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Char’d Grill: A bucket-list steakhouse experience for all foodies (vegetarians too)
This is not a stiff steakhouse, but a sumptuous and sensory experience
For its edgy steampunk veneer, Char’d Grill & Wine Bar menu is a surprisingly refined steakhouse. Its menu is a broad selection of wet or dry-aged meat cuts served with sophisticated side dishes such as truffle oil-infused polenta mash, farm-to-table garden salads and burnt-corn risotto. And despite its rebellious undertone, the plating of each dish is done with elegance and delicate detail.
Char’d Grill is not just a meat-lover’s paradise, it’s a memorable culinary experience period.
GET TO CHOOSE FROM UNUSUAL CUTS OF MEAT
Char’d Grill’s dry-ageing glass room, filled from floor to ceiling with artisanal cuts of meat, is arresting, a reflection of the attention to detail and thought that goes into preparing each cut. Matured for up to 90 days, the locally sourced beef is preserved by controlled temperature and slabs of Himalayan sea-salt dividers.
CHOOSING YOUR CUT IS A CEREMONY
When you’re ready to place your order, a waitron comes to the table with a tray full of traditional dry-aged beef cuts, like rump and T-bone steak as well as lesser-known cuts. The spider steak, taken from the cow’s muscular and spiderweb-like marbled hip; bavette, from the lower chest or abdominal muscles; and the beef brisket, for example. These are often-overlooked pieces with a unique flavour profile that can’t be found at conventional grocery stores or restaurants.
“With an on-site butchery, we follow the artisan butcher’s modern approach of utilising and serving as much of the carcass as possible. When we bring the various cuts of meat to your table, we also tell you what breed of cattle you will be enjoying, as some of the breeds, like Sussex, have a unique flavour profile,” says owner Petri Hendriksz.
OTHER POPULAR MENU ITEMS
Besides steak, juicy, flavourful, tender (whichever Char’d cut you’ve selected), the most frequently requested dishes are sous vide chipotle pork belly ribs, roasted bone marrow and snails, truffle mac-and-cheese, and loaded fries. The restaurant’s burgers, made with mince from its onsite butchery, have gained a cult-like following, by the looks of the impressive reviews on Tripadvisor and Google.
The must-try, trendy burgers, says Petri, are the Cheese Fondue Burger (topped with fries, beef trimmings and cheese sauce), the Cyril Burger, named after President Cyril Ramaphosa (topped with cheesy jalapeno popper and sweet oriental syrup), and the Mash & Gravy Burger (truffle pomme puree, a rich jus, and fine fried onions).
ORDER HOUSE FAVOURITES (MANY VEGETARIAN DISHES)
A steakhouse may not be the first choice for vegetarians and vegans, but Char’d Grill is the exception. The moreish, lightly char’d and smokey potato rosti patty burgers are house favourites, and the restaurant is known for its fresh and seasonal salads. There’s also a range of vegetarian comfort foods, such as truffle-infused polenta and creamy mac-and-cheese.
For more options, request the menu from sister restaurant Pear Tree, with plant-based plates such as the cornflake mock-chicken burger, burnt cauliflower bowl, and gluten-free falafel tacos.
TAKE A PICTURE AT THE STEAMPUNK CHAR’D GRILL
This restaurant is a looker. There are snap-worthy elements at every turn (it’s likely Petri also had the social media savvy in mind when designing the steakhouse’s look and feel).
The decor is inspired by steampunk, a retro-futuristic subgenre of science fiction that incorporates technology and designs inspired by 19th-century industrial, steam-powered machinery. In keeping with the Victorian science fantasy theme, you’ll see tiny analog clocks, compasses and brass thermometers mounted on the wooden beams that frame the bar area.
There’s also an intricate contraption next to the bar that’s used to provide scents and tasters of numerous gins to customers, mirrors that look like cogs, bar chairs made of the metal of an old tractor, industrial light fittings, and waitrons wearing top hats with goggles and handmade leather aprons.
SQUEEZE AN ATOMISER TO CHOOSE YOUR FAVE GIN
Petri has put much thought into designing a sensory experience that stimulates sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, such as the spirit atomiser gin installation.
Squeeze the balloon-like atomisers, which are part of a contraption that looks like it came out of a mad scientist’s laboratory, and these release the botanical fragrance of locally-crafted gins (also non-alcoholic ones). Taste and select your favourite, and decide how you want it mixed, simply with tonic, mixed into a colourful gin-tail, or a refreshing non-alcoholic mocktail.
“Our Gin Bar has become a popular outing for all. And with our liquor store, where we specialise in selling alcohol from smaller boutique distilleries, we are offering tasting trays with the option of purchasing the product and taking it home,” says Petri.
There’s also an extensive wine list to choose from (52 local and regional wines). The corkage fee is R55, so feel free to bring a bottle from your private collection.
SIT INSIDE WITH TEDDY BEARS OR OUTSIDE
These days, standard restaurant etiquette includes mandatory temperature checks, sign-ins, mask-wearing, sanitisation and social distancing between tables. Char’d Grill Covid-19 protocols and safety precautions are more whimsical, giant teddies to ensure human diners keep the correct distance. The bears are each named after the restaurant’s staff members.
The indoor seating, with the bears, is made up of booths with cushioning, and stand alone 4-seater tables that can be adjoined for larger groups. Or sit outside on the rustic, wooden, dining benches, without the bears, to take in the sun and sea. Because that is one other thing that Char’d Grill has up its sleeve – it’s right in the centre of Hermanus, a few steps from where whales visit annually.
FIND OUT MORE THINGS TO DO IN HERMANUS
Planning a day trip to Hermanus? Discover the best restaurant in this coastal town.
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