What better way to celebrate Heritage Day week than with some proudly Capetonian food? A few weeks ago I was invited to dine at the Quarter Kitchen, the famous Commodore Hotel’s in-house restaurant.
I’m not a huge curry fan, but I enjoy learning about South African cuisine along with the next tourist. So I was pleased to visit with my best friend, Ang, who moved to Joburg the following week (YouTube video about that below). Funnily enough, I did the hotel’s phone answer service voice over a few years ago! But I’ve never actually been inside so it was a pleasure to visit.
Quarter Kitchen, History in the Making
The Quarter Kitchen embraces Cape Town’s rich history by encompassing the original Breakwater Prison. First built in 1860, original sections of the prison can be seen from within the restaurant.
Dinner for Three
The focus of the restaurant is on Cape Malay food. With the Dutch East India Company establishing Cape Town as a port for trading vessels, many slaves were brought to Cape Town from Indonesia and Malaysia. Their influence on food and the use of spices has long survived the end of the slave era and continue to shape Capetonian food today.
The Quarter Kitchen embraces this rich history and allowed us to explore the textures, flavours and courses of this unique cuisine starting off with a selection of local finger foods. The Savoury Malay Platter includes daltjies (deep fried chickpea flour, onion, turmeric and spinach chilli bites), samoosas, minted meatballs and jalapeno rissoles (crumbed moon pies) served with chilli blatjang (a type of chutney), coriander and mint yoghurt and tomato and onion sambal.
We also went a little western as we couldn’t resist the sound of the spinach and pepper quiche! Perfectly flaky, this was a familiar treat and satisfying.
Huge Main Course
The first course was satisfying in itself along with our luscious welcome cocktails, but we still had a giant’s meal to eat in the main course. In true Malay style the spread was a feast with guests choosing 4/7 dish options. Four pots arrived at the table to reveal our selection: Penang Curry, Dahl Curry, Butter Chicken Curry and Vegetable curry, accompanied by flat breads and rice.
The penang curry and dahl curry were my favourites as the dahl was far more flavourful and interesting that I had anticipated. The pengang because I just prefer red meat curries to white meat curries. Look how rich and yum this sauce looks though? Delicious!
No More Dessert Please
At this stage we were honestly stuffed and weren’t that keen on dessert. But the restaurant insisted on spoiling us and I’m glad they did.
The most South African desserts were the malva pudding with vanilla bean custard (similar to sticky toffee pudding) and the “koeksister” soaked in orange syrup and crunch coconut. This is a popular dessert similar to street food due to its easy availability within the mother city.
My favourite dessert though was the a type of tea panna cotta with dried fruits and pistachio nuts. I LOVE a panna cotta so this was a real surprise and very enjoyable.
Discover Cape Cuisine at the Quarter Kitchen
Previously known as the Quarterdeck Restaurant, the Quarter Kitchen has recently been refurbished and menu overhauled to focus on these proudly South African cuisines. If you’re in the mood for something different or have guests visiting from abroad, keep this restaurant in mind. The service is conservative yet welcoming, the chef’s food is clean and flavourful and the building is somewhere unique to discover.
This spread, known as the Chef’s Feast, is available for R275 per person and includes the starters, 4/7 mains and a dessert. If you’d prefer 1 particular type of starter or main, you are welcome to order single portions from the main menu. For the less adventurous, a regular menu is also available with burgers, toasted sandwiches, etc.
We had a lovely time at the Quarter Kitchen and recommend this restaurant if you’d like to explore truly Capetonian cuisine (in a more formal setting than the cafes of Bokaap) around the corner from the V&A Waterfront. Find parking within the hotel’s underground parking for easy access to the hotel.
Thank you for having us Quarter Kitchen!