I was contacted by Grand Africa Café & Beach Brand General Manager Radley Dijkers to visit the restaurant, to see first hand how well it has recovered from the wild storm of 7 June, and to try its Winter Set Menu. My friend Fiamma Swainston and I, later joined by Llewellyn Lambert, enjoyed a special lunch on a sunny winter’s day. 

A positive step Radley informed me about before my arrival was that one does not have to pay for parking at Grand Africa during winter, a plus during a period in which Capetonians are very money-conscious. 

If one had not been to Grand Africa before, or visits infrequently, one would not have noticed anything untoward as a consequence of the wild storm. General Manager Rees Maxwell explained that the left hand side of the property will be rebuilt in summer, a section of the foundation having been torn away as a result of the storm. In a video taken after the storm, the building on the right hand side of the property appeared to have taken strain with the pounding waves, but the deck and building were in good shape. I had heard that some of the beach sand had been swept away, but again all seemed in order. The beach furniture has been moved in front of the restaurant building, having been more spread out across the full beach area in summer. This was the only difference I noticed. 

We sat on the deck, and I loved the red roses on the tables. Gauze serviettes are offered. Oryx salt and pepper grinders are on table. 

Our waiter Blessing introduced himself, and looked after us excellently throughout the lunch. He brought us the regular A3 menu (with some food stains), as well as a less-enticing photocopied A4 Winter Set Menu for June. The Winter Set Menu changes each month. Fiamma and I both chose to order from the main menu. Our starter choices were Tempura Prawns (R125), served with chipotle mayonnaise, and a yuzu and soy dressing; as well as grilled calamari, which was served with salsa verde and aioli (R120). Fiamma is a chef, and I welcomed her input. She judged the salsa verde as excellent. We loved the sound of an unusual corn and bacon soup as the soup of the day (R80). 

Other Starter options are Beef Carpaccio (R115), Mussels in two portion sizes (R95/R220), and a Mediterranean board of grilled halloumi, hummus, tzatziki, and toasted pita, available in two portion sizes too (R65/R90). 

Fiamma ordered the Bouillabaisse, described in the menu as including baby squid, steamed black shell Mussels, prawns, and line fish, seasoned with saffron and fennel (R210). Fiamma would have liked to see the linefish pieces to be bigger. As I am allergic to Mussels, we did not share our main courses. My main course choice was Linefish Tagliata, for which kingklip cut into blocks was used, and to which was added rocket, Parmesan, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, ginger, and soy sauce. A choice of side is offered with this dish, and I selected a Greek salad, commendable in not being filled with lettuce leaves. It was made with tomato, peppers, cucumber, feta, and olives. Other side options are hand cut chips, mash potato, seasonal roast vegetables, and roast cauliflower. 

Other main courses options offered are 200g Chalmar fillet served with a Béarnaise sauce and homemade chips (R250); lamb korma served with Basmati rice and sambals (R240); roast chicken cassoulet with cannelloni beans (R130); slow roast pork belly and crackling (R160); a 180g Beef patty Grand Burger with Emmenthal Cheese, mushrooms, and onion marmalade (R140); beer-battered hake with mint peas and homemade chips (R105); grilled prawns (R395); grilled linefish (R205); and seared salmon with a sugar and soya sauce, dating back to the first Grand Café in Plettenberg Bay (R190). One can share a Grand Seafood platter at R1350; order pasta in the form of Beef fillet linguini (R190), and gnocchi with mushrooms (R120); and order one of a choice of six pizzas, each available in two sizes, and ranging in price from the basic margherita (R95/R180) to a prawn one at R195/R380.

Llewellyn arrived a little later, having driven through from Franschhoek. He decided to order from the Winter Set Menu, which is charged at R195 for two courses and R255 for three courses. His
Starter course was Mussels, which he proclaimed to be excellent and to be a very generous portion. He paired this with a glass of Pongrácz Brut Rosé. The other starter choices were the soup of the day and quinoa salad. For his main course he ordered the roast chicken cassoulet. Other main course options were battered fish and chips and potato gnocchi. Llewellyn is not a dessert person, but could have ordered the poached pear and almond tart, the Malva pudding, or Bread & Butter pudding. 

Fiamma did not want to order a dessert, but was so impressed with the poached pear and almond tart, which was served with vanilla mascarpone cheese as well as cream (R70), that she shared it with me. I ordered a dry cappuccino, which was perfectly made. Other dessert options are chocolate hazelnut brownie with vanilla ice cream (R80); traditional Malva pudding with vanilla custard and chantilly cream (R55); and Grand baked caramel cheesecake served with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream (R90). 

Chef Dominic Faict came to say hello, and we chatted about Chef Bertus Basson having designed the opening menu when the Harbour House Group took over the management of the restaurant. It would appear that Chef Dominic would like to run with his own menu. 

Last Spring the Harbour House Group took over the management of the Grand Africa Café & Beach, and I attended the opening media lunch: 

Grand Café & Beach reopens as transformed chic beach restaurant and bar, largest in Cape Town!

Fiamma was complimentary about our meal, expressing to Rees that she found the quality of the food served to be hugely improved since her previous visit to the restaurant. We discussed ingredient information, and would like to see ingredients such as chili specified in the dish descriptions on the menu. Fish knives would be an asset. The Grand offers a good variety of dishes in a unique location. I was contacted by Radley afterwards about our lunch, and I had to be honest with him that I had a poor reaction to the kingklip Tagliata, he ensuring me immediately that they would remove all further portions of the fish from the kitchen. A huge feather in the cap of the Grand Africa Café & Beach is that it was named as being on the Condé Nast Traveller 2017 Hot List a short while ago! 

Grand Africa Café and Beach, Granger Bay, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 425-0551. www.grandafrica.com Twitter:@GrandAfrica  Instagram:@grandafrica

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein