We’re not name-droppers per se, but it’s virtually impossible not to be impressed by the illustrious board of directors at Gardens Collectors Club, a brand-new watering hole on Kloof Street, whose first-class selection of craft beer and artisanal alcohol is also worth writing home about!
They don’t make influencers like they used to
But first let’s chat about the distinguished board, whose names are inscribed at the back of the old-school menus. Among some of the greatest sea captains, spies, cartographers and cosmonauts the world has ever seen, the list of directors includes Sir Francis Drake, the explorer and naval officer who described our beloved Cape as “…the fairest… in the whole circumference of the earth”; writer and archaeologist Gertrude Bell; and Roald Amundsen, leader of the Antarctic expedition that reached the South Pole in 1911.
Indeed, such is the awesomeness of this amiable alehouse that these remarkable characters decided they simply had to participate in this venture, even if it meant overcoming the slight inconvenience of being dead!
Great food. Better Company
Housed in the space that was previously home to the buzzy Chalk & Cork, the new restaurant is a laidback venue, well-suited to social gatherings, with a wonderfully cheery old-school sports club theme. Think vintage team photographs on the walls, a green felt noticeboard at the entrance announcing upcoming community events, and other fabulously nostalgic paraphernalia dotted around.
Chalk & Cork’s previous proprietors, Amy and Marc Botes, have stayed on as co-owners of GCC (as it’s affectionately known), bringing with them a wealth of restaurant-industry experience. Marc worked at the acclaimed Buitenverwachting, and served as head sommelier at two of for Gordon Ramsay London restaurants, while Amy has worked with Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and spent time as a general manager for the Salt Yard Group.
At GCC, they’re very eager to welcome “new friends and old souls”.
Wet Your Whistle
Tiptop beer (and a superlative selection of spirits) is, unashamedly, the main event here. Says Marc: “Our beer selection is diverse in its offering and complexity. We’ve taken the liberty of carefully curating this array of libations for you. All you need to do is relax and enjoy.”
Expect an array of Devil’s Peak ales, lagers and stouts, as well as a range of local and international beauties, such as Amundsen Pilsener, Mikkeleller Capenhagen India Pale Ale, Fokof Lager and Little Wolf Saison, among many others.
The wine list (curated in partnership with Ex Animo Wine Co) features gems such as Alheit Vineyards chenin blanc and Julien Schaal chardonnay. And the cocktail menu pulls out all the stops too, with items such as Paloma of Karoo (Karoo agave spirit, grapefruit, soda); Gardens Negroni (Bloedlemoen Gin, campari, capertif); and the Collectors Old Fashioned (rum, bitters).
Jolly Good Fare
Though imbibing is most certainly what you’re here for, the food on offer is nothing to sneeze at.
Chef Zunaid Gangat has designed a finger-licking selection of mains, sides and desserts to accompany and complement the excellent selection of tipples.
And like the decor, the menu has been carefully considered, from the ingredients used (fresh, local and seasonal, obviously) to the variety on offer.
The pizzas – made with a sourdough base – are nothing short of exceptional; the chicken wings, served with a yoghurt-and-herb dip and Zunaid’s beautiful homemade pickles (to cut through the spiciness) are ridiculously moreish; as is the crispy calamari starter. If you’re looking for something more substantial, we recommend the bone-marrow burger (a 200g free-range, grass-fed Frankie Fenner patty), served with shoestring fries that have been tossed in the marrow oil; or the beer-battered hake tacos – which, at R90 for three large portions, is brilliant value!
Vegetarians, pescetarians, Banters and sweet teeth are all catered for beautifully, with options of a vegetarian burger, a variety of mussel, shrimp and fish dishes, cauliflower-base pizzas and desserts on offer.
So, if you’re looking for an evening of revelry, complete with exceptional beer, great food and better company, look no further than this fine establishment. “Membership is open to all,” declares a sign at the door, even landlubbers.