Pared-back dining in the heart of Kloof Street.
Breathing new life – and new concepts – into Kloof Street (in the spot previously home to Janse & Co), ëlgr is the brainchild of 27-year-old chef Jesper Nilsson, who spent lockdown conceptualising this moody, effortlessly cool restaurant that peels back from the buzz of Kloof Street to a chilled, plant-filled courtyard.
That Scandinavian style
Taking its cue from minimalist Scandinavian design, ëlgr is dressed in a soothing palette of charcoal, black and pops of sage green. It’s an ultra-Instagrammable visual feast that takes it up a notch by integrating different dining hubs within the restaurant. There’s a straight-off-the-street, sun-filled spot with leather banquettes and easy-on-the-eye curated displays, then diners are drawn deeper into the moodier heart of restaurant past beautifully dressed tables with slate tableware until they emerge into a light-and-plant filled courtyard, complete with a bar, corner sofa, café chairs and tables and a pizza oven. It’s urban, ultra-social and oh so easy on the eye.
The courtyard is perfect for socially distanced dining, while the outdoor bar – with its own custom-built menu of crafted cocktails and rosé on tap – is sure to be a popular haunt this summer.
On the menu
Expect a slew of fresh flavours, plenty of seasonal plant-based offerings and also artisanal pizza. “We designed the menu to make people feel at ease – and also to complement our expertly crafted winelist and artisan-style cocktails,” Jesper explains.
Street-food experiences at ëlgr
Every second week on a Saturday, chef Jesper and the ëlgr team will showcase authentic, easy-eating street food – plus a cocktail – from the country of their choice. Mexico will kick off the proceedings on Saturday, 13 February 2021 at 12pm. “Expect great food, wine, drinks and music in our courtyard,” says Jesper. “Come early and leave late!”
On the Mexican menu:
- two handmade soft corn tacos, with slow-cooked black bean mole and fire-grilled hangar steak, plus homemade salsa (R90)
- frozen margarita (R90)
- wine-pairing: two wines (R90)
- churros (R45)
Jesper and his team have taken great care to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for everyone – waiters and kitchen staff included. The diverse crew are treated like family, and are all salaried employees with the gratuities being shared among every member of the team. It’s of great importance to Jesper, who insists on a family-style lunch for every team member daily and a consecutive two-days-off policy, that his staff are a reflection of a holistic hospitality approach.
The wine and cocktail offerings at ëlgr are equally impressive. The restaurant’s wine cellar is in the capable hands of experienced sommelier Mario Salvato who has gone to great lengths to acquire the best and the most interesting choices available in South Africa, and the cocktail list features seven carefully crafted choices designed with local bar pros SIP. “We want our guests to really feel that every single element at ëlgr is created with intention and the cocktails definitely fall into this category.”
About the chef
Jesper, who grew up in Sweden and relocated to South Africa with his family as a teenager, has created a menu that combines the less-is-more Swedish sensibility with an appreciation for the abundance of fresh local produce in the Cape.
Training with the likes of Richard Carstens, Darren Badenhorst and Arno Janse, and a recently undergoing a stint at the famed Bastard restaurant in Malmö, Sweden, has certainly influenced Jesper’s sharp and considered menu, made up of shared-plate dining, which allows guests to taste more and really experience the variety.
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