Round House

We went with Rob and Rose to the Round House Restaurant in the Glen in Camps Bay, Cape Town on 30th April 2010. A lovely experience but not as good as it should be.

The Round House was built in 1786 as a guard house and was used by Lord Charles Somerset as his hunting lodge from 1817. Over the years it was used for different purposes but eventually fell into disrepair. It was acquired in 2008 by the current owners and transformed into a restaurant. There are about twenty tables in a half circle room with some of the tables having wonderful views over the Camps Bay valley. There is a black hole room with six tables in the centre of the building which should be avoided at all cost as you have no view and you have all the waiters tramping past your table to the elite section.

The dining concept is that one chooses either four or five course from a list of fourteen prepared that day. There is no pressure to follow a traditional combination of dishes. Our table ordered the following:

  • Foie Gras terrine with ham, lentils and ham hock salad
  • Confit duck with potato gnocchi and balsamic jus
  • Bouillabaisse with squid, mussels, chorizo, and confit fennel
  • Slow cooked pork belly with pomme puree, apple and calvados vinaigrette
  • Roasted warthog with turnip puree, beetroot, braised spinach with a pot jus
  • Espresso soufflé with cardamom ice cream
  • Lemon chiffon with burnt orange sorbet and candied kumquats
  • South African cheeses with preserves and oatmeal, cinnamon raisin bread

In general each meal was extremely tasty and well presented. I have tasted better foie gras terrines but liked the pork belly. There were slight grumbles about the warthog and the cheese. We were being ultra critical probably because we were paying top dollar for what was supposed to be one of the best food experiences in Cape Town. Servings were small and some of the ingredients towards the end of each list were impossible to discern.

We had a choice of either ordering wine off an expensive list, having wine paired with the dishes or having reserve ( I assume superior) wines paired with the dishes. We went for the middle option which was a mistake. Each glass was as small as could be legal with drinkable but everyday South African wines. Nothing special! Much was made of the wine pairing with the wine being poured from small decanters (probably because they didn’t want us to see the very ordinary wine labels) with the waiters, clearly not knowing the wines themselves, announcing the wines in accents that required several repeats before we could identify them.

There were a lot of waiters and so service was pretty good. The dining experience was irritated by being asked twice during each course whether we were enjoying the dish.

Getting the right table is crucial as only a few tables have good views over Camps Bay, most tables have a sky view and the tables in the black hole see nothing but the backs of waiters! Having been seated in the black hole on my first visit I booked my table two months in advance. I was told then and when I confirmed the reservation, on the day before our meal, that tables would be allocated on the night but as I was first on the list I should get a good table. Well I there must have been three other groups of friends of the manager or important people because I was given the fourth best table! I don’t like this high handed approach to patrons.

This is one of the most expensive dining experiences in Cape Town in a lovely location. There are too many niggles to make it worth returning.