The international Time Out Market has a new home in Cape Town
The latest Time Out Market to open did so in Cape Town this month and it's a foodie's dream destination. Here's what to expect
Lisbon, New York, Boston, Montreal, Chicago, Dubai ... welcome Cape Town as your newest culinary comrade and host of the international Time Out Market. It's a deserving inclusion, but unsurprisingly so, given no other foodie destination is as “on brand” right now as the Mother City. Not only is it on any traveller’s bucket-list, ranking as one of the world’s most beautiful cities and having Table Mountain as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but it's also garnered quite the reputation as an epicurean epicentre.
About a year ago, Time Out Market was first rumoured to be making its way here. If the other markets were anything to go by, it was clear there had to be some big culinary names in the line-up. The concept, as their website says, “pick[s] out the best chefs, bartenders and cultural goings-on from across the city. Then we bring them all together under one roof to create an IRL [in real life] tasting menu of the very best stuff in town.”
There are no less than 13 kitchens at their newest location within Cape Town’s bustling V&A waterfront, all of them headed up by impressive chefs from distinguished establishments or buzzworthy newcomers to the food scene. Seats at these kitchen tables also offer some of the best views of Table Mountain, all while you sip a curated cocktail or sample an artisanal ale from any of the four bars.
Certainly, this new hub of scrumptiousness brings together the city’s finest. If for this reason alone, Cape Town must be added to your next destination foodie adventures.
Here’s what to expect, and also some of what we managed to get our hands on.
TRIED AND TESTED
From the massively successful Fyn restaurant, Peter Tempelhoff, Ashley Moss and Jennifer Hugé bring us Ramenhead. The trio’s CV is illustrious, with Fyn winning a 3-star rating at South Africa’s 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards last week, long before The World’s 50 Best Restaurants had already ranked it the 37th best restaurant in the world and best in Africa in June this year. This is your opportunity to finally enjoy (for those times you tried but have never been able to find a seat at the establishment of the same name, just below Fyn in Cape Town CBD) some of the sweet, sour and spicy flavours of exquisitely prepared ramen. Expect a flavour-bomb broth paired with the perfect noodle — as we did with the Tori Chintan, a light broth of chicken with soy sauce.
De Vrije Burger
If you haven’t yet been to chef and TV personality Bertus Basson’s burger establishment of the same name in Stellies, this is your chance to try some of the best burgers around. With an arsenal of accomplished eateries to his name, including Chorus and Eike with an impressive 1-star, and Spek & Bone with an outstanding 2-star rating at the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards 2023, De Vrije Burger offers mouth-watering free-range beef burgers served on home-made butter buns. For the classic cheese, mustard and pickle combo, the Die Bennie Griessel burger is a sure crowd pleaser. All burgers are grilled to medium, so expect them to be super, super juicy.
How Bao Now
Behind How Bao Now are chefs Matt van den Berg and Carla Schulze. Van den Berg is a former senior sous-chef at the coveted 3-star rated La Colombe, also the best restaurant in South Africa for 2023 at the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards, and has partnered with Schulze, the executive chef at the uber-glam Salon in Woodstock, which also took home an acclaimed 2-star rating at the awards in 2023. This is evident in the precision of cotton-wool-like bao with crispy hake, pickled red onion, Thai red curry dressing, and nuac cham which is all utterly divine. It’s a must try, even for non-fish lovers.
Italian chef Giorgio Nava’s Carne is a legacy brand in Cape Town. Since opening in 2008, Carne has been a steak-lover’s dream, and that’s no different here. The spinach and ricotta ravioli topped with browned butter, crispy sage and Parmesan is hands-down some of the best pasta we’ve eaten. This was a testament to skilled Italian craftsmanship gained from years and years of experience. Che buono!
Celebrity chef Siba Mtongana is iconic and has often been said to be South Africa’s own Nigella Lawson. With the restaurant Siba winning the Eat Out Woolworths Trailblazer Award in 2023, you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy the sticky chicken winglets and salsa mayo, alongside her famous chakalaka, which is a firm favourite in her repertoire.
For the best Neapolitan-style pizza in town, Yard has always been the right answer. Pizza maestro Eugene Smith takes that same legendary dough to the market. There is simply no comparison and nothing is quite like their Margherita — fresh basil, gooey Mozzarella, a charred crust that still has pillows of fluffiness ... and all that drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. I die!
Chef Hitesh Panchal and sons are no strangers to the market scene, having made a name for themselves with the massively popular puri at the old Maker’s Landing at the other end of the V&A. The crispy hollow filled pastry with spiced potatoes, chickpeas and lentils topped with a coriander and mint chutney and a tamarind chutney served with chilled spiced water is their ultimate success story and an essential must-try.
MLILO Fires of Africa
Under the direction of chef Vusi Ndlovu is another sizzler hot off his victory lap at the Eat Out Awards in 2023’s Retail Capital Best New Restaurant, Boma on Bree. He now turns to Mlilo, the modern-day shisanyama. Think charred corn and thinly cut beef katchumbari (tomato and onion salad) from Nairobi, chicken wings with pepe (an indigenous tropical African spice) and the South African braai plate with beef chuck/lamb chops, chicken wings and boerewors.
Founder Yann Rey gained huge international street cred when Unframed went from a local favourite to the world’s best ice-cream from The 50 Best Ice Cream Parlours In The World in 2019. The addition of any of those delicious scoops atop a waffle is the perfect sweet ending. Flavours usually vary seasonally but a personal fave of mine is to do the Speculoos scoop on a waffle with their home-made caramel sauce. Secret’s out!
STILL ON OUR MUST-TRY LIST
Chef Shin Takagi is a two-star Michelin restaurant owner in Kanazawa, Japan who is teaming up with Peter Tempelhoff (of Ramenhead) to bring a luxurious Sushi Bar with respected Japanese fermentation and pickling techniques to the market. We were stoked at the idea of trying anything “Michelin Star” — as was everyone else.
The Melting Pot Seafood
Chef John van Zyl has been consistently drawing crowds into the Elgin Valley where the 1-star Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards 2023-rated Melting Pot has been serving elevated home-cooking with insanely delicious food combinations since it opened a few years ago. This time, it’s his take on seafood and the delicious and meticulous flavour that’s eponymous with The Melting Pot. We love it in Elgin, and no doubt we’ll love it here too, so we’ll have to be back. Word on the street is that the tuna sashimi with fermented black bean dressing, coconut and mint is simply beyond words.
What’s any market without coffee? Way back when coffee was not even a thing, Joel Singer was already co-founder of Origin Coffee, a now household name that pioneered artisanal coffee into the mainstream spotlight almost 20 years ago. At the market, Nosh Café is the only kitchen to open up for brekkie, and the coffee on offer is any connoisseur’s dream. Here you get Cape Town’s very best — so grab a cuppa and a croissant (or a bagel or a baguette).
Chef Anwar Abdullatief is undoubtedly Cape Town’s happiest uncle as his restaurant Happy Uncle in Salt River suggests. Having single-handedly elevated Halaal home-cooking into the closely-guarded and fiercely competitive fine-dining space, it’s no surprise he and Happy Uncle earned the Eat Out Valpré Rising Star Award of 2023. At Barakat, together with celebrity chef, popular TV personality and wife Yolani Abrahams, the duo received the ultimate praise from Time Out as epitomising authentic indigenous flavours: “From slow-braised osso buco to traditional tomato bredie, Barakat shares the flavours and fables of the Cape’s home-grown culinary identity”. As the locals do, give the samosas a try. There’s masala steak and crispy onion, potato, cheese and dhania and the smoked snoek and apricot. Finish it off with some koesisters and wash it all down with boeber!
Until you're next in Cape Town, you can check the market out on Instagram.
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