This online-bookings-only fine-dining restaurant sprang up rather sneakily on Harrington Street when it opened in August 2018. Owner-chef Neil Swart sold his wildly popular Arugula Bistro in Welgemoed to pursue dreams of unhindered culinary creativity, which he has done with co-owner and long-time friend Anouchka Horn in their set-menu dinners that remain secret until you arrive at the restaurant.
The industrio-mod eatery serves a maximum of 20 guests per service, which Neil explains: “Cooking dishes on a smaller scale enhances the depth of flavour of each element.” An entirely exposed kitchen lines one side of the intimate space, with a street-facing window on the other.
“After running a normal, average-sized restaurant for six years, we knew what we didn’t like about that process, and removed it from the equation,” explains Neil. “Then we used what was left to create our concept.” The belly of the beast, says Neil, is the heart of the restaurant, and the inspiration for the name.
Harnessing the differences
Neil and Anouchka met while working part-time at Terroir Restaurant. They became great friends and soon discovered that they also shared similar passions like music, food and philosophy on work and life. “It’s funny how we are very similar and very different at the same time – we believe this makes us a great team.” Neil’s speciality is meat, while Anouchka is the pastry and ice-cream master – making every single batch of ice cream with its own unique base, from scratch.
In keeping with global trends, Belly of the Beast only serves ethically reared animals, using everything – from nose to tail. They don’t believe in waste. The final product is exceptional! For R499, you’re treated to five excellent courses, as well as bread service, a (life-changing) palette cleanser and an after-dessert delight (“a last hurrah”, as Neil calls it). You won’t find value like this anywhere else on the precinct.
Opening times Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday, 7pm – 10pm
Lunch (starting October): Wednesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2pm
Cost R499 per person