In less than a week after opening its newest Tiger’s Milk Restaurant & Bar on Kloof Street in Cape Town, the restaurant is operating smoothly, as if it has always been there. It is already busy, attracting custom with little marketing effort to date by the Harbour House Group. A hugely exciting attraction is that DJ René Tanguy will be playing at the newest Tiger’s Milk on Fridays, starting this week. It is the 26th Harbour House Group restaurant to open.
The new 180-seater Kloof Street branch is the eighth Tiger’s Milk to open since 2014, when the Muizenberg restaurant opened in its beautiful setting overlooking False Bay. Tiger’s Milk has become not only a collection of restaurants within the Harbour House Group, but also is a specially crafted beer brand for the Harbour House Group restaurants. The other Tiger’s Milk restaurants are located on Long Street in Cape Town, in Claremont, in Century City, in Stellenbosch, in Bryanston, in Lynwood Bridge in Pretoria, with the ninth restaurant set to open in Cedar Square in Fourways in Johannesburg in November. The Rheede Street entrance to the restaurant is newly created, a street not as well-known as Kloof Street, yet it has been featured in the Oscar-winning documentary about Rodrigues, linked to the Mabu Vinyl record shop directly across the road from the new Tiger’s Milk.
I met with Tiger’s Milk Brand Manager Stuart Bailey at the newest Tiger’s Milk, and he told me that each new restaurant opening gets easier. He has a checklist to work through, with orders placed with suppliers for crockery, cutlery, glassware and other requirements, the same look and feel being created in each Tiger’s Milk restaurant largely. Preparation is the key word for new restaurant launches. A staff complement for a new restaurant is built up over the six month opening preparation time, coming from existing branches of the restaurant group, to make the opening as smooth as possible. I could see how this worked on the day that we had lunch, there being no panic or uncertainty amongst the waiters and chefs, our table having been located close to the kitchen. Senior staff is headhunted.
Stuart told me that the Harbour House Group does everything it does to the ‘Harbour House standard‘, to an ‘uncompromising quality‘, a policy set by the Harbour House Group Founder Michael Townsend. For Tiger’s Milk this applies to its burger, pizza, and rib offering, and standard quality processes are followed, as they are for the other Harbour House Group restaurants, including La Parada, Harbour House, Lucky Fish & Chips, Grand Africa Café & Beach, Live Bait, Sirocco Café, and Charango. So, for example, they have been on a roll to find the ultimate roll for their burgers in Cape Town, having finally found the perfect brioche roll made by a confectionery supplier. Similarly they have been perfecting their calamari offering, to get it as tender as possible. They have a central Harbour House Group kitchen, where desserts are prepared for the Group restaurants, as are burger patties and sauces for the Tiger’s Milk restaurants in particular. Consistency is vital to the Group, and the production of certain items in the Group central kitchen assists in achieving the quality consistency.
For the Kloof Street branch Michael wanted to add an edge to the decor, giving the peninsula-shaped bar a special classy feel, with a gold bulkhead, and gold outer cladding, with a ‘Glam Retro‘ look, and via the name Bar Splendido, inspired by an Orlando namesake. The Bar name is only visible above the Rheede Street entrance to the restaurant (one can enter via Kloof Street too), and reminds one of the Labia Theatre in its retro look. In a neighbouring seating section is a large wall mural of Picasso’s ‘Guernica‘, which Michael liked the look of (maybe because it has a bull head in it!), and linked to his retro theme. On another wall is a picture poster of Marlon Brando, who clearly is a hero for Michael, and visibly in all Tiger’s Milks, reflecting the edginess of the Tiger’s Milk brand, it being cool and trendy, and making one relive one’s youth.
On a follow-up visit the playlist was being tested and adjusted by Stuart, with Ian McMahon present too, a specialist restaurant music playlist producer. My suggestion of ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits has been added to the playlist! I witnessed two patrons spontaneously starting to dance to the vibey restaurant music on an evening follow-up visit.
The new Tiger’s Milk is in a space which was previously that of Emily’s, a restaurant which belonged to iconic Chef Peter Veldsman, who ran the restaurant from Woodstock and V&A Waterfront premises previously. Veldsman has retired, and the building was standing vacant for some time. The entrance wall is funky, largely in black, with good branding, making it visible from Kloof Street. A pizza oven has been added, visible as one enters from the Kloof Street side, clad in copper, giving it an aged look, even though it is brand new. Where the lawn was, is now a paved section, with outside seating. The wall colour is dark grey.
A second outside seating area has been created, under a tree, close to the original entrance to the restaurant. It is in this outside section that DJ René and his team will be setting up to entertain his keen dancing and music fans, on Fridays, from 16h00 until 22h00, starting this Friday. DJ René has terminated his relationship with HQ, where he played on Friday evenings for eight years.
Indoors the restaurant runs from the Kloof Street entrance all the way down to the Rheede Street entrance, with an eclectic mix of round, small, and communal tables, and a mix of chairs, some wood only, and others with upholstered fabric and leather seating. Sections of parquet flooring were added in this area. The kitchen is totally open plan, running alongside the seating section.
When entering through the newly created Rheede Street doorway, one will encounter seating on the terrace outside, and when stepping inside the building, the Bar Splendido, in its U- or peninsula-shape, dominates the entrance space, even though there are tables set up nearby too. Flooring here is beautifully done in black and white tiles, in three different tile designs and layouts. A wall has the familiar gold-coloured bull head, surrounded by a collection of pictures. Above the communal table is a row of decanter lights, now a familiar Tiger’s Milk decor touch that impressed me when I first saw them at the launch of the Tiger’s Milk branch in Muizenberg.
