The new The Yard in the Silo District of the V&A Waterfront opened last week, as a multi-cultural cuisine restaurant, but also offering a bar, a homeware shop, and a Deli. It is the most unique restaurant I have experienced, in its diverse food offering.
I had seen The Yard last week, after a visit to the trendy new Zeitz MOCAA Contemporary African Art Museum, just as I was getting into the lift, when I saw the homeware shop section of The Yard. I promptly got out of the lift again, and had a look, focusing only on the Deli and the Homeware sections. Yesterday I returned, at the invitation of Lauren Shantall Pty Ltd, and was given a detailed tour, met the co-owner GP Singh, and had lunch.
The Yard is the joint venture of GP and Abigail Bisogno, who has been closely involved in the Spice Route development outside Paarl. She is the sister of Charles Back, and the connection is visible through the Fairview cheeses and wines, as well as the glassware offered, made by the glass studio at Spice Route. Abigail had a background in fashion, having been the MD of Foschini. GP grew up in India, but moved to Singapore with his family. Six years ago he moved to Cape Town, and opened Punjab Express Indian restaurant in Westlake with his wife Beena. Beena and Abigail have done business for the past 24 years, when Abigail was involved in the clothing business. The clothing stocked at The Yard is locally made, GP assured me. Abigail says of the collaboration with GP: ‘GP and I share a vision and passion for Euro-Asian cuisine that seeks to unify Asia-Indian-European flavours. We intend to make our new space in the Silo District the destination where this type of food and our unique brand of retail can be experienced and enjoyed!’
Head Chef Deep Arneja has been in the country for three months, having previously worked at The Oberoi Udaivilas in India, a top rated hotel. He has worked with Michelin-star Chef Michel Roux Jr at La Gavroche, and has experienced Egyptian and Indonesian cuisine, on trips to those countries for The Oberoi. His food passions are pasta, fresh salad, and bread-making. His food philosophy focuses on fresh and organic. He says that the biggest asset a chef can have is his/her palate.
The largest part of the generous space of The Yard is dedicated to the restaurant, with a seating area for 200 diners, a bar, an open-plan kitchen, a Buffet, a Deli, a roastery run by Rosetta, and a homeware shop. The area is too large to capture in one photograph. The Yard is named after the dockyard closeby, and is located below the Virgin Active. The Silo District will attract large numbers of visitors to the Zeitz MOCAA Contemporary African Art Museum, which opened in late September. The Yard is one of two major restaurants in the Silo District, and caters for not only tourists visiting the Museum, but also guests of the Silo Hotel, staff of the companies in offices in the area, and residents in apartments closeby.
I struggled with the lighting, a lot of sunlight coming into The Yard on a bright sunny day, and this was exacerbated by the fluorescent lighting. I am very grateful to Lauren Shantall Pty Ltd for the use of some of its photographs.
Rosetta Coffee Roastery
Our first stop was at the coffee roastery, and I was quite surprised that the barista said that he did not know how to make a dry cappuccino, their Spirit Coffee machine, the only one of its kind in South Africa, only making micro-foam. The barista went on to explain that they encourage the ‘old-fashioned’ (my words, not his) way of making coffee, percolated slowly in a percolator with filter paper. It is slow-brewed, little bits of water poured over the less fine coffee grinds at a time. If one pours in too much water at a time, the coffee is over-extracted, he said. The coffee is best drunk black, with no milk or sugar added. We drunk it in a little bowl made by ceramicist Diana Ferreira. It was luke warm, the correct temperature to drink it at, said our barista. The percolators and water pourers are sold at The Yard. This was an interesting start to our tour at The Yard, and enhanced my knowledge of coffee.
Impressive are the tasting notes they offer for the various coffee cultivars. Lauren had suggested a less strong Kainamui coffee, from Kenya, described as having ‘juicy citrus elements set against sweet red berry notes’. The relevant card is displayed, depending on the source of the coffee beans from which the coffee is made.
Cookies and muffins, as well as croissants and pastries, are available to eat with one’s coffee.
The non-restaurant food offering is available in two forms:
# a Deli fridge offers small portions of food-to-go, aimed at the users of the Virgin Active in particular, in being healthy and protein-rich, with unique offerings. Yesterday they offered quinoa and egg pot, spinach and egg pot, strawberry probiotic yoghurt, a Berry pot, and sandwiches. Fairview and other brand cheeses, as well as mini cheeseboards, are available. Ice teas and smoothies are also sold. GP explained that the offering will change during the course of the day, to include salads for lunch, and take-home dishes for dinner for residents of the area. Another fridge offers pre-packed Charcuterie options.
# The Yard has made preserves of various fruit, and also sells home-made pasta, an extensive range of De Villiers chocolates (a Spice Route tenant), olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and Rosetta Roastery coffee, amongst others.
I saw a long table, which will become a Farm Table, with a display of the organic eggs, organic milk, and breads they offer, said GP.
The Homeware shop
On my visit a week ago I fell in love with the blue crockery made by ceramicist Anthony Shapiro of Art in the Forest in Constantia, made especially for The Yard. They offer plates, which are those used in the restaurant too, as well as platters and bowls in this design. Lauren showed me a green range too. Cutlery which is used in the restaurant is for sale too, and is sourced from India. Napkins in blue, matching the ceramic range, are offered. I saw copper pots, the coffee making accessories, and other stylish items.
Glassware is selective, and again I fell in love with a blue glass vase or bowl, with matching drinking glasses, stemming from the Glass studio at Spice Route. The items are available in other colours too. I saw drinking glasses with a geometric design in blue, inspired by the design of the windows in The Silo building, and were commissioned by Abigail, an unusual momento of a visit to the hotel or the Zeitz MOCAA.
A surprise was seeing dresses, and the shirt dresses are made with colourful fabrics with fresh food items on them. Had they been shorter in length I would have bought one immediately!
Homeware items include mohair throws, colourful cushions, bags, hats, jewelry, and other gift items.
Zeitz MOCCA prints
Artist Lucie de Moyencourt did illustrations of the architectural highlights of the transformation of the Silo building which housed the granary, and prints of these are sold. I was told that Thomas Heatherwick, London-based Head architect for the transformation project, personally approved the illustrations which are sold.
We took a seat at the Bar, and Bar Manager Wesley Hill (previously at the Cape Royale Hotel) talked us through his cocktail menu, with some traditional cocktails such as Mojitas and Pina Coladas, and other innovative ones.
Wesley demonstrated the making of the Poison Apple cocktail (R80), made with Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Apple syrup. He mixed both liquids into a beautiful small crystal carafe, put a glass bell jar over it, and then filled his smoking gun (never seen before) with cinnamon sticks and apple wood chips. He lifted the bell jar, and pushed the pipe underneath it, letting the smoke into the jar. It is presented at the table like this, the guest pouring his/her cocktail into a glass with ice. I tasted a tiny sip of it, and loved it, but could taste its potency! I loved its green colour!
Wesley made us a Pina Colada, a Mojito, and Bramble berry cocktail, all without alcohol, given that it was lunchtime, and the first day of the week!
The restaurant has many four-seater black metal tables and metal chairs, with artwork supplied by smac gallery. There are some wooden long tables too, and we sat at one of these with GP, his wife, and Head Chef Deep.
The flavourful Lunch and Dinner menu pays homage to Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Oriental, and Indian influences. This reflects the origin of the chefs in the kitchen, including the Indian Head Chef Deep, and a Colombian chef.
We were shown the Lunch Buffet, which is available from 11h30 – 14h30, one choosing three salads out of an offer of four. The salad offering is rotated every two weeks. One pays R75 for the salad selection choice, and can add a choice of protein, at a total lunch cost of R120. Yesterday the Buffet offering was as follows:
# Sweet potato, feta, and mange tout salad
# Three bean salad, with a mint dressing
# The Beetroot and Orange salad with balsamic dressing was my favourite, a beautiful colour contrast (right)
# Chicken Tikka was a protein offering
# Chips are available too.
A bread basket with focaccia and sour dough breads, with butter, is part of the Buffet offering.
A small Indian Street Food dish, called Papri Chaat, was also offered. GP described it to me as gluten-free, made with chickpea flour, tamarind, coriander, their house-made probiotic yoghurt, and mint sauce (right).
# Masala Chai Brûlée, served with a large almond and orange biscotti, and with the most delicious sour cherry marmalade, costs R70 (left)
# The Yard Mess was deconstructed, with tandoori pineapple, coconut brûlée, passion fruit meringues, apple jelly, berries, and honeycomb, costs R70 (right).
# Mango cheesecake with brittle
# Berry and a blueberry shard (left)
Breakfast is served until 11h00, and its menu is separate, with a special marbled paper cover and leather strap. A full-on Breakfast Sunrise with juice, coffee, and cooked Breakfast costs R180; The Yard Jetsetter costs R75 for juice, coffee, and croissant. Healthy müslis, including Ayurvedic yoghurt, cost between R70 – R90. I was excited to see Birchers’ müsli on the menu, and it looks special on the photograph that I received (left). Toasters, with avo or salmon, are offered (R95/R75). Eggs Your Way is self-explanatory, costing R90. Eggs Florentine/Benedict/Royale cost R90/R110/R115. Four Indian breakfast options are available.
From 16h00 Tapas are available, including wild mushrooms vol au vent, crusted squid, chicken tikka, and balsamic onion tart, ranging in price from R45 – R75.
For Lunch and Dinner platters can be ordered to share, a choice of Mediterranean, Indian, Oriental, and Middle Eastern offered, costing R550 for four to share, R950 for eight persons, and R1450 for twelve persons. Four salads are available, including Caprese (photograph). Main courses include chicken breast, kingklip, Angus fillet, rack of lamb, Thai curry (R125 – R245), as well as pasta dishes (R95 – R145), and Indian dishes (R95 – R165).
It was a fascinating visit to The Yard, with so many cultural influences on the food served at The Yard experienced, and to see the unique diversity of offerings throughout the space. The Yard impresses with its emphasis on healthy eating, and affordable prices. Lovers of Indian foods will enjoy the restaurant in particular, and diners will feel very at home at The Yard.
Disclosure: I received a bottle of Fairview Viognier 2015, as well as a The Yard spice mix container, in a shopper bag, decorated with a bandana made by Abigail’s daughter Isabella.
The Yard, Silo District, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) Facebook. No website. Twitter:@TheYardCapeTown Instagram:@theyardcapetown Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and in-between coffee and treats from 07h30 to 22h30 daily.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein