Cucina Labia (meaning Labia Kitchen) is located inside the beautiful Casa Labia Cultural Centre in Muizenberg. One of my favourite buildings in the Mother City, the Casa Labia exteria does little justice to the inner beauty. Filled with original Venetian material wall “paper”, artworks and decor, it’s an easy whisk away to feeling like you’re straight back in Venice, Italy while on the edge of Cape Town.
I visited Cucina Labia a few months ago, while they were developing their menu, and returned this Autumn to try the menu again. I asked my foodie companion, Geraldine, to join me on the rainy Saturday afternoon. I’ve used the exterior pictures from trip 1 as the sunny views are too beautiful to exclude.
Starters at Cucina Labia
Each meal starts with a fresh bread board with butter, black olives and a homemade onion pickle. G loved the pickle, while I’m just a sucker for good old fashioned herby bread and butter. Add a touch of fresh, rock salt followed by a punch of black olive for a simple and delicious entry to the meal.
For our actual starters I chose the Winter Carpaccio (R95). Composed of thinly sliced beef, carrot puree, hazelnut, rocket, battered provolone and sourdough.
The sourdough styled malva toast had been imminently placed, allowing the bread to retain a much needed crunch in the starter, offering a good contrast to the soft tender bread and carrot puree. There were also fresh, picked peels of carrot which added a vinegary hit to the dish, freshening the palate. I didn’t find the battered provolone added much to the meal as the 3 main elements were delicious alone.
Geraldine had the Black Beauty (R125); cherry smoked duck, liver and Hanepoot parfait, date and onion marmalade, black grapes and almond stuffed prunes. Unfortunately, the duck had been cooked inconsistently so some parts were tender and delicious with other parts being tough and unpleasant to chew. The grapes and jus worked well together.
Main Course at Cacina Labia
For mains I loved the sound of the Osso Buco (R180) – slow braised beef shin, gremolata mousse, smoked tomato risotto, burnt onion and bone marrow jus. I LOVE risotto and paired with beautifully, slow braised beef shin, I thought, “heaven on a rainy day!”.
Unfortunately, the “risotto” was actually some old arancini leftovers; dry, bland and a real let down. The braised beef, however, was tender and delicious. Paired well with the angel hair pasta and the jus, I enjoyed the beef. The gremolata mousse was fantastic and added a freshness to the plate in a fresh and original way.
G enjoyed the Layers of Lamb (R195); slow braised lamb shoulder folded in Kalamata infused pasta, white anchovy and chive, braised leek, bay leaf cream. The pasta was cooked perfectly, allowing the sauce to cling to the pasta between layers of slow braised lamb.
There was some kind of nut (we suspect almond) that added a crunchy element, followed by the bay leaf cream offering a soft herby freshness to cut through creamy layers. While the plate was saucy, rich and delicious, G did note that she missed an asparagus or green bean (a veg of some sort) just to relieve the palate slightly between the rich layers, but overall the dish was delicious.
Dessert at Cucina Labia
We ended our meal with a dessert each. I reordered the Twisted Tiramisu (R80), which focussed on amaretti, espresso mascarpone and dark chocolate. The first version I add a few months back was dubbed, “Nappy in the wind” whereas this version was FAR more Jackson Pollock. It looked festive on the plate and the textures and flavours were well balanced.
The cream may have been slightly split as the texture was a little unusual, however the flavour brought the whole dish together and offset the delicious dark chocolate slab and crunch of the biscuits.
G enjoyed the deep fried panettone bread & butter, thyme and rooibos custard (R70). Being Scottish, bread and butter pudding is something close to anyone from the UK’s heart and she was not disappointed.
The South African twist lay in the edition of the rooibos infused custard, which she also enjoyed, noting that too often B&B puddings do not have enough sauce to accompany the bread. G was not disappointed.
Final Thoughts of Cacuna Labia
Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Cacuna Labia. The service from Ros and her team was excellent and we always feel welcome at the venue.
A few more tweaks need to be made to the menu for it to truly compete, price wise, with the level that Cape Town offers in its restaurants. The wine menu by the glass is also a bit limited, however, the wines on offer are enjoyable. I’m still holding my breath for that smoked tomato risotto actually being a risotto, but overall, it was a lovely afternoon out and we enjoyed our meal.
Thank you for having us Cacuna Labia.