Tables have a large glass vase of greenery, and a Tiger’s Milk wooden box, containing Nova Vision cutlery with Regent Stainless Steel steak knives, paper napkins, Heinz ketchup, salt and pepper grinders by Bidvest, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, Tabasco sauces, as well as Bidvest refresher towels in sachets. The menu is printed on brown paper board, clipped to a board, and is the same in each Tiger’s Milk outlet, Stuart assured me.
Stuart ordered a glass of white wine, while I had a glass of Saronsberg Shiraz Provenance (R75/R238), a superb producer of Shiraz wines. The beer-battered hake (R115) had sold out by the time we placed our order, it being one of the most popular dishes, but I had managed to photograph Chef Sam and an order of it at the pass, taken at the time that I arrived. I chose a full portion of grilled calamari, with a green sauce of parsley, garlic, and coriander on the side (R69 for a starter portion, but I could not find the cost of the main portion on the menu). One has the choice of chips or salad, and I chose the latter for health reasons, our waiter asking me if I wanted feta cheese and avocado added to the salad, which I accepted. The salad was exceptional, with soft fresh butter lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onions, and olives too. I struggled to finish the main course portion of calamari.
Stuart ordered the Triple Bypass Burger (R115), and he explained to me that it is called that as it has a 180g Beef patty, bacon, Emmenthal cheese, and truffle mushroom sauce, with a lettuce leaf. It is served with hand-cut chips, which are crispy and firm, having tried one of Stuart’s chips. There is a choice of nine ‘Big Buns’ burgers, all 180 gram pure beef or chicken breast, served with standard red onion, tomato, gherkins, lettuce, as well as fries or a salad. Burgers start at R85 for the ‘Stepchild’ as well as ‘Tree Hugger’ burgers, the latter burger described as containing mushrooms, aubergine, and feta. The burgers have fun names, such as ‘Magic Mushroom’, ‘Moaning at Midnight’ (with mature cheddar, bacon, fried egg, baconaise, and bacon jam!), and ‘Rockstar’ (with a cheese slice, bacon, and guacamole).
Starters, called ‘Appetisers‘ on the menu, include grilled or fried calamari (R69), spicy chicken wings (R65), peri peri chicken livers (R75), and bacon and jalapeño croquettes (R59). Salads are very fresh and delicious, with an offering of Caprese (R75), Avocado and feta (R95), and Caesar (R95). Sauces and butters cost R25. Three steak options are available, in 200g and 300g sizes, rump and sirloin costing R128/R155, while fillet costs R159/R180. BBQ pork ribs with fries and salad cost R135 and R185 for a portion of 300g and 600g, respectively. A peri peri half chicken with fries and salad costs R155. Five pizza options make the choice which one to order difficult, ranging in price from R75 for a Pizza Bianca, to R135 for Roast leg of lamb and the Asian pulled pork pizzas.
For dessert I chose the very indulgent but delicious Jack Daniels Spiked chocolate mousse, with two scoops of this indulgence and another of vanilla bean ice cream, topped with almond flakes (R50), while Stuart ordered a good looking New York baked cheesecake with vanilla bean ice cream (R59). Stuart told me that they will be sourcing ice cream from Sinnfull shortly, it being of a better quality. Other dessert options are bread & butter pudding (R59), ice cream and chocolate sauce (R49), and pecan nut pie with vanilla bean ice cream (R65). I had my first decaf dry cappuccino, having struggled to sleep the night before due to drinking two cappuccinos, after a four-day abstinence. It was the first time that I have seen a serviette offered with a coffee, deserving a special compliment!
A list of 14 cocktails is available to order, with some classics such as a Cosmo, and range in price from R58 to R75. I am not a cocktail drinker, but was intrigued by the ‘apricot stuff’ description of the Apricot and Bacon Old-fashioned on the menu. Hampton & Co, made as the house wine by Spier for the Harbour House Group, costs R35/R135 and R38/R145 for a glass/bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, respectively. MCCs listed are Villiera Tradition Brut (R275), Pongracz NV (R79/R308 per glass/bottle), Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV (R345), and G.H. Mumm Brut/Demi Sec/Cordon Rouge champagnes at R1150/R1199/R1299, respectively. White wine cultivars offered are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and White Blends, with six of the 15 wines offered by the glass. Three Rosé brands are offered. Red wine cultivars offered are Merlot, Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blends, and Malbec, with ten of the 17 red wines offered served by the glass. Wine vintages are not specified. Tiger’s Milk Lager and Part Wolf Pilsener house brand draught beers are offered with Castle Lite and Black Label, as are bottled beers and ciders.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see the GM Jürgen Welp after a six-year absence, having last seen him when he was the Restaurant Manager at Bistro 1682, at the time that Brad Ball was the Executive Chef. Chef Brad has recently joined the Harbour House Group, as its Group Executive Chef.
I could not believe how small the world is when Jürgen (left) told me that he had been at Wynberg Boys High, and in the same class as Brandon Löndt, whom I met in Apricale in Italy whilst I was there last month to write The Book! I also met the Deputy GM Simon Rudd, who previously worked in the U.K., in Zanzibar, and at Cape to Cuba in Kalk Bay. It was wonderful to see how Christian, working in the bar, loves his job, radiating passion for this new restaurant.
Free guest wifi is available.
It is clear that this Tiger’s Milk Kloof Street branch will be hugely successful, and will refocus attention on the iconic food street, which has lost some of its shine to Bree Street. The restaurant has a good food and beverage offering, a good vibe, friendly staff, quirky decor, and the dancing with DJ René on Fridays, and its good value make it a splendid winner!
Tiger’s Milk Restaurant & Bar Splendido Kloof Street, entrances on Rheede and Kloof Streets, Cape Town. Tel (021) 286-2209 www.tigersmilk.co.za Twitter: @TigersMilkZA Instagram: @tigersmilkza Monday – Sunday. 12h00 – late.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein