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Restaurant Review

The Bailey is a new, considered space with something for every taste

Spread out over three levels, The Bailey in Cape Town boasts a café, patisserie, champagne bar, classic French brasserie and sophisticated whiskey bar

24 July 2022 - 00:00
Café Bailey, the ground floor café, patisserie and champagne bar.
Café Bailey, the ground floor café, patisserie and champagne bar.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

When chef and restaurateur Liam Tomlin of Chefs Warehouse fame announces a new venture it’s bound to create a stir within the foodie community. When this venture comes in the form of a high-end, three-level undertaking, the stirring becomes a buzz.

The Bailey, which opened last month on Cape Town’s Bree Street, was born out of the partnership and success of Chefs Warehouse Tintswalo Atlantic which opened in late 2020 at the height of Covid and was voted Africa’s Best New Restaurant in the 2021 World Culinary Awards.

The deep emerald colour of the heritage building with its dark, wooden door and window frames makes for an entrance of understated elegance. Step inside and the ground level becomes elegance personified with its original mirror-adorned walls, grand chandelier, high ceiling, elegant seating and table settings, and strikingly beautiful natural light.

CAFÉ BAILEY

Inspired by the classic, grand European café along the likes of The Wolseley, one of Tomlin’s favourite restaurants in London, Café Bailey is the ground floor café, patisserie and champagne bar where breakfast, lunch, dinner and high tea are served.

With what Tomlin describes as a “feminine” feel, he wanted this space to be comfortable for the whole family, yet “grown up” enough for pre- and post-theatre drinks and eats, stylish celebrations and business lunches carried out with flair.

More importantly, he’s designed the offering for locals — the people who carried the restaurant industry through Covid — and promises something for everyone where you can have coffee or caviar; Coke or Champagne.

The entrance to Café Bailey on Bree Street.
The entrance to Café Bailey on Bree Street.
Image: Sam Linsell
Confit duck leg with carrots, leeks, baby onions and jus gras.
Confit duck leg with carrots, leeks, baby onions and jus gras.
Image: Sam Linsell

The takeaway counter serves fresh pastries and sandwiches from 7am daily and, apart from afternoon tea, the menu is laden with lush breakfasts, high-end crustacean options, salads, soups, sandwiches and warm specialities such as seared tuna, steak tartare and a savoury soufflé.

Twenty-five-year-old head chef Jacques Grové previously worked at Chefs Warehouse Beau Constantia, Foxcroft and La Colombe before being promoted from senior sous chef at Chefs Warehouse Tintswalo Atlantic to take up the reins at The Bailey.

So popular is the Confit Chicken Leg that I had to try it. Served with carrots, leeks, baby onions and a hearty jus gras, it is melt-off-the-bone tender. I also had a taste of the chef’s special for the day, a succulent pork belly with the crispiest crackling — executed with perfection and served with delightful elements of apple.

The final flourish was one of my favourites: the perfect serving of crème brûlée. Rich without being overbearing, it was bursting with notes of vanilla and the daintiest caramelised crust.

THE BRASSERIE

Trained in classical French cuisine and drawing from a time when restaurants were owned by a maître d’, Tomlin wanted to put the glamour and theatre back into restaurants with the Brasserie on the first floor.

Open for lunch and dinner, the menu consists of continental dishes finished with a helping from the crepe suzette, cake and cheese trolleys. In time, you can come to expect waiters to cook at your table.

Round off your meal with a crepe suzette.
Round off your meal with a crepe suzette.
Image: Sam Linsell
The Brasserie on the first floor.
The Brasserie on the first floor.
Image: Sam Linsell

Supporting local is important with 75% local wines on the wine list — which will be expanding in time — but there is a selection of French wines to tie in with the classic, French-style brasserie.

For an intimate setting, a private dining room in memory of late SA artist Paul du Toit will soon be available for bookings.

THE OLD BAILEY WHISKEY BAR

With its own street entrance and lift, The Old Bailey, a sophisticated whiskey bar and lounge, is the crown jewel of this undertaking. Described by Tomlin as a “forever 30 bar”, it offers the kind of space where you can sink back into plush armchairs, enjoy a nibble from the kitchen, animated conversation and table service with the (imagined) youth and vigour of a 30-year-old.

With 320 whiskeys from 14 countries there is something for everyone, but for serious collectors with a refined palate there are 68 cabinets of different sizes and price points for private collections.

Bathed in sunlight from when it opens in the afternoon, there’s also a rooftop terrace and cigar nook.

A striking piano taking pride of place in the centre of the floor has already proven to be an alluring source of entertainment for the occasional guest. In time, Tomlin plans on offering the space to young students from music academies.

'CONSIDERED' IS THE WORD

To sum up the three floors, the word I’d choose is “considered”. This is not only evident in the suits worn by managers, elegant white jackets donned by the barmen, and waiters drifting past in waistcoats, but in the art that has been carefully collected and curated.

Much of the art comes from Tomlin’s personal collection and each piece has a story to tell. Frequenters of the closed-down brasserie and bar The Stack will discover the familiar face of Fred, the colourful wildebeest bust made from recycled flip flops that Tomlin acquired at an auction and has now rehomed in The Old Bailey.

The Old Bailey whiskey bar.
The Old Bailey whiskey bar.
Image: Sam Linsell

Tomlin says he will keep adding to and growing the art collection while supporting local artists as much as possible.

But, above all, what’s been managed well is the creation of a space for everyone, or a space that will give you more than a single reason to visit.

Find The Bailey on 91 Bree Street in Cape Town. Bookings are available via Dineplan or 021 773 0440. Café Bailey is open from 7am to 9pm Monday to Saturday, the Brasserie is open for lunch from 12pm to 2.30pm and for dinner from 6pm to 9pm Monday to Saturday, and The Old Bailey is open from 3pm to late Monday to Friday and from 5pm to late Saturday.


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