I was invited to attend the launch of the newly opened Harrington’s Cocktail Lounge, in the Cape Town city centre, previously Assembly night club, last night. I love its Art Deco decor. 

The first impression of Harrington’s Cocktail Lounge, on the first floor of the building, is its quirky decor, with interesting wall paper, desk, chair, and standing lamp. Once one enters the Cocktail Lounge, having passed a full wall length bar counter, one notices its spaciousness, with lots of seating ‘coves’. I also noted three ‘portholes’ in the far end of the room, with seating behind a wall with three round windows. 

We were served a never-ending supply of canapés and beverages. A gin and cranberry cocktail had been prepared, but House Cocktails could also be ordered. Nine House Cocktails are available, costing between R70 and R105, and I noted three made with Wilderer gin, two with Beefeater gin, and two with Absolut Vodka. Eight Classic cocktails are also available, costing between R54 and R84. Imported bubblies cost up to R6500 for Laurent Perrier Jouet Brut Rosé, with Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Moët et Chandon, and Mumm being available. Local MCCs offered are L’Ormarins, Allee Bleue, and Villiera, with the first two bubblies offered by the glass too. The wine list has a number of spelling errors, and provides no vintage or origin information. 

It was a surprise to see Chef Sheldon Raju, who has been working with Harrington’s for the past two months, on a contract basis. He prepared a platter of canapés for me to photograph, and sent them to me with waiter Jethro Strydom, a friendly and efficient waiter who checked on me regularly thereafter. When I associated his first name with Jethro Tull, he confirmed that his mother has been a fan, and hence his first name. 

The canapés served were Saldanha Bay oysters with an Asian dressing; vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili dip; chicken samoosas; beef skewers; Arancini with aioli; and finally a selection of macarons, chocolate truffles, and strawberries dipped in chocolate. 

Chef Sheldon has designed a menu, of which the canapés will be available as ‘at the bar in a jar‘, in a price range of R30 for the spring rolls, to R80 for the oysters. 

Playing on the ‘Harrington’s’ name, ‘Harry’s Platters‘ of oysters with steamed mussels, and beetroot smoked salmon trout (R160); and Roast rib eye, seared venison, dauphonoise fries, and celeriac mayonnaise (R180) will be available. For desserts a trio of tiramisu, crème brûlée, and vanilla bean ice cream (R70) will be offered. 

As I arrived I was offered a drink by co-owner Guy Wood, a very friendly operator who explained the background of the new cocktail lounge. He estimates the building to date back to the ‘Sixties, of which the Assembly operated in the building for the past nine years. Downstairs is a related events venue called SurfaRosa, owned by two professional surfers Twiggy Baker and Jordy Smith, ‘an edgy dive bar with a sublimated punk and surf influence‘, with a light food offering by Chef Wesley Robb. A function venue called District nightclub (with electronic DJs and live bands), named after the former District Six, completes the trio of venues in the building. The decor design was done by Birgitta Butler, in conjunction with co-owner and restaurateur Reg Macdonald.

Harrington’s forms part of The Firm Hospitality Management, which manages entertainment venues, including The Village Idiot, Aces & Spades, and Villains Ale House. 

Harrington’s Cocktail Lounge, 61 Harrington Street, Cape Town. Tel 0760704474. www.thefirmct.co.za  Instagram @harringtonsct Wednesday – Saturday from 16h00. 

District nightclub, entrance on Constitution Street, Cape Town. Fridays and Saturdays.

SurfaRosa, Tuesday – Saturday from 13h00. 

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