Review: Beluga & Sevruga Restaurant

The #TwoBoringChicks visited Sevruga and Beluga this week to see exactly what sets each of these Cape Town institutions aside from each other and indeed, the rest!

 

When Roxy, the sassy marketing exec for the Caviar Group, asked us to come in and do a comparative review of Beluga and Sevruga Cape Town, I thought my exciting, but thus far short-sweet career in restaurant reviewing, was about to come a complete end.

How on earth do you compare such similar eateries, run by the same team?

Then, as I was leaving Beluga, take-away dessert in hand, it hit me:

Cast your mind back to that 1978 classic movie, Grease. The best analogy I can think of is comparing these two restaurants to John Travolta’s character Danny Zuko.

In the beginning of the story, he is this gorgeous, sexy, smooth talking, race car driving, rock n roll singing heart throb, who goes on a journey of self-discovery and by the end of the movie, he is essentially still the same guy, but just a little more mature and a more sophisticated.

And that is very best way to understand how Beluga and Sevruga differ.

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Both are the perfect destination for a romantic dinner, but Beluga is more romantic-after-a-day-on-clifton and Sevruga more romantic-after-a-day-in-the-winelands.

Sevruga is, by virtue of its location, and a few tweaks here and there to the menu, more mature and sophisticated while Belgua is more cheeky and audacious, but both are founded on the same fundamental ethos. Both invest an incredible amount of energy on their customers and customer service and their attention to detail in the food that they create is, for us at least, amongst the most impressive.

We were joined at Sevruga by a very special guest, award winning author, journalist and activist, Graham Hancock and his lovely wife Santha and two friends of theirs, the Singhs.

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Let’s just say that this party of seven would be a real test of the metal of the team at Sevruga. Graham is a strict pescetarian with an added twist in that he only eats shellfish but not octopus. His wife and the Singhs are all vegetarians and my co-host Aimee is a Tim Noakes girl who occasionally steps out on Mr Noakes, but only for Caviar Group Dim Sum.

Had it not been for Andrew, the Sevruga manager, my attempt to be the perfect hostess would have ended in tragedy. In my ever flamboyant demeanour, I exclaimed “Dim Sum for the table, please Andrew”. And this is when his many years’ experience in the industry would pay off. He bent down and whispered in my ear “do you mind if I just ask if anyone has any special dietary requirements?” My face dropped and my heart stopped.

He winked and I smiled. My reputation as one of the two boring chicks in Cape Town remained intact and my mother would have been proud of hosting prowess.

Minutes later, a selection of Sevruga’s most popular Dim Sum arrived, perfectly portioned and correctly positioned on the table to meet the very complicated diets of the guests at our table.

The selection included Corn and Feta Wontons (deep fried Dim Sum), Spinach & Cream and Prawn & Mushroom Har Gau and Spicy Peanut, Chicken and Coriander Pot Stickers.

The table fell silent except for the occasional “Hmmmm” and “Oooooo”. Clearly the Dim Sum was a hit, but then we knew it would be.

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For the main course, most of our guests enjoyed a Sevruga signature dish of Kingklip and Lagoustines with crushed potatoes and tarragon butter, Graham had the Smoked Buffalo Mozzerella with pesto, herbed tomato and avo and a Prawn Salad. I had more Dim Sum (causes it’s that good) and Aimee had her Sevruga staple, the Sashimi Salad. My husband enjoyed an incredible dish of Baby East Coast Crayfish, Beef Ribs and Risotto Balls, which I have to admit, made me nervous. He is not one of those foodies who just eats what is plaited for him if he is unhappy. He will send the dish back. And historically, he has not had much luck with Ribs so some months ago he just gave up ordering them.

At the end of the night I heard him talking with Andrew, (remember him? the manager who saved my bacon!) “Those ribs!” he said, in THAT tone. Andrew nodded. “I kept trying to find the bone…” to which Andrew replied “there isn’t one” which he followed with another winked! I smiled and sighed just a little. Saved again!

The most popular dessert on the night was the Crème Brule. Restaurants in this league just don’t serve a crappy Crème Brule. For me, however, the magnum opus of the night was the Crème Caramel Martini, a sweet, creamy, sultry, delicious dessert cocktail which has stolen my heart, twice! Yes, I know… overindulgence like this may seem excessive, but go and experience this plat du jour yourself and then we can talk!

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Part two of our Caviar experience was at Beluga on Tuesday. For starters we shared the Spicy Fried Calamari with crispy pickled vegetables and spicy peanut dressing and a new addition to the menu, the Kingklip Donuts… deep fried balls of soft white meat, perfectly seasoned and deep friend with a light wheat crust. Simply exquisite.

A bottle of Beluga Bubbly, a round of tequila and a round of jagermeister later, we were no closer to a decision for our mains when, Andre, one of the managers took control.

“What do you feel like”, he asked. us

“I really feel like pasta” I replied, “and Steak”, I added, “and something tomatoish and creamy”

Aimee and our guest, Jo, (who runs a button factory), wanted salad and ‘something with calamari’.

 

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When Andre returned he had three dishes, specifically crafted and designed to our rather eccentric requests. A tender steak pasta in a creamy tomato (and I think, basil) sauce, Calamari with Asian vegies and a Balsamic reduction, for Jo and exactly what Aimee wanted, but didn’t know she did – a Sashimi Salad.

I usually don’t like waitrons and managers loitering around my table, but at Beluga, you feel so at home and the atmosphere is just relaxed and playful. These guys just synergize so effortlessly with their customers that they become as much a part of your posse while you are there, as you do theirs.

It’s this kind of attention to everyone that visits Beluga that instils a sense of loyalty in customers and keeps them coming back. And this is the secret to their success and the longevity of this brand.

 

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