The first time I went to Rhodes Memorial Restaurant a few years ago, it was pouring with rain and my friend and I sat close to the fire and dined on curry whilst sipping red wine. It was all rather delicious and cosy. Since then I heard reports that it had gone into slight decline and felt a little sad as it seemed like such a wonderful little place. But in 2011 Bernard and Jessica Lyon took over the restaurant and I was told that things have changed. It was time to investigate.
My first experience was an autumn morning breakfast gathering with a group of girlfriends. The sun was shining and we opted to sit outside under an umbrella at a table with a view over Cape Town. We were delighted to see that we could get a breakfast for R35, including toast. It was so enjoyable that we found ourselves ordering another round of tea and coffee and simply enjoying the company, the sunny day and the view. The restaurant filled up with couples and families who clearly had the same thought. Children played in the playground and dogs were treated to biscuits out of a giant biscuit jar. We finished our breakfast meeting close to lunch-time and worked it off with a walk down the stairs of Rhodes Memorial, vowing to make this a frequent affair.
A few weeks later I went back for lunch with another friend, this time on cold winter’s day. Believe it or not, we ended up sitting exactly where I had sat the very first time I visited. The fire was blazing, there were rose petals strewn on the table and piles of blankets available in case you were really feeling the cold. We both opted for the pea and sausage soup which was accompanied by toasted ciabatta and butter. This was followed by a lamb tagine for me and ostrich bobotie for my friend. The soup was already filling enough and the portions were huge! But it was so good that there was no way I was going to leave any behind so I ended up asking for takeaways, whilst my friend joked that he would need a wheelchair to get back to car.
As we walked out with our bellies bulging we heard one of the patrons exclaiming to her waiter that the chicken curry was the very best she’d ever had and that she needed the recipe. Quite a compliment considering she came from Durban. Needless to say I found myself buying a jar of Harissa paste a few days later in an attempt to make a tagine as good as the one I had for lunch. Naturally it didn’t taste quite the same, so I think I will have to go back. There’s a springbok potjie on the menu that I want to try!
Perhaps I will take my dogs for a walk on the mountain first to build up an appetite. Who knows, they may demand their own doggy bag if the dog biscuits are as tasty as the meals for humans.
Rhodes Memorial Restaurant and Tea Garden
09h00 to 17h00 every day of the week.
What to expect
The restaurant is now more affordable as the new owners are catering more for locals than tourists (although tourists are very welcome). Children will love the newly-built playground and your dog will be begging for biscuits. (Note: only well-behaved dogs preferably on leashes allowed.) There are tables outside under umbrellas for when the sun is shining and seating inside with a fireplace for cold days. There are hiking trails near the restaurant where you can take your family, a group of friends or your dogs for a good walk to build up an appetite (or to walk off your meal if you feel so inclined). Of course you should definitely take a stroll down the 47 stairs of Rhodes Memorial (one for each year of his life). It makes for a fine view whilst you digest a good meal.
What’s on the menu
A small selection of what you’ll find on the menu:
- Breakfast On the Run (two fried eggs, bacon, tomato, toast, jam and butter) R35
- English breakfast (Beef sausages, bacon, grilled tomato, mushrooms, eggs, toast, jam and butter) R55
- Niçoise salad (Lettuce, anchovies, tomato, peppers, green beans, potatoes,grilled seared tuna and hard boiled egg) R70
- Vegetarian quiche of the day with a side salad R65
- Ploughman’s platter (Cheddar cheese, gypsy ham, pickles & chutney) R75
- 250g sirloin steak served with bearnaise sauce R95
- Ostrich Bobotie served with butternut topping R85
- Cape Malay Chicken Curry served with sambals, papadums and chutney R85
- Venison potjie served with cous cous R90
- Home-baked scone served with jam, butter and cream R25
- Toasted sandwiches served with french fries R40
- Wraps from R65