Renowned chef Henry Vigar and his wife Mari moved from England to South Africa three years ago. Inspired by the ocean and the “Mayor’s Lady”, a 1920s building, once the mayor of Cape Town’s residence, they set about fulfilling a dream of opening their own restaurant. Undeterred by the three eateries that had already come and gone without a ripple of success, at the same location, La Mouette in a short time established an excellent reputation for its fine dining.
I love the idea of a mid-summer gourmand menu. Somehow, it makes me think of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. It tempts me to finally come and taste what is on offer. This six-course dining experience offers the luxury of a tasting menu at an affordable price. At R295 without wine and R495 paired with wine, it is excellent value. The al fresco-style courtyard with its koi pond and fountain La Mouette is an ideal setting for lingering over an unhurried tasting menu on a balmy, starlit night.
Enclosed inside a thick wall, the sounds of Sea Point faded far away. One piquant course followed another. I enjoyed every nibble, especially the surprising mezze platters with their Middle Eastern flavours of harissa, babaganoush and yogurt. The wine pairings were excellent, all the way to the sweet dessert wine that accompanied the cheese. But the bouillabaisse stood apart. It was truly superb. Rumour has it that chef Vigar, influenced by his French mother, excels at authentic versions of French favourites, from cheese and truffle croquettes to duck rillettes with mushroom brioche or duck confit. This is certainly true, judging by the bouillabaisse.
A visit to La Mouette is not complete without trying the legendary gin-and-tonic jelly dessert served with gin syrup. It’s not on the tasting menu, but beg, borrow or steal to try this uniquely perfumed, delicately delicious pudding.
With winter approaching, there are few nights left to enjoy eating outdoors, but Mari assures me that indoors, with five fireplaces, offers an intimate, elegant dining experience.
La Mouette, 78 Regent Road, Sea Point, 021 433 0856
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