Table Seven: A Private-Dining Venue in Salt River

Table Seven: A Private-Dining Venue in Salt River All images: Sam Linsell

Relaxed and intimate fine-dining without the pitfalls of tedious trend and gratuitous gastronomic ego.

Situated in Salt River’s most-recently gentrified artisan hub, Table Seven is the love child of chef Luke Wonnacott and his wife (and former chef) Katie, who are soon-to-be first-time parents.

Luke and Katie both come with lorry loads of culinary experience, most notably a stint at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze at the One&Only, where they met! Luke also served as head chef at Ossiano at Atlantis in Dubai.

Relaxed and generous fine-dining

The new venture finds, perhaps, its greatest utility in its versatility – it’s just as suited to a convivial Sunday lunch for the extended family as it is to a business dinner or special celebration.

The space presents as a blank – albeit industrial-chic – canvas, which in no way suggests it’s spartan or bland. A great chunk of refectory table facilitates conversation and bonhomie effortlessly, allowing the gathered group to put their own stamp on the experience.

The Gastronomy of transparency

What then would you expect to eat in such a setting? Playing subtly in the background is a menu that ticks all of the au courant boxes: seasonal, local and consciously sourced produce of the highest quality; techniques and applications under the influence – but free of the excessive burdens – of modernist gastronomy.

When a menu item, such as a single oyster, headlines the menu, it is oyster you get – nevermind the light smoke, pesto, seaweed granité and oyster jelly with which it was garnished.

Table Seven Catering
Oyster with pesto, seaweed granité and oyster jelly

In a similar vein, the next course of wood-fired baguette, and a board of ravishing nibbly tapas – orange-and-rosemary-marinated olives, chorizo piperade (roasted red-pepper purée in the Basque manner), duck rillette, and a tin of tiny Spanish sardines – provided the sexiest sandwiches and savouries imaginable. I would go back for the piperade alone.

Table Seven Salt River
Orange-and-rosemary-marinated olives and Spanish sardines

Table Seven Restaurant Salt River
Burrata, nectarine, Parma ham, lavender vinaigrette and basil

Next on the tasting menu was the deceptively simply billed “grilled octopus with sauce vierge”. It delivered the tongue-gasm that everybody who loves octopus seeks, usually in vain: meltingly tender, but still rewardingly chewy and kissed by the grill. Not only is it extremely hard to achieve, it also depends on the finest produce. This offering evoked that mythical beach in Greece, and I could’ve eaten a platter of it. I will be returning for this, too. Chef-patron Luke, take note (cephalopods, beware!).

Salt River Restaurants
Grilled octopus with sauce vierge

Following shortly, a perfect single raviolo of butternut and goat’s cheese with fresh peas and pickled waterblommetjie was an ode to seasonal vegetable cooking, and a strong nod to Puglia and Umbria – common produce elevated to stellar levels.

Table Seven Restaurant Cape Town
Butternut and goats cheese ravioli

Again, while plant-based, meatless cooking is becoming increasingly trendy – indeed urgent – this delighted the palate in every way without feeling worthy or earnest. I wish that the word vegetarian were to disappear from the vocabulary to be replaced by vegetable cooking of which this is an exemplar.

Chef Luke published his manifesto in his penultimate, main course. Bearing in mind what had come before, kudos to him that this was devoured with alacrity by the already well-fed group. Saffron and orange-glazed lamb shoulder, the true connoisseur’s cut, was simple and impeccable. That it was paired with a lamb shank, which dematerialised when you breathed on it, bears testimony to Luke’s rock-solid technique, but also his desire to give his patrons a good feed. Gastronomy and generosity are hallmarks of a real chef.

Table Seven answers the question: where should we go? I shall be returning for many reasons: the warmth, the sensible novelty and, not least, the excellent food.

What I will expect is that Luke will have upped his game when it comes to pudding. For, while the vanilla panna cotta shortcrust tart was perfectly credible, and sported a top-drawer blueberry jelly, it would have not gone amiss at aunt’s Sunday tea – nice but not memorable in a menu which lingers with me taste by taste.

He redeemed himself, however, with madeleines worthy of Proust, and saw us off billing and cooing. Encore! Bravo!

Good to know Table Seven is open weekdays for lunch. On the menu are two dishes of the day – which change daily – that diners can enjoy around the kitchen counter. There are also plans to open a deli. Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll keep you posted.