Friday, March 10, 2017

A look at Heritage Square, Cape Town

On our wedding anniversary last Wednesday, I had an hour to kill between doing my bit at a casting in Loop St and meeting Lynne at The Chef's Warehouse for a celebratory lunch. It had been a while since we had visited any of the fine collection of food and wine venues in this historic square complex, so I stuck my lens into a few corners. It is a collection of eighteenth century buildings which came frighteningly close to being demolished to make way for a freeway in the 1990s. The quadrangle in the middle of the square is the home of what is believed to be the oldest grape vine in the country, possibly planted in the 1770s

The marquee over the door of Bizerca, a great French fusion restaurant run by Laurent Deslandes and his wife Cyrillia. We had heard that they had closed, so I decided to take a look
 Inside the square, everything looked normal and all Bizerca's tables were ready for lunch but I heard, a little later, that they will close at the end of March, very sad and regrettable. We have had some memorable meals there and at their original venue behind the tax man's office
Reasons will, certainly, become apparent in due course
Just across the square is Dorrance, Christophe Durand's small centre city winery and restaurant. The inner square entrance takes one into Christophe's small wine shop, where he has an interesting range of his own wines and the wines he imports from sources around the world as well as other delights including a very good Calvados 
The entrance to the restaurant, Bouchon Wine Bar & Bistro, is off Hout Street, on the other side of the square 
It is run in collaboration with Faisal Khakoo of Sea Point's popular bistro La Bohème. It is only open in the evenings and has a comprehensive tapas menu which is changed frequently to keep fresh and seasonal
The wine list on the board has some interesting wines from other countries, all imported by Christophe, including excellent Greek wines made by Gaia in Santorini from Assyrtiko and Agiorgitiko
Before the premises became a restaurant, they housed a foundry where interesting ironwork was produced using traditional methods. The foundry's old press makes an interesting display case in the middle
Christophe's small winery has his wine maturing in barrels (he also imports and sells barrels) and his fermentation tanks
A section of the winery shows some of the building's history in its wall
Jean Vincent Ridon has his Signal Hill winery and shop in a small space just inside the Shortmarket Street entrance. Jean Vincent had just stepped off the plane from France, bringing a streaming cold with him, so it would not have been fair or kind  to photograph him
But how many large cities, anywhere, can boast of two French winemakers making wine in an 18th century precinct in the city centre
 It must be one of the smallest wine production facilities in the world
 HQ is, in their words a "Parisian-inspired steakhouse / bar / lounge"
We haven't visited it, but the menu shows sirloin steak, tapas, beers, cocktails and wines. It was too early for the lunch time traffic, but they were ready
 Outside, in Hout Street, I went to see Savoy Cabbage, an old favourite
 but they were closed for lunch. There is a huge building project across the street which must be very disruptive for them and for Bouchon Wine Bar & Bistro
 Round the corner in Buitenkant is I Love my Laundry, 
"a unique concept offering laundry, dry cleaning, dyeing, alterations and ironing services, as well as serving JOGA JOGA Brazilian coffee and sweet treats. It is also home to I Love My Wine, a platform for promoting hospitality brands in an intimate experience around a dining room table"
 and next to them, the Boston Brewery has a tiny bar
with a simple menu
 The Africa Cafe has probably been in Heritage Square longer than anyone else
It offers a tapas style menu featuring traditional dishes from all over Africa
 The entrance is in Shortmarket Street
 Just before the Bree Street corner is a branch of Simply Thai, who produce good simple Thai food in several venues round Cape Town. The young lady beat a hasty retreat when she saw my camera
 And then it was time to go round the corner to meet my lovely wife, 
more about which you'll find here
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