What's On Eatery

What's happening on Watson Street?

Please note: this establishment has been closed.

Cape Town has a lot of fantastic restaurants, but they often underestimate our locals, as well as the association of food with home, friends and family. Refreshingly, What's On Eatery feels just like a family home and a cosy extension of my own living room. There's a lot of soul in their food; just like your grandmother's cooking, and presented in a beautiful way.

“This homely and intimate space encourages our regulars to interact with each other, which is exactly what I intended,” says owner, Trevor Jordaan.

Trevor has worked in hospitality and cited new business opportunities on behalf of Woolworths, but his love of food and people lead him to open his first restaurant. He met chef, Kerin D'Offizi's fiancé, while buying candles for the restaurant at her shop. When she told Trevor about his work as head chef at the Harbour Edge Restaurant in Hermanus, and at the Food Lover's Market in Claremont, his gut reaction was to set up a meeting.

“We get on well and have similar ideas,” enthuses Trevor, “Kerin is also a lover of fine, rather than mass-produced, food.”

What's on the walls?

On this wintery evening, we are greeted by a smiling Trevor. He leads us past the deli and up a wooden staircase, which leads us to the main dining room. While he's not an interior designer, he certainly has an eye for warmth and comfort. Rich colours are worked into pastel greys; mirrors and soft fabrics accentuate the earthy tones of dark, wooden flooring; and beautiful modern art, by Hungarian painter, Jo Lukacs, hangs next to vintage furniture. Trevor chose elegant and usual wallpaper from Cornwall, UK, in classic colour, with modern, floral stencils.

At our candle-lit table for two, our waiter pulls out our chairs and lays napkins across our knees. He offers us a glass of bubbly and some warm bread; glazed with caramelized onions and served with a knob of butter. He knows the menu and the wine list like a seasoned actor knows his lines, and we're even paid the occasional visit by the owner himself.

What's on the menu?

“Our bistro-style menu has some South African influences, like tempura snoek, but the main focus is comfort dining,” explains Kerin, “For example, our signature dishes are beef wellington and slow braised, oxtail risotto.”

On our waiter's recommendation, I start with ceviche of seasonal line fish – juicy slivers of kingklip, served with a tangy salsa of fennel bulb and guacamole mousse, on a sesame wafer. My friend opts for stuffed calamari tubes with local feta, peppadew and beurre blanc. Rich buttery sauce gives way to tender calamari.

For our main course, I savour my medium rare, beef fillet, served with pommes purée, fresh, black truffle butter and red wine jus with a robust and fragrant glass of Groote Post's The Old Man's Blend 2010. My friend's Karoo lamb shank - slow braised for between three and three and half hours – is served with gratin potatoes and a mint-port jus..

Despite a filling main course, I decide to soldier on through dessert; and boy, is it worth it. As my fork pierces a beautifully presented, dark chocolate and hazelnut fondant, Belgian dark chocolate oozes onto the plate. Chased with homemade Amarula ice-cream, butterscotch sauce and a snip of chocolate cigar, this rich dessert is, for me, the most memorable of dishes.

You might expect to pay fine dining prices, but their two-course (R125) and their three-course (R150) specials are unbelievable value for money. The deli offers breakfast and lunch which include freshly baked breads and pastries, fresh salads and gourmet sandwiches. There’s also a private dining area, decked out in decadent mauve, it seats 12 people.

What’s On Eatery
6 Watson Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 5652

Opening times: 6:30am until 4pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, between 6:30am and 4pm, and between 6pm and 12am on Wednesdays and Fridays, and between 6pm and 12am on Saturdays.

By Lisa Nevitt

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