Bodyboard down the Oliphants, sleep in a bedouin tent, hike a pristine trail
Harveys Restaurant at Winchester Mansions
South Beach meets Sea Point
It’s a sunny day in Sea Point and we’re on our way to Winchester Mansions, a luxury hotel just across the road from the promenade. The original Cape Dutch architecture has been kept intact and updated with an elegant, beautifully designed interior.
Winchester Mansions is much more than just a hotel. Harveys includes an open air courtyard, a bar, restaurant and deli as well as sea-facing terraces. The courtyard is at the centre of the hotel, and has palm trees and rambling vines around a central fountain; giving it a colonial Cuban feel. (It’s known for its weekly Sunday jazz brunches.)
The bar is a plush affair, with twinkling lights inside and comfortable couches arranged in several semi-private areas, this opens out onto the balcony with sea views - the perfect spot for sundowners. The bar has its own reasonably priced menu; the flammkuchen is particularly popular – a European flat bread topped with sour cream, onions and bacon.
The attention to detail and strong design elements are carried through to the newly renovated restaurant with its South Beach influence. Cream stairs and glass doors lead through to a light, airy space. There is a laid-back beach feel, complemented by the sea views, which still manages to retain the elegance of Winchester Mansions. The tables are set with a single pincushion protea adding a splash of local colour to the neutrals of the décor. The chair backs are delicately embroidered with subtle gold tree branches.
Our waitress is appropriately named Happiness, and she lives up to her name. We decide to share a melon, feta and coriander salad as well as a kingklip and prawn skewer for lunch. Small details can easily be overlooked, but not at Harvey’s – the bread that is brought to the table is baked in the restaurant and is crusty and delicious. The creamy feta in the melon salad completes this summery dish – a perfect lunch on a hot day. The kingklip and prawns are firm and juicy and are served with roasted veggies and couscous.
We finish off our lunch with cappuccinos and a chocolate fondant. The little cake reveals a chocolaty molten centre which combines perfectly with the vanilla ice cream. It’s the kind of dessert that I’ll think back to wistfully whenever I get a chocolate craving.
The beauty of Harveys having so many different elements and spaces is that if you wanted to eat dinner next to the fountain in the courtyard then you can. This also makes the bar a great spot to stop by for an after work drink and if it turns into a couple then you can order one of their bar snacks or ask for the full restaurant menu.
Dinners are an equally relaxed occasion with a fusion of flavours inspired by the proximity of the sea and by local game. Originally from Germany, executive chef Jochen Riedel has brought his own twist to the menu while still making use of local ingredients and traditional flavours. I tried the winter trio – a starter with three elements, beef ravioli on red cabbage, a chilli con carne spring roll and bobotie – an international take on traditional South African food. The sea views, elegant interior and delicious food make this restaurant a Cape Town favourite.