Elegant Italian Indulgence at 95 Keerom

Not content with just one decadent molten chocolate creation, Giorgio Nava, chef and owner of 95 Keerom, has gone and invented the double chocolate fondant – a dessert duo so seductive it’s a little immodest. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Three delectable courses ahead to be exact.

Occupying the end of Keerom Street (Afrikaans for ‘turn around’), 95 Keerom is an elegant Italian affair. Transformed from what was historically the stables and slave lodge of the Company’s Gardens, the tastefully renovated building (circa 1682) hides a sleek, contemporary interior.

Taking a seat upstairs in the light wood furnishing, we admired what is perhaps the most striking design feature: a live and ancient olive tree stretching all the way through, up and out of the centre of the restaurant.

But the ancient laurel, now decidedly in its senior years, isn’t the only thing that distinguishes 95 Keerom from other Italian establishments in Cape Town.

Indeed, the Milanese-inspired food has a well-earned reputation for its contemporary flair and honest ingredients without unnecessary fuss. But that’s not to say that choosing any items off the menu is easy.

For starters, the beef or fish carpaccio, thin as tissue paper, will undoubtedly call your name, as will the oozing Burrata, and steak tartare dressed with the finest olive oil.

Then there is the pasta – Giorgio’s crowning glory and the speciality that won him the title of ‘World Pasta Champion’ in the 2013 World Pasta Championship. You can even order the dish that sealed his victory; that is if you can steer your thoughts away from the sage and butternut ravioli, pillowy gnocchi, fresh line fish, mussels, Osso Buco and the numerous meaty dishes he’s equally renowned for.

Good thing then that we had exceptionally help in choosing our courses. Our knowledgeable waiter suggested we throw caution (and any concerns over calories) to the wind and jump right into the some of the most stand out items – this after extensive mulling over the options while snacking on their freshly baked bread.

In a moment of sheer indulgence, we opted to share the Live Crayfish Linguine for starters, along with the Avocado and Walnut Salad. Both were astonishing. The rich flavours of gorgonzola and perfectly ripe avocado met the sweet tang of pears and ripened cherry tomatoes balanced by the clean flavour of the rocket and crunch of walnuts in a match made in salad heaven.

And then, the crayfish! While we had anticipated an unmanageable portion, we were enraptured by the lightness of the linguine, gently flavoured by cherry tomatoes and little else – allowing the sweet meat of the freshly steamed crayfish (a type of shellfish akin to a lobster) to take centre stage as we eagerly devoured every morsel.

This we quaffed with some excellent local Chardonnays – unoaked and bold but not too buttery.

Knowing that Giorgio gives his meat and fish both the star treatment, I opted for the New York style tuna for mains, while my carnivorous partner couldn’t resist the La Selvaggina – 3 portions of perfectly aged black wildebeest, kudu and springbok, grilled rare with olive oil and rosemary. This is, after all, South Africa, and where better to sample our local game.

The meat was juicy and tender, a feat considering their reputation for tough textures. Complimented by rosemary and parmesan mash, each mouthful was a lesson in the beauty of simple, authentic flavours and the outstanding quality of their ingredients.

The seared tuna was equally as delectