Coco Safar's dessert bar 'dinner': it's like performance art that you can eat
Surprises and delights abound at this Sea Point café, coming soon to Manhattan too
Perched on bar stools at the counter, we embarked on Coco Safar's two-hour-long DBE Culinary Voyage, mesmerised by the performance unfolding before us.
It was a fine-dining dessert bar "dinner" and the two leading roles were played by Spanish executive pastry chef Carmen Rueda — whose impressive pedigree includes working with cheffing giants like Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal — and top South African mixologist Siavash Behaein, better known as Marshall.
Rueda applied the finishing touches to her exquisite creations, working the kitchen tweezers like a seasoned surgeon until each was an artwork. Marshall's alchemy produced a marvel of drinks to match each course. Their dialogue drew us closer.
There were surprising mouthfuls, like the steamed Asian rice flour sponge that sat like a sushi roll in a bamboo steamer. It was soft, light and fluffy, and filled with peanut butter ice cream.
Another, an oyster shell minus the mollusc. This one came with a generous daub of mango and passion fruit sorbet, topped off with slivers of fresh basil. So refreshing.
The two ladies alongside me couldn't contain their excitement, capturing everything on their phones, their commentary dissecting each detail of the dishes and the cocktails.
TAPAS AND TEA
There are so many elements to Coco Safar that it's a lot to swallow in a mouthful.
Behind us in the restaurant we could hear the chatter of diners enjoying tapas (served Wednesday - Saturday from 6pm). Others sat outside at the patisserie savouring pastries and very good coffee.
Across the passage the glass-fronted chocolate studio was still. Gleaming rows of tempting creations sat in the window for all to admire.
There was the whirr of the coffee machines in the coffee and rooibos tea bar, the irresistible aroma wafting through the air.
The world-class coffee and rooibos tea brewery across the passage features tall shiny tanks, hessian bags of coffee beans and rooibos tea, the fridges a rainbow of different naturally flavoured carbonated rooibos tea drinks made on site.
It's obvious that owners Wilhelm Liebenberg and French-Canadian partner Caroline Sirois have vast helpings of international business expertise. Their latest project, a carbon copy of Coco Safar, is opening in Manhattan in 2020.
PS. Did I mention the best croissant I've ever eaten? Try the hazelnut chocolate one, which I enjoyed for breakfast the next day.
• Visit Coco Safar at the Artem Centre, 277 Main Rd, Sea Point. The DBE Culinary Voyage, R1,290pp, is by reservation only; it's available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. See cocosafar.online or call 021-433-1336.