Local, a stylish market and deli filled with stalls selling fresh flowers, recipe books, produce, homeware, pantry items, fruit juices, ice cream, cheese and charcuterie, beer on tap, and wine by the bottle or glass.
La Cantina, with its open kitchen, serves simple, wholesome Italian fare. Place your orders at the counters then head outside to the courtyard where the food will be brought to you.
MOVE INTO MAZZA TO SHARE LIGHT PLATES
Mazza, upstairs, is a space drenched in natural light thanks to a glass skylight. It’s a venue that provides an immersive grazing experience. Begin with something light and easy to nibble, move on with a couple of share plates, then finish with an ice cream or exquisite fine chocolates from Alexander Avery.
A great pleasure is that afterwards you can fill a basket with goodies to take home. There are potted plants, flowers, and lots of produce from local artisans and producers on offer.
LIAM TOMLIN’S INSPIRATION IS BEIRUT
The brainchild of Liam Tomlin of Chef’s Warehouse fame (in Bree Street, at Beau Constantia, Maison in Franschhoek and Tintswalo in Hout Bay), Mazza is a tribute to Beirut in particular (Tomlin had planned to open a restaurant there, and there is an homage to the beleaguered Lebanese capital city in the form of a delicate mural which the waiter will explain) and the Middle East in general, with a menu reflecting the 17 countries of the region.
Seating runs the length of the upper level, with a bar counter overlooking the market below. Iridescent tiling adorns one wall, and the kitchen is open so you can watch food being prepared in a fog of delectable aromas.
VEGETARIANS WILL BE DELIGHTED (CARNIVORES, TOO)
For the omnivore, dishes include lamb, chicken and fish, with evocative descriptions (“braised lamb neck tagine, jewelled couscous”) to tempt and seduce. Richard Bosman’s (spotted lunching there himself) nduja, a spicy spreadable pork “sausage”, is outstanding with a lightly spiced aubergine stew. The baby octopus marinated in a tabil spice mixture is soft and tender, zinged into super sexiness with a generous squeeze of lemon.
For the vegetable lovers, however, this is a little slice of heaven. Taboon flatbread with hummus topped with crunchy chickpeas is a must-have. You will notice extra bread, hummus (and labneh) are available, and you will want more, especially the bread, which can be used to mop up the delicious sauces from various dishes. Like tomatoes done three ways - smoked, grilled, pickled - topped with grated aged goat’s cheese, pumpkin seeds and za’atar.
REDISCOVER THE CAULI
Anyone who has followed a low carb lifestyle will know the trials of the humble cauliflower and finding new ways to enjoy it. Here, it’s elevated once more to a lofty state: smoked and rubbed with bastourma (a spice paste of fenugreek, black pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, allspice and a few other secrets), with pistachios and yoghurt dressing. It’s presented in a bowl lined with translucent paper inscribed in Arabic – the attention to detail is meticulous and extends to plating on metallics and bright ceramics by Mervyn Gers.
PRICES ARE AFFORDABLE, TOO
Main courses for two are between R240 and R190, with sharing plates from R35 (R20 for flatbread), so you can easily tailor your meal to suit your appetite and your budget. Should you decide to practise a little restraint, you can reward yourself with a dessert of rose and vanilla meringue with apricots, almonds and clotted cream, or semolina, pistachio and orange-blossom cake. The wine list is small, with everything available by the glass or bottle. Non-alcoholic beverages, including Devil’s Peak Zero To Hero beer, are available.
WHERE TO FIND LOCAL AND MAZZA
Address: Heritage Square, 99 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town
Contact: +27 63 161 3484, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: Monday–Saturday, 8am-9pm
By Bianca Coleman
For more Middle-Eastern fare, try the flavours of Turkey at Eatstanbul.
Laim Tomlin has a few other celebrated restaurants in Cape Town. One of them is Chefs Warehouse restaurant with an incredible view in Beau Constantia.
Or there’s many other new restaurants and experiences to be discovered.
Explore the Chef’s Warehouse restaurants at Tinstwalo, Maison in Franschhoek and Beau Constantia.
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