Restaurant review: Halaal fine dining in the heart of Cape Town
I love being introduced to different and new flavours, and although I’d stop short of calling myself a foodie there’s nothing I relish more than a taste explosion on my tongue after staring at an Instagram-worthy dish that meets all expectations.
Because I aspire to a certain dietary requirement, these experiences are often few and far between.
And when it comes to fine dining, finding a halaal-certified establishment is often like searching for a needle in a haystack in Cape Town.
One would expect the Mother City with its large Muslim community to have fully halaal or halaal-friendly restaurants in abundance. And when it comes to a certain type of dining, you want to spoil yourself for a special occasion like a wedding anniversary or a birthday.
Sometimes a family-friendly franchise or the takeaways on the corner just doesn’t cut it. You want the fancy decor and the silverwear, a waiter to ask if they can “top up your glass” and the shocked look on your face as they hand you the bill.
It’s an untapped market that few have ventured into, and yet it’s sorely needed.
But that’s all about to change after Hyatt Hotels took over the Hilton in Bo-Kaap. Now called the Hyatt Regency Cape Town, the first Hyatt-branded property in the Mother City, the hotel is “destined to be a hub for quality halaal dining within the community”.
And it’s for this very reason that I visited - to get a taste of Chef Keith Frisley’s new menu at 126 Cape Kitchen & Café.
At the soft launch of the restaurant, we were introduced to Indian-inspired dishes that Frisley had conceptualised. After spending decades in Joburg and the Four Seasons Westcliff, Frisley decided to make the move back to Cape Town.
He noted that the menus he’s developed for the Hyatt Regency are inspired by the home cooking of his childhood, a contemporary reimagining of traditional dishes remembered from the family meals he grew up with.
The Chef’s Table hosted in the Regency Lounge offered a smorgasbord of delectable flavours that Frisley had painstakingly put together to incorporate the bustling cultural epicentre of the Bo-Kaap.
On arrival we were treated to canapés of crayfish slaw and ostrich noodles.
Once seated, guests had a choice of either the Tandoor Fired Octopus or Tikka Chicken.
Octopus tends to be tough and rubbery if made incorrectly, but because it was prepared in a tandoor the tender pieces just melted in the mouth while the spicy flavours complemented the salty taste of the ocean.
For mains, I chose the Falafal Crusted Line Fish - an unusual combination - but somehow it worked. The crunchy texture of the falafal didn’t work to overpower the softness of the fish, instead resulting in a morishly flavourable combination.
Dessert was the highlight for me. Called Oh, My Figs!, the dish consisted of carrot halva, evaporated milk, pistachio and date fingers - a fitting ending to a deliciously beautiful evening.
If Chef Keith Frisley and Hyatt Regency can accomplish an all-round experience for patrons, I’m sure word will get around fast enough.
In the meantime, pop into the hotel for a quick bite or even a sit-down meal, and I guarantee that you’ll be back.
- Starters start at R120
- Mains at R180
- There are a variety of vegetarian and vegan options
- Visit ttps://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/south-africa/hyatt-regency-cape-town/cptrc for more info