Dark and discreet, the exterior of this restaurant in bustling Kloof Street draws the crowd with it’s immediate reputation for exceptional cuisine. Some claiming that chef Arno Janse van Rensburg cooks the food of the future. Décor is subdued and uncluttered with a beautiful floral mural cheering you up as you enter.
His wife, Liezl, works in operations and runs the back office, “We are a good pairing, making decisions together as we have the same vision.” Some of the kitchen team have joined him from Maison in Franschhoek. “Here we look for what we want to cook, we cater for a different demographic – out of farm life,” says Arno. “Our biggest challenge is coming from an environment surrounded by fresh food, plus the surrounds dictate the flavour profiles. We are still finding where we need to be, changing as we progress. If we get bored then we are not on the right path.”
Arno, who grew up hunting and fishing, loves seafood – like octopus and abalone, for which they have a licence – and vegetables, fruit and seeds. Attention to the seasons is highlighted in dishes like sunchoke, turnip and black garlic, which emphatically demonstrate autumn. Dishes like lamb with fig and nettle sauce showcase winter. Arno works on a vegan-based menu to start, and then adds protein to it. “It’s all about origin – I know what has gone into the ingredient. The care we take, not just in cooking, makes a more intimate dish. People are more in the know than ever before, so a chef needs to know the answers.”
Having worked and travelled all over the world – Australia, most of Europe, Hong Kong, Thailand and Peru and most recently Spain – there is a global influence in his cuisine. “I like the freedom of cooking, the freedom of expression – I’m experimental. We learn more from failure.” You can start with a two, three, four or five-course lunch menu with scrumptious desserts, and a few more courses for dinner.
“We have no signature anything, rather concentrating on having different combinations.” Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg
Address: 75 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001
Phone: 021 422 0384