Earlier this week Katie and Jonny Friedman invited me to see the expansion of their Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, The Dining Room having opened in an adjacent building three weeks ago.  This is the first step of the expansion, with the Orphanage Club opening later this year.

One can enter The Dining Room directly from around the corner in Orphan Street, or via The Parlour on Bree Street, and down a flight of stairs.  The interior feel in the long rectangular space is similar to that of The Parlour, with blue and white striped upholstery on the couch seating all along the wall, and is dominated by a similar crystal and key chandelier.  The space has been cleverly used, with a bar counter, as well as an open kitchen.

The menu has evolved, and is no longer the sheet of folded brown paper, but a neatly bound menu of cocktails, wines, and food.  The food offering has grown vastly, a number of the original dishes having been retained.  The same menu is offered in the Cocktail Emporium and in The Dining Room, meaning that one can choose to eat in the relatively more quiet The Dining Room, or in the ‘clubby’ Cocktail Emporium.  The prices are good value, with none of the dishes exceeding R135. One of the new dishes is the Brewers & Union Beer Battered Linefish, which a most delicious kingklip covered in a thick tasty batter, wrapped in paper and served with crispy fries (R85).  Rui Esteves, co-owner of the brewery, Tweeted his approval of how his product has been used when he saw our Tweet: ‘Had it last night…it was good’. Katie had the new Sesame Chicken Skewers, a colourful dish (R85). The menu is divided into

*  ‘Sharing Plates’, being starter or tapas styles dishes (R50 – R85), meant to be shared with friends, including Cauli Fritters, cheese poppers, smoked snoek paté, breaded prawns, octopus crunch, spicy fish cakes, mini chicken pitas, and little lamb buns.

*   ‘Light Plates’ are meant to be eaten individually, and range from R40 – R75.  One can choose between Orphanage omelette, Gazpacho, feta and roasted butternut ciabatta or salad, corn and avocado salad, Caesar salad, and Tricolore salad.

*   ‘Main Plates’ range from R55 – R135, and include the signature crayfish on butter buns, chicken Milanese, espetadas, Quesadilla, large lamb bun, spicy meatball subs, large Wiener, Orphanage Risotto made with porcini mushrooms, Arrabiata pasta, Beef fillet Robata served with mustard aioli, springbok carpaccio, cheese slate, charcuterie, and an Orphanage Mezze platter.

*   I chose the Panna Cotta with a berry coulis from the ‘Pudding’ selection, which also offers cheesecake, a sorbet trio, and the popular molten cocoa fondant, all costing R40.  The cappuccino was made perfectly, as per my request.

Kent Scheermeyer has acted as consultant for the Orphanage house wines, the range including Chenin Blanc (R40/R150), Sauvignon Blanc (R42/R160), Chardonnay (R42/R160), Rosé (R46/R180), Red Blend (R46/R180), and Pinot Noir (R50/R195), each wine made by a different winemaker.  The Red Blend, for example, comes from Mullineux Family Wines.  An additional wine, which we enjoyed together, was Thunderchild, made for Die Herberg children’s home in Robertson, of which 5 ha on their property have been planted to vines, with the support of a number of Robertson winemakers. The wine has made by Springfield winemaker Abrie Bruwer, its maiden vintage 2008 now being available.  All the profit of the wine goes to the children’s home.

The Orphanage Club will open when they have received their licence to operate until 4h00, likely to take another six months, Katie said.  She showed me the space upstairs, above The Dining Room, which will have its own bar, and entertainers performing.  It has a terrace, with a good view over Cape Town.  Both the Orphanage Club and The Dining Room can be booked for events.

The Dining Room, Orphanage Cocktail Emporium.  Corner Bree and Orphan Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-2004. www.theorphanage.co.za Twitter: @OrphanageClub Monday – Saturday.  Occasional opening on Sundays and public holidays.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage