If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering what Mångata even means. This wonderfully unique Norwegian word signifies the path-like reflection of the moonlight on water. But in this case, it’s more than a name — it’s the embodiment of a modern and innovative restaurant headed by an ambitious chef with an exceptional vision of his own.
Owner and head chef William Sharp has an interesting history: after studying at the Swiss Hotel School, he was eager to acquire the best experience and skills possible, which he did, working under some top chefs, including Stephen Templeton at the Mount Nelson and the late Bruce Robertson at The Showroom. He then shifted his focus for a few years to a venture called Chefs Recruit. (But that’s another story for another day.)
After living in Simon’s Town for some time, William eventually got “fed up of driving over the mountain for a decent meal”, so when the opportunity to open Mångata presented itself, he put his chef’s jacket back on and set the first of many goals: to become the best restaurant in the area.
A date-night must
The restaurant is easy to find thanks to its beautifully designed banners outside. Once inside (and upstairs), general manager Rachel led us to our harbour-facing table, and our waitress, Hayley, took over from there.
The candlelit interior is warm and welcoming: with old masters-style artworks on the walls, Persian carpets on the floors, and a vase of roses on each table – if you’re looking for a romantic restaurant, you’d do well to make Simon’s Town your destination.
Food imitating art
The menu is modern, creative, and French-inspired, with ample options, making it immensely difficult to decide what to eat (and drink). We chose three starters: tasty cured salmon served with pickled golden beetroot, fried capers and fennel dressing (R95), a deconstructed prawn tian served with a tomato gazpacho, red peppers, courgettes, aubergine, avocado and aioli (R89) and mushroom bruschetta, comprising a wild mushroom ragout and asparagus.
While the first two starters were magnificently presented and delicious, it was the understated bruschetta that impressed us the most: the wild mushrooms and creamy “ragout” combo was perfectly seasoned and so flavourful – I’d never had anything quite like it before.
While waiting for our mains, we stole a moment and braved the wind to take in the gorgeous view from the balcony. Over the rooftops, across the street, the ocean sparkled under the almost-full moon — breathtaking…
When the mains arrived, we were once again amazed by the presentation of the dishes – works of art in their own right. We shared the pork belly, served with lentils, smoked tomato purée, crackling with honey and cider jelly (R150); and the seafood special of the day, a plate of prawn spring rolls, mussels and sesame-seared tuna (R220). As delicious as the pork belly was, after tasting the tuna, I regretted the decision to share… it was fresh and perfectly prepared.
I finished off the meal with one of the best (and, again, beautifully presented) crème brûlées I have ever eaten – the perfect blend of hard caramel and creamy custard-like goodness.
Apart from the lunch and dinner menus, Mångata offers a seven-course tasting menu that can be enjoyed with or without a wine pairing (but be sure to book 48 hours in advance). The restaurant is hosting special Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve menus – contact the restaurant for more information and to book a table.
The good news for those who live nearby is that there’s a hot new restaurant in town, and for those that have to travel over the mountain, know this: the visit is well worth the journey!
Opening times Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 10 pm
Contact 021 786 1635, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Mangata, 98 St Georges Street, Simon’s Town, Cape Town