Restaurant Review: Macho Tiger’s Milk Kitchen/Bar Camps Bay opens, a mix of posh and rustic!

Yesterday afternoon at 16h00 the eagerly awaited Tiger’s Milk Kitchen/Bar Camps Bay opened its doors, blowing some fresh wind into the Camps Bay beachfront, the first opening in the suburb of a new restaurant since Maison J, but hardly comparable in size and offering. It was described by Tiger’s Milk Brand Manager Matthew Howell as a ‘bi-polar’ mix of the upmarket decor of the Kloof Street Branch, and the more rustic Muizenberg and Long Street Tiger’s Milk branches. The view onto Camps Bay beach from this Eatery is special, compared to the other end of the Beachfront. 

Since moving to Camps Bay just over four months ago I walk along the Camps Bay beachfront almost every day, and noted the closure of La Parada Camps Bay, with no action for quite a while, despite rumours that the building would be turned into a Tiger’s Milk, also a brand of the former Harbour  House Group and now called Life & Brand Portfolio. Suddenly work started happening, the first sign being a strongly branded black netting enclosure of the building at street level. The most significant change to the building was the creation of an upstairs deck, and I saw it being erected day by day, over the nine week construction period. The project was clearly running late, as with all construction projects, I being told a week ago that it was to open during last week, but workers were still working late on Saturday evening to get everything ready, for the opening! On Saturday I was allowed access to photograph the completed sections, mainly upstairs. 

When I went for my walk yesterday afternoon, just after 16h00, I saw the entrance closed. Two very eager first customers were waiting patiently to get in, having been promised a 16h00 opening of the brand new restaurant. They are in my main photograph above. 

I was not planning to eat at the new Eatery, but could not resist going there later on, at least for a cup of coffee. The waiter told me that the coffee machine was not yet operating. I was lucky to have Matthew (in the photograph at the bar) there, and he promised to make a plan, to get a dry cappuccino made for me. Matthew and I know each other from La Parada Constantia Nek as well as Tiger’s Milk Kloof Street, so he knows how I like my coffee. 

I walked around downstairs, photographing the completed restaurant, having been allowed a sneak preview on Saturday afternoon already, when the upstairs section was ready, but the builders were still finishing off downstairs. Whilst photographing, Chef Burton Leo came to introduce himself to me, saying that he is the Tiger’s Milk Brand chef, and a friend of Table Bay Hotel Pastry Chef LeeAndra Govender, both members of the SA International Culinary team. Then I met Group Executive Chef Sian Kaplan, a charming young lady, whom I had met at Jarryd’s, she reminded me. She took care of my order, and came back to check if I was happy with it. I liked that she looked natural, not wearing a stark clinical chef uniform. I briefly met Manager Dave too. 

The Camps Bay Tiger’s Milk is the tenth to open, with the eleventh following hot on its heels in Kalk Bay on Friday. The decor of the Tiger’s Milk Restaurants has evolved from the more rustic Castrol petrol look, to the more upmarket look which was introduced by former owner and founder Michael Townsend at the Kloof Street Branch a year ago, with a gold-coloured cladding around the bar counter, now lit at the new branch, making a strong statement as one enters off Victoria Road. Black and white tiles are prominent around the base of the bar. Walls are painted black, with wall art in white, and the familiar Tiger’s Milk decor look of gold bull’s heads, and a mix of pictures of macho men. The motorcycle above the side entrance communicates the dominant male target market, and this is reflected in the menu too.  There are two downstairs bars, back to back, and one upstairs. The downstairs one has a steampunk look to it.

A new decor mix is branded surfboards, which may come from a recent decor upgrade of the Muizenberg branch, but only one has been installed, with more to come Matthew said. A black Tiger’s Milk Cobra sports car as well as a motorcycle parked outside are planned. The kitchen has been moved to the back of the building. A window to the side street allows patrons to observe the chefs preparing the foods. The pizza oven is close by, with a rustic feel to it, in part created by an artist whom I observed last week.

Tables are wooden. Each table contains a branded Tiger’s Milk box with cutlery, forks, standard knives as well as steak knives, serviettes, ketchup, as well as Oryx salt and black pepper grinders. 

The menu is extensive, and well-presented, on thick brown board, affixed to a wooden board with a smart brown leather trim. The Social Media information is on the front cover. Having eaten at the Tiger’s Milk Kloof Street after its opening last year, I know that the Eatery is associated with hamburgers in the main but increasingly with pizzas too.

The ‘Kickstarters’ section offers chicken livers, mac ‘n’ cheese bacon bombs, chicken wings, calamari, cheese toasties, in a price range of R42 – R82. A separate Tex-Mex starter section offers nachos, tacos, and taquitos, most costing R85. An Add-on of chicken adds R13 to one of the latter dishes, while a substitution to a veggie tacos reduces the cost to R65. 

In chatting to Chef Sian, the salad section was where I looked for the most healthy food to eat, and I ordered the Avo & Feta salad, a very generous portion of lettuce leaves, cucumber, tomato slices, feta (I had mine raw but the menu describes it being served with deep-fried feta), and slices of avocado. I excluded the red onion, and requested the French vinaigrette on the side, a delicious creamy sauce (R95). I did not expect such a large size salad, and did not feel guilty in indulging in it. On Facebook there was some criticism that it was served on a wooden board, the hygiene aspect of this questioned. Other salad options are Corny Chicken, with Mexican chicken strips, chargrilled corn, black beans, fresh avocado, jalapeños, lettuce, pico de gallo (a salsa), and tortilla dippers (R100). A Caesar salad costs R95, served with cos lettuce, bacon, shaved Parmesan, a deep-fried soft-boiled egg, and garlic croutons. To any of the salads, or other dishes I assume, one can add a host of extras, including a vegan patty, other patties, chicken breast, bacon, avocado, cheeses, mushrooms, fried eggs, and more, in a range from R10 to R59, allowing one to customize one’s own dish. 

