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Chicha!: The Pre-Drinks (Or Date Night) Spot That’s Livening Up Sea Point
A “funky 70s spaceship wine bar meets contemporary tapas eatery”
This quaint, cosy wine and tapas bar is the extra flavour to the vibey, stretch of eateries and bars on Regent Road in Sea Point.
Chicha! – dubbed “a 70s spaceship funk wine bar meets a modern tapas eatery” by one in our team – is co-owned by the proprietors of neighbouring Sundoo (owned by Seelan Sundoo), serving Indian food, and Three Wise Monkeys (Ricky Simon), with bowls of ramen.
Chicha! is where you go for a bite and a glass of wine before heading out for the evening – and there’s a chance you’ll end up ditching your evening plans and stay right where you are.
Though essentially a bar – with a unique wine list, hand-picked and paired well with all the tapas – it’s the food that draws people in, says chef and co-owner Julian Gabriel. “The tapas style and delicate flavours enable you to try many of the dishes,” says Gabriel. Exemplified by Gabriel’s roasted aubergine with toasted walnuts and togarashi spice that will turn an aubergine hater into an appreciator.
IT’S LIKE EATING AT A FRIEND’S PLACE
“It’s also an intimate restaurant, which allows a more personal relationship between staff and customers,” says Gabriel.
Details of the sleek and modern interior attend to this very experience. With the marble floors and wooden panels around the bar and on the back wall you get a boat/spaceship-like cocoon, and the lights above the bar look a bit like hovering flying saucers. If you’re facing the wall, the mirror that extends all the way across lets you feel part of the action behind you.
Because of this cosiness, there’s always a buzz of chit-chat (the wine may also play a part), like being at a dinner party at a friend’s house.
At Chicha!, that friend is Gabriel, who regularly pops out of the kitchen to have a chat with his guests. He’s influenced by Australian celebrity chef John Torode and has worked in restaurants in London and around Cape Town. “At Chicha! I want to create a great atmosphere, showcase amazing local wines and food, at an affordable price,” says Gabriel.
PLENTY OF WINE BY THE GLASS
Look out for the funky wine rack that holds over 100 bottles. The bar stocks around 60 different wines, of which more than 80% are offered per glass because they use a Coravin; a device that gently pierces the cork instead of removing it, and then the cork reseals when the needle is removed.
Gabriel says the menu is specifically designed to balance the wines and their different complexities, and staff is trained to recommend one or two wines that pair well with each dish. “Bouchard Finlayson, Beaumont, Chamonix and Gabrielskloof wine farms are among the most popular. But other wine farms, which include Thorn and Daughters’ Copper Pot and Illimis Chenin Blanc, are making their mark,” says Gabriel.
FROM AUBERGINE TO FILLET
Chicha! is a fusion of worldly flavours, and the tapas are all unique. Gabriel has recently drawn up a new menu, as he says new menus should always be seasonal. “It also keeps my mind active and keeps my chefs on their toes. I want to keep Chicha! on trend, but also keep the menu favourites,” he says.
His favourite is a classic dish that is perfect for winter – confit duck leg cassoulet with dhania lamb sausage (as a Capetonian twist to replace the Toulouse sausage). The chef’s most unique dish is the Cape Malay-style chicken and prawn ravioli with almond and sultana butter.
Our favourite dishes were the Patagonian squid in chimichurri sauce and the IPA-marinated fillet (which is so tender, it’s like cutting through butter).
If you’ve never been a fan of aubergine, Gabriel’s roasted aubergine with toasted walnuts and togarashi spice is guaranteed to change your mind.
By Daryn Wood
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