SA flavours meet Spanish flair in new Cape tapas menu

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 27 September 2019

Cape Town has a new social experience involving eating, drinking and being merry – all with a unique Spanish flavour.

The AC Hotel Cape Town Waterfront has unveiled its new menu, inspired by the hotel brand’s Spanish roots.

At an interactive chef’s table launch earlier in September, Getaway got a taste of the new tapas menu, which promised the chance to learn and even make some of the tapas on offer.

The new menu was crafted by the hotel’s head chef, Jessica Sutcliffe, whose culinary career has taken her around the world but especially to Spain’s Playa Flamenca, where she worked at The Cellar Door restaurant before returning to South Africa.

bobotie buns, chef jessica sutcliffe, ac hotel, marriott

Head Chef Jessica Sutcliffe shows us how to make a steam bun with lamb bobotie filling

‘The menu is inspired by our European heritage and the AC Hotel brand. However, our location called for us to inject our unique Capetonian flair into it to create a distinctive experience,’ says Sutcliffe.

The tapas menu boasts 12 hearty, flavour-packed dishes ranging from R65-R155, as well as larger platters for sharing, and four robust, sweet dessert options. Always beautifully presented, our sample of the menu did not disappoint, but most exciting was watching our food arrive. The mielie ribs are not only tasty (caramelised and buttery with a spicy chipotle aioli) but are a fun gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly option. The vegan spinach soft-shell tacos go down easily too, and are packed with well-balanced punchy flavours.

The crispy chicken wings had just the right amount of kick, without drowning out flavour, which occupied the table right before a demonstration by Chef Jessica on how to create her lamb bobotie steam buns – a brilliant fusion between Cape and Asian cuisines.

Enjoy great views from AC Hotel, in the lounge and bar or out on the deck. Tapas and a skilful swirl from a porron will elevate your everyday sundowner experience.

A tapas menu in the Mother City wouldn’t be complete without some fresh seafood options, and you can take your pick of ‘Gambas al Aijilo’ (soft-peel prawns), fishy croquettes and the cured salmon.

What followed next was something totally unique to your usual social, sundowner scene. Ever heard of a porron? A porron is a traditional Spanish wine glass pitcher, which is elegantly and unusually shaped like a water pitcher with an elongated, curved spout.

The idea is to drink the beverage inside by holding the porron spout above your mouth, and to steadily pour a stream of your drink into your mouth – while moving the porron further away! It’s a fun social activity, but the original genius was intended to allow as many people to share from the same ‘glass’ without everyone’s lips touching it. We made a refreshing summer drink from cranberry- and lemon juice, vanilla syrup, crushed ice and some bubbly.

We weren’t prepared for dessert, however. If you still have space, the pumpkin churros with a chai masala ice-cream are a must, and represents the sweet spot where this popular Spanish ‘doughnut’ gets a spicier, South African makeover.

tapas, cape town, dessert, tarte tatin, churros

Tucking into the coconut crêpe; Chef Jessica adding in the creme for the caramel for the tarte tatin with Chef Kelly Julie; A sneaky spoonful of chai masala spice ice-cream and pumpkin churros, with the finished apple tarte tatin in the background.

Apart from a rich and fragrant citrus malva pudding, the coconut crêpe with caramel cremo and chocolate and mint ice-cream is a must and will remind you of another SA favourite, the peppermint crisp tart.

We also learnt how to make another sweet treat – a classic apple tarte tatin, demonstrated once again by Chef Jessica and her dynamic young team.

‘Every menu has a few crowd pleasers and we believe ours will be dishes such as; the “mielie ribs”, bobotie buns and coconut crêpes. These perfectly showcase our European roots injected with that special Cape Town flair,’ Sutcliffe says.

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