Restaurant Review: Bouchon Bistro and Wine Bar offers a European taste of Cape Town!


imageBouchon Bistro and Wine Bar opened inside Dorrance Cellar on Hout Street late last year, as a joint venture between Christophe Durand, owner of Dorrance Cellar, and Faisal Khakoo of La Boheme in Sea Point. It is unlike any other Cape Town restaurant, with a strong European flair in its food and wines served.

A board at the entrance informs that Bouchon comes from Lyon. It describes the space as a unique concept of two wine lists, one international and the other local, available by the glass. They are complemented by ‘fresh, seasonal and diverse regional produces’. It emphasises that simplicity and quality are key.

A former underground storage area has been converted into a restaurant, seating about 40 patrons, at tables of two, a table for eight in an alcove, and an even longer table in the wine cellar itself, for special groups. The interior is dark grey, and an open kitchen counter is visible to patrons, with a food preparation area hidden from view. Tables are made of wood, with strong paper serviettes, brown paper sheets over a material tablecloth, a candle in a glass, Saint Tropez cutlery, unbranded salt and pepper grinders, and St Sebastian Bay extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar offered.

The menu is Tapas-dominated, with only two or three main courses.image I have been to Bouchon on a number of occasions, liking its quick service pop-in feel on the way to a concert or elsewhere. When I popped in a week ago, I was delighted that their crispy salt and pepper calamari with fried capers was back on the menu, served with a good tartar sauce (R55), after it had been taken off the menu and was replaced with kingklip for a while. Even more impressive was the manager Cheslyn Cassiem proactively confirming that I wanted water, the calamari, and a dry cappuccino! One does not see service at this level in Cape Town very often. Furthermore, they had lovely salsa music playing, giving the restaurant a European feel. Marcello the waiter is from Italy, with some odd ‘lost in translation’ moments. Katherine has worked as a waitress for almost a month. Some nights Christophe is on duty, and he speaks with a French accent.  This adds to the cosmopolitan feel of the Bistro.

imageOn arrival one receives a complimentary platter of flatbread with hummus, and olive tapenade. Other items on the Tapas menu include Caprese salad (R55,50), beef cubes with béarnaise sauce (R62,50), pork rillettes and gherkin (R56,50), Patatas Bravas with chorizo (R48,50), duck springrolls and hoisin sauce (R58,50), Artichoke and pea risotto with truffle oil (R58,50), Beef Tataki (R58,50), imagerabbit, chorizo, and prawn paella (R80), white anchovy and coppa salad (R68,50), grilled Cajun spiced sardines (R60), bruschetta with cream cheese (R60), seared sirloin with onion marmalade (R120), and ostrich bobotie phyllo parcel with tomato salsa (R62,50).

Main course options are limited to Norwegian salmon with new potatoes, three bean salad, bean sprouts, and saffron sauce (R190); balsamic beef fillet with mushroom risotto and mushroom sauce (R175); and slow-roasted lamb shoulder with potato purée, roasted vegetables, and mint jus (R175).

imageThe international wine list is changed regularly, and can include a Champagne Palmer Brut Reserve at R600 per bottle, a Spanish Toto Albala Pedro Ximenez 1983 wine at R60 per glass, a Greek Nohos white blend at R65 per glass, and a French sparkling cider at R216 per bottle and R54 per glass. Foie gras with onion marmalade is offered at R120, a portion having generously been sent to our table when I visited there in December with Tony Ward and a group of friends.

Bouchon Bistro and Wine Bar is a hidden gem in the Cape Town city centre, offering food and wines at very reasonable prices, despite a price increase this week, and good service with European flair. Parking is usually available on Hout Street.

Bouchon Bistro and Wine Bar, Dorrance Cellar, 95 Hout Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-0695. Twitter: @Bouchon_CT Monday – Saturday from 16h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog:  Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here


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5 replies on “Restaurant Review: Bouchon Bistro and Wine Bar offers a European taste of Cape Town!”

  1. Chris, i visited this place on Monday based on your recommendation, the place was empty 2 tables and this was at 7.30pm…service was friendly, we had to ask for water and when they took our bread board they didnt ask us if we wanted more,

    Food was very good , really the only major disapointment was the wine list, considering its pitching itself as a french bistro wine bar the list was shocking 1 choice of Sauv by the glass and standard boring wines that you see anywhere.

    If you see the wine list at la boeme the owners other place i just cant seem to figure out what went wrong here ? without a good wine list it simply doesnt have a selling point compared to other places…lesson is dont call yourself a wine bar when the wine list just doesnt hit the mark, its pretending to be something its not a common issue with restaurants in Cape Town

  2. Sehr geehrte Frau von Ulmenstein,

    kann es sein,dass sie eine Verwandte von Wendula von Ulmenstein sind? Ich bin eine alte Freundin von ihr aus Göttinger und Bremer Zeiten und suche sie. Haben Sie
    eine Adresse oder Telefonnummer?

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
    Barbara Bigott

  3. Sehr geehrte Frau von Ulmenstein,

    gerade habe ich erst Ihr “reply” entdeckt. Sorry, dass so viel Zeit verstrichen ist. Wendula habe ich leider
    noch immer nicht aufspüren können. Und ihr Exmann Friedel ist verstorben. Auch Majas und Philipps Verbleib kenne ich nicht. Ich würde mich sehr freuen, wenn Sie mir einen Hinweis geben könnten.
    Sie fragten, wie Sie mich erreichen können? Unter:
    Tel.: 05504-9377293
    Barbara Bigott
    Am Lindenberg 31
    37133 Friedland / Hann.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
    Barbara Bigott

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