I had planned to drive to the seaside town of Muizenburg, a surfing destination outside Cape Town for fresh oysters and mussels. The Alfa mishap put paid to my plans. Fortunately I was able to score a last minute reservation at Fyn, perhaps the best restaurant in Cape Town. The view over Lion’s Head and Table mountain is stunning. The food, is ambitious and perfectly executed using the freshest local ingredients with a Japanese flair. The wine list is obscure and occasionally wonderful.
The Michelin Guide doesn’t award it’s coveted stars to restaurants in the African continent. This is understandable given that most African cuisine consists of peanut stew cut with what appears to be UN food rations. As an accompaniment there is usually some kind of unleavened bread that serves as your napkin, and also your plate. It’s a type of cuisine favoured by the terminally earnest women you find at protest marches.
If the folks at the Michelin Guide were to start handing out stars in Africa however, Fyn in Cape Town would be the bookies favourite.
The food is fussy, persnickety, complicated – and absolutely sublime. Your plate is adorned with many minor ingredients whose provenance is described to you in excruciating detail “so, we wait for the moon to enter the seventh house before we send a virgin out to forage for our herbs…” Sometimes a laboratory gnome is employed instead to find “African Caviar” or “African truffles”.
But these are minor irritants. The food is perfectly executed, cooked by a confident kitchen that knows what it’s doing. It is creative, it is fresh, it has flair. It is international, yet still uniquely African. It is very good.
The wine pairings which came with our food were quirky; sometimes brilliant, but mostly odd. The sommelier, a French woman who also manages the restaurant with a most un-Gallic efficiency, wasn’t amused when I suggested that the reason the fifteen year old Chardonnay she served me “ tasted interesting” was because it was beginning to go off. It was a bit like telling Kim Jong-un that he needs a new hairdresser; stating the bleeding obvious is sometimes not a good strategy for making it out alive.
I did make it out eventually, and the damage wasn’t too bad. Dinner at Fyn cost about £50 a head (without wine), a princely sum in Africa. In Post Covid London gets it gets you a pizza, a couple of beers, and a waiter with a bad attitude.
Fyn has been rated one of the top 100 restaurants in the world. Perhaps it is time our French friends at Michelin discovered the African continent.