Seven Pizza options are offered, from the basic Margherita (R98), to the most indulgent F.A.B.ulous (with Feta, Avo, Bacon), and Three Little Piggies (with bacon, pepperoni, chorizo), each costing R138.

The burger options are fun, each having a clever name, describing exactly how indulgent it is, for example Stepchild, Magic Mushroom, Moaning @ Midnight, Triple Bypass (laden with cheese, bacon, and truffle-infused mushroom sauce), and The Pretender, with a lentil, bean, and nut patty, avocado, and a Vegan mayonnaise, truly Vegan if the bun is excluded Photograph .right, photographed later today from neighbouring patrons. The prices range from R89 to R125. The burger patty options are flexible, one having the choice of chicken breast, beef patties, Vegan lentil patties, and more, some at the same cost of the burgers, and other substitutions having an additional charge of R10. One side dish comes with the burger, each costing R29; if one wanted to order more than one side, including potatoes, a salad, slaw, fries, onion rings, and roasted butternut and feta. I saw the mushroom burger and side salad on a table whilst photographing, two mushroom and cheese burgers offered fot the price of one in Mondays, I was told by Manager Dave. 

More indulgent burgers are grouped as ‘The Outlaws’, and the new Big Mac ‘n’ Cheese has provoked commentary on Social Media for its cheekiness in calling it this McDonald’s name  – they offer a Colonel Chicken Wings starter too, KFC coming to mind! The ‘Big Mac’ consists of a beef patty as well as a Mac ‘n’ cheese bacon patty, mature cheddar, and cheese sauce, at R110. The most decadent burger must be the Doughnut touch my Burger, with a glazed doughnut, cheese-stuffed beef patty, and candied bacon (R115)!  

Other mains include beer-battered fish, calamari, sticky ribs, and chicken options, in a range of R125 to R220. Sirloin and rump steaks are charged at R128 for 200g and R158 for 300g. Surprisingly a 200 g fillet steak (R168) costs more than the 300g (R158). Sharing dishes are available too, including ribs and wings, nachos, sliders, and various fries options. 

The dessert options are few, at only four. I must have tried the most indulgent of them all, the Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich, a plain doughnut sliced, in between which were three balls of ice cream, hundreds and thousands, chocolate sauce, and topped with chocolate shavings (R62). A decadent delight! One can also order a chocolate brownie and ice cream (R58), toasted marshmallows and chocolate sauce on a pizza base (R50), and a New York cheesecake with whiskey caramel sauce (R69). 

Music plays an important role, in attracting new diners from the pavement, and is therefore loud, but also in creating atmosphere, a little too loud on the front terrace downstairs I found, it being heavy rock. Matthew told me that the same playlist can be heard at each Tiger’s Milk, the same song playing at the same moment in each branch. The music style is Eighties Rock, very masculine too. I was also told that the music equipment positioning has been designed to be louder until one walks into the restaurant, and is less loud when one walks deeper into the restaurant. Matthew also told me that on Saturdays they will have DJs playing, but he is not sure if there will be dancing too. Exciting is the opening party, with free entrance, on Saturday 24 November, with Sketchy Bongo and other DJs performing.

An irritation was seeing vendors hassle the patrons sitting at the pavement tables, in full view of the restaurant security, the security man looking after the front of the building having a long chat to a non-restaurant patron. 

The service I received was excellent, being in the hands of Matthew and Chef Sian, but I heard some other patrons struggling in communicating with a waitress re how her steak was done. I too struggled to get my invoice and my credit card slip stapled, the waitress appearing not to be able to find a stapler, so much so that I had to find her and get my slips from her, being keen to get my phone charged elsewhere and to photograph the rest of the astounding sunset last night. Reaction to new patrons arriving is slow, in bringing them a menu, despite staff standing on the entrance steps, but I am sure that the service will improve. The cloakroom I used appeared unfinished.

POSTSCRIPT 13/11: I returned for a cappuccino and to return the borrowed menu, and sat upstairs on the deck, it being jam-packed. I sat at a counter against the edge, and saw that the counter height is perfect, in allowing one to photograph across the road to the beach and palm trees without seeing any cars. Perfect design! Service is still slow. 

POSTSCRIPT 30/11:  Yesterday I noticed patrons sitting on the terrace of Tiger’s Milk before midday, the time at which the restaurant opened when I wrote the above review. I went inside, spoke to the GM Sandro, and he told me that now open at 8h00, and serve breakfast until 11h00. He offered to have an omelet with basil pesto, rocket, feta, and cherry tomatoes, with toast (R55), made for me. It was delicious, with the slightest hint of a spice, but I was assured that it was not chili. He had a dry cappuccino made for me too. A whole host of extras can be ordered, eg baked beans, an extra egg, a grilled banana, and Avo.  Other ‘Morning Glory’ offerings are Avo on toast (R35), Eggs Benedict with/without truffle (R75/R70), Breakfast Burrito (R86), and a ‘Bed Head Burger’, being a Beef patty, fried egg, bacon, cheese sauce, caramelised onions, and garlic aioli, at R 75. 

Tiger’s Milk Kitchen/Bar Camps Bay, 33 Victoria Road, Camps Bay. Tel (021) 286-2106 Twitter: @Tigersmilkza Instagram: @Tigersmilkza Open daily, from 8h00. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein


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