Restaurant Review

Seafood & Middle Eastern spices are a winning combo at Cape Town's Bilboa

This chic restaurant is a welcome addition to the Camps Bay strip, writes Kit Heathcock

13 February 2018 - 00:00 By Kit Heathcock
Bilboa's terrace offers knock-out views.
Bilboa's terrace offers knock-out views.
Image: Supplied

Visiting Camps Bay, there are two things you expect from a restaurant: uninterrupted beach views and fresh seafood. Bilboa, upstairs in The Promenade centre, obliges on both accounts, but has put a refreshing spin on the formula thanks to an affinity for Middle Eastern spices.

There’s harissa paste with the olive oil for dunking bread, a sprinkling of dukkah and sumac in various dishes, and a nod to South America with chimichurri featured in the steak section too.

It was a sultry summer day when we visited for lunch, the open terrace catching the occasional sea breeze. It was a day for light fresh flavour and the ice bar was the perfect place to find it.

You can order any of the displayed fish plain-grilled with olive oil, garlic and preserved lemon or go for the creative specialities, where the chef has dreamed up taste combinations to intrigue. Light and unfussy, no heavy sauces or unnecessary frills, they’re layered with complementary flavours.

Red drum sea bass with clams, tomatoes, olives and herbs.
Red drum sea bass with clams, tomatoes, olives and herbs.
Image: Supplied

Capers, za’atar and fresh herbs gave a punchy zest to an otherwise delicate whole sole, a generous portion indeed. My red drum sea bass with clams, tomatoes, olives and herbs was perfectly cooked with a simple Mediterranean appeal.  

As well as our included sides of fries or baby potatoes sprinkled with garlic and spices, we went for one of the salad bowls to share. It would have made a good light lunch on its own, heaped with fresh leaves, asparagus spears and green beans, and dollops of a beautifully fresh and creamy goat’s cheese.

There’s a quirky kick to the desserts, and Bilboa isn’t too grand to humour the chocoholics among us.

We chose both chocolate options, each a rich tapestry of flower petals and fun. I loved the gilded salted hazelnuts and coffee ice cream served with the first, an intense baked chocolate. The strawberry coulis that accompanied the second, a deconstructed dark chocolate cake supporting a scoop of white chocolate mousse, was also a delight.

If you’re in the mood for something more casual, pop in upstairs at the Chinchilla Rooftop Bar, where an affordable bar snack menu is served in laidback lounge seating with the same fabulous views.

This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guides. Visit