Did you know that there is a winery in the middle of town? Hidden in what was formerly an underground storage area in the historic Hout Street, Bouchon Wine Bar & Bistro is an inner-city gem.
A collaboration between Christophe Durand, owner of Dorrance Wines, and Faisal Khakoo of La Boheme in Sea Point, Bouchon combines a fantastic wine offering with an ever-changing tapas menu.
The European flair and cellar setting makes it feel as though one has discovered a secret. The discreet entrance hides a rather cavernous cellar (which can be booked out for private events), and tables of two to eight, seated beneath enclaves and exposed granite walls.
The lighting is low, with candles on each table – ideal for a romantic evening for two, or an intimate gathering of friends. Chalkboards display the daily tapas selection, and waiters wear aprons, the gin trolley in the corner an alluring accent, along with the posters displaying wine regions and the story of Dorrance Wines.
The wine list is rather unique, combining local gems (Dorrance of course, at the front and centre with great value for money) with a revolving list of niche international wines, available by the glass.
One might sample French Champagne, a Spanish red, a Greek white, or even a sparkling cider in one evening, before moving onto the dessert wine. The wine menu is extensive and would be intimidating, were it not for the knowledgeable waiters, who are always eager to help patrons select the best pairings. Bouchon was also one of the first restaurants in Cape Town to jump onto the gin trend, so if Mother’s Ruin is your preferred tipple, ask them to wheel the golden gin trolley over, from where you can select a local creation.
Made for sharing, the tapas menu is delicious to read and will make you over order, so come hungry and sample all that there is to enjoy. After a nibble of the complimentary house bread, dive into favourites like the soft and succulent beef cubes with bearnaise sauce, wild mushroom risotto with pecorino, crispy pork belly, a slow-cooked oxtail gnocchi that melts in the mouth, baked camembert, and the Mediterranean stuffed squid with a saffron aioli.
Most of the food is decidedly rich, but the menu is well-balanced, so spot the veggies, salads, and fish, and order some of those too if you need to cut the heaviness. The menu changes weekly, according to seasons and fresh produce, so there’s always something new and exciting to try. We recommend starting with a first wave, selecting a wine pairing, and then moving onto a second, perhaps with a different wine.
While desserts can often feel like a chef’s afterthought, here, they are done well. Expect cheese platters, perhaps a baked cheesecake, sometimes a pannacotta, or even a berry parfait. Just don’t feel too disappointed when something disappears off the list – its replacement is bound to be just as good.
Book your seat at Bouchon
In fitting with its rather magical feel, Bouchon only takes one seating a night and is only open from 6-11pm, so make sure to secure your booking by calling + 27 21 422 0695 or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog post by Tarah Darge