Seelan Restaurant & Bar

Celebrated Mother City kitchen maestro opens a new Mediterranean eatery in the V&A Waterfront

Most people who travel extensively collect postcards; famed Cape restaurateur Seelan Sundoo squirrels away ideas. And with the opening of his new eponymous venture at the V&A Waterfront in mid-March 2014, he’s finally taken the opportunity to make good on his latest light bulb, a solo-owned Mediterranean-style grill and bistro.  

If the name and the face – he’s a bit of a silver fox – don’t ring a bell, perhaps the chef’s previous accomplishments will. He’s been the man behind the curtain at La Perla, the Grand Café & Beach, Shimmy Beach Club and even the now closed The Reserve Brasserie. And though he’s emphatic about the fact that he put his heart and soul into these popular hotspots, he’s also excited about throwing off the yoke and taking the reins with Seelan Restaurant & Bar.

“Whatever restaurant I opened, I always put my sweat and blood into it,” he explains. “Now it’s time to do something on my own.”

The new eatery draws on languid lunches taken in the South of France and unforgettable meals shared with mates in another of his favourite places, Barcelona. In particular, the seaside dining spot looks to recreate the joie de vivre (joy of life) that Seelan remembers so well about popular Saint-Tropez restaurant Le Grand Joseph.

“We used to grab a table there, chat and sit for hours just watching the world go by,” he reminisces.

Accordingly, his new establishment is relaxed and decidedly unpretentious despite the white tablecloths and chic marble outdoor tabletops. Plus, as it’s situated in a remarkably nonchalant corner of the V&A Waterfront, visitors can watch the hustle and bustle of the port go by just a seal’s clap from the water’s edge without feeling swept up by the quays’ normal milieu.

“When I go overseas, I always eat where the locals eat: you get good value for money, good food, consistency and excellent service - you feel at home,” he adds. “That’s what I want to do here: create a destination spot that’s also a home for locals.”

In that vein, loyal followers can expect many of the distinguishing elements from his previous projects: regulars at La Perla will recognize the white-coated waiters, bar flies from the Grand will find comfort in the stylish wicker furniture and Shimmy devotees can count on a classy cocktail list and world-class view (it’s Table Mountain in all her glory).

Similarly, Seelan’s cobbled together a ‘best of’ menu of sort comprised of many of his signature dishes, like the Kingklip Tagliata, Pasta Vongole, Chopped Seelan Salad and Carpaccio De Thon (tuna carpaccio). Apart from the old favourites though, there’s also a few innovative creations. Slow-cooked rotisserie duck, chicken and lamb (all done with a twist) are among the most popular original dishes, as is Zwelet’s Duck Rice, an oven-bake jam-packed with shredded rotisserie duck, basmati rice, ginger, chilli, fresh herbs, special duck stock and Mozambican spices.

Like the Italians, he values making fresh, simple sauces. And having watched his mother whip up exotic concoctions in the kitchen from a time when he was only waist high, he knows a thing or two about flavour combinations.

Needless to say, whether you’re a fan of the French Riviera, the Amalfi Coast or the Costa del Sol, you’ll now find a taste of a Europe at the distinctly South African V&A thanks to Seelan.

Tip: Pop in between 5pm and 7pm from Monday to Wednesday and enjoy a two-for-one happy hour and a complimentary aperitivo (small, free appetiser).

The Bill: Expect typical V&A Waterfront prices. Starters will set you back about R80, mains ring in between R110 and R185 (the seafood’s a bit more expensive), pastas average around R90 and desserts go from R30 to R70. Cocktails start at R45.

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:30am – 11:30pm

Shop 8 | Quay 5 | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 421 4906 | reservations@seelan.co.za

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Enjoy authentic South-Indian flavours at Sundoo in Sea Point. It’s a good place for a business lunch or to get together for dinner.

Indulge in fine Macanese cuisine and cocktails at Macau bar and restaurant in Cape Town.

Keen to find out about another of Seelan's ventures? Read more about the Grand Café & Beach.

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