You may know the French-style Coco Safar cafe as a coffee place and patisserie bar. There are many layers to the flagship store in Sea Point. I recently visited for a cocktail and tapas tasting session on a Friday afternoon and it's now my favourite place for after-work sundowners.

The highlight of my visit was meeting the brand's head beverage curator, Marshall Siavash, who has worked on a retro cocktail menu. Supplied picture.

Their new winter menu is a cosmopolitan take on the traditional Spanish-originated tapas food phenomenon, but in true Coco Safar style, it has an international epicurean flair. 

Taking inspiration from France, the Mediterranean and Asia, the menu was conceptualised by Coco Safar's well-travelled culinary team headed by executive chef Carmen Rueda. 

Rueda spearheaded the experimental kitchen for British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal (who founded the Fat Duck), held an executive chef position at what is considered in culinary circles the "world's finest restaurant" – el Bulli - a Michelin 3-star run for many years by chef Ferran Adria in Spain, and an executive chef position at 2am Dessert Bar in Singapore, by Asia's top pastry chef Janice Wong. 

Marshall Siavash, who has worked on a retro cocktail menu that includes my current favourite drink: the classic French 75 made from gin, Champagne and lemon juice, as well as the whisky cocktail. With a track record like that, any new culinary offering coming out of the Coco Safar innovation hub kitchen is sure to stir the senses. 


The whisky cocktail has a delicious kick. Supplied picture.

The highlight of my visit was meeting the brand's head beverage curator, Marshall Siavash, who has worked on a retro cocktail menu that includes my current favourite drink: the classic French 75 made from gin, Champagne and lemon juice, as well as the whisky cocktail. Marshall took us on a private tour of the distillery. 

Watching him work is a treat. His CV is illustrious: he used to head up the bar at The House of Machines, held a head bartender position at Outrage of Modesty, as well as Cause Effect (when it was selected as one of the top five bars in the world), before joining Coco Safar's international team. 

The new Back to Classic cocktail menu is designed to perfectly compliment the new Tapas Sharing Experience, and offers treasured cocktail classics from the style capitals of the world, such as the much-loved whisky-based Old Fashioned, the classic Gin Fizz, and the 100-year-old Negroni. 

The new Tapas Sharing Experience offers plate options to satisfy all palettes and dietary requirements, with a choice of an eight-course tapas menu for two to share, or for the less hungry a four-course tapas menu for two. 

It features dishes like smoked brisket ravioli in vegetable broth with chives, grilled aubergine on rosemary sweet potato mash, shimeij mushrooms and miso-honey glaze, and herb crust sea-bass with grilled pakchoi, lemon-herb cream cheese and fish broth, to name a few. 

With room for dessert, Coco Safar offers decadent Parisian-style desserts, which can be hand-picked from their patisserie counter while they linger over a cup of world-class coffee. Visit with a group of friends for a leisurely afternoon session of cocktails paired with delicious food, and enjoy the cafe's Persian influence chic decor. 

The by-reservation-only dinner menu will be available at the Coco Safar Sea Point flagship cafe at an introductory winter offer of R695 for the eight-course menu (for two people sharing), and R360 for the four-course menu (for two people sharing). 

● Booking is essential, no walk-ins allowed for the Tapas Sharing Experience, which is offered Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm. ● For more information, visit /www.cocosafar.com or call 021 433 0490 for reservations.