From the team behind Sea Point’s famed La Mouette comes Upper Bloem, a thoroughly modern fine-dining eatery on the Green Point strip. The menu – inspired by head chef André Hill’s childhood memories (growing up on Upper Bloem Street in the Bo Kaap) – is a journey of “flavours, spices, textures, colours, inspiration and nostalgia” says co-owner and chef Henry Vigar, who helped André achieve his vision.
Presented as nine shared plates (over three courses), the menu is a steal at R395 per person. Each plate is unfathomably superb – a symphony of wonderfully familiar yet utterly fresh and exciting tastes and textures.
Says British-born Henry (with a wry grin): “Cape Town, as we all know, is the southernmost city in Europe, and many of our restaurants reflect that. At Upper Bloem, we wanted to showcase and celebrate authentic South African cuisine, which I think we’ve done through André’s menu.”
André reiterates Henry’s sentiments: “Partnering with Henry is like coming home,” he says. “I’m getting to cook the kind of food I grew up on. So often, we’re looking beyond our shores for culinary inspiration, but we have everything we need right here.”
Tirelessly buoyant and bubbly co-owner Mari Vigar offers a bit of behind-the-scenes insight. “It’s been an interesting few months,” she laughs. “We signed the lease four months ago, and in that time we had to hire staff, redesign the interiors, devise a menu, and, and, and. All that with a four-month-old baby and a three-year-old at home! Luckily, our other baby, La Mouette is eight years old, and kind of fends for itself!”
Bo Kaap zing
The refined dishes are original and exciting and, most importantly, taste divine. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect from the winter menu:
Smoked snoek croquettes with apple purée and teriyaki glaze
Cured kabeljou with sago crisp and pickled radish
Cape Malay-style pickled aubergine with caramelised onion
Tandoori carrots with whipped goat’s milk yoghurt and candied black rice
Saldanha Bay mussels with spekboom, samphire, parsley oil and sea essence
“Kabaab”: marinated beetroot salad with pumpkin seeds and beetroot ketchup
Third (main) course
Spiced duck breast with quince, samoosa crisp and salted radishes
Greenfields Farm beef short rib with salt-baked celeriac, sweetbreads, tongue and apple
Triple-cooked potatoes with Muizenberg sour figs, curry sauce, burnt chard and bhaji powder
With provenance of ingredients taking centre stage globally, we love that André and co have listed the source of some menu items! Sour figs from Muizies, anyone?
Echoing the menu, the curry-coloured 40-seater restaurant – dressed in shades of brown, rust and mustard – were designed by Cape Town maestro Liam Mooney, and are as delicious and inspiring as the food.
The wonderfully local, well-edited wine list tours the Cape from the Cederberg to the Swartland, with some delightfully unexpected gems, such as Botanica Mary Delany (from Citrusdal) thrown in. And, like at La Mouette, service is warm, friendly and knowledgeable.
The desert board (R195 for two) is not included in the tasting menu but is an amusing – and decidedly cloying – denouement to a superb meal.
Opening times Wednesday – Saturday (lunch and dinner)