NV-80 Grill & Bar has an unusual name, the two letters representing the brothers Naldo and Victor Gonçalves, and the 80 for the year in which they started restauranting together in Johannesburg.
My visit to the restaurant was in the worst of restaurant times last month, a few days before our President lifted the alcohol ban, with fewer persons than normal in the restaurant, we were told by Manager Shaun Gonçalves, son of owner Victor Gonçalves.
I was invited to try the restaurant for the first time by Katie Friedman, who brought her young son Iggy along. We dined on a Saturday late afternoon, when restaurants had to close at 20h00 and were not allowed to serve alcohol. We ordered off the À la Carte Menu.
I was invited to meet Victor yesterday, and he added some detail about the history of NV-80 and its predecessor restaurants. He said that they operate in an old school manner, he having been in the restaurant industry for 42 years. They opened NV-80 in The Point Mall seven years ago, being told that it would never work in that the restaurant has no passing trade. He proved his critics wrong, the quality of the food, the well-trained waiters and the personalised service from Victor and his son Shaun, coupled with word-of-mouth from locals, having created many regular clients for the restaurant. He told me that he sold the Pigalle Supper Club in Green Point, which he owned for 18 years. His brother owns two Pigalle restaurants in Johannesburg, having sold one.
The NV-80 Facebook page devotes a lot of detail in sharing the history of the two brothers, and their restaurants, opening their first coffee shop in Lisbon in 1978. Vilamoura was one of their best known restaurant brands, before they opened Pigalle in Cape Town and in Johannesburg, to be followed by NV-80. It reveals that NV-80 is focused on Capetonians who love relaxed eateries, its mix of simplicity and sophistication attracting its clients, from Sea Point and the Atlantic Seaboard n the main. The menu is a collection of the Gonçalves brothers’ favorite dishes on their menus over the years.
‘NV-80 is a throwback to the 80’s when the duo began business together. Offering guests intimate indoor dining, an alfresco balcony for sundowners and a chic centre bar, this oasis of a restaurant feels far removed from its shopping centre location. NV-80 shares a Cuba meets vintage hotel dining room ambience with bright lemon and teal hues set amongst tall palm trees. Fluorescent finishes coat classic cast aluminum, Windsor dining chairs wear metal feet and copper accents compliment mighty matchstick blinds. NV-80’s menu is an amalgamation of the Gonçalves’ favourites dishes offering tender Chalmar steaks as well as fresh seafood’, the NV-80 website describes itself.
The interior is spacious, and tables seating up to 120 diners are well-spread out. Tables are metal-top and chairs wood painted black. A central room divider contains greenery, the only decor. Booths are at the far end of the restaurant, where we sat.
Our waiter brought us a bread basket, telling us that the ciabatta is sourced from Stellenbosch baking maestro Schoon, with a branch downstairs in the Point Mall. As I had eaten out for Breakfast as well as Lunch on the same day, I kept my meal very light, ordering the calamari tubes starter (R98), simply presented and delicious. Katie ordered grilled fish and Iggy a steak with chips, proclaiming it to be excellent.
Other starter options are Prawn soup, carpaccio of salmon or beef, sautéed prawns, and Trinchado beef cubes, in a price range of R90 to R120.
Main courses are plentiful to choose from, in categories of Salads (R79 – R96), Grills (steaks, chicken, burger, and lamb cutlets, in a price range of R95 – R290), Shellfish (Prawns, langoustines, and Lobster, all charged SQ), Fish (Grilled Line Fish, Norwegian salmon, and Calamari tubes), and Vegetarian Mushroom Gnocchi (R170).
As I love ice cream I could not resist ordering ice cream, a steal at R18 a scoop. I chose a scoop each of Armagnac, Vanilla, and Strawberry sorbet, absolutely delicious. Other Desserts are Baked Cheesecake, Crème Brûlèe, and Chocolate Fondant, each costing R75.
NV-80 also offers a two course (R250) and three course (R310) Summer Tasting Menu for Lunch and Dinner from Sundays – Thursdays, and for Lunch on Fridays and Saturdays. The Menu offers a choice of four starters (Beef cubed Trinchado, Miso Salmon, Calamari, and Caprese Salad), four main courses (6 Queen prawns, line fish, sirloin with a sauce, and wild mushroom gnocchi), and a choice of chocolate fondant, Crème Brûlée, and Banana Split for dessert.
I noticed the lovely play list of the restaurant, very danceable, and was told that it was compiled by Shaun.
I certainly did not get the complete NV-80 experience in my choice of dishes, but did note the excellent service from our waiter, and will return to do the restaurant better justice.
NV-80 Grill & Bar, 8 The Point Mall, 76 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town. Tel (021) 439-7112. www.nv-80.co.za Facebook. Instagram: @nv80grillandbar Monday – Sunday Lunch and Dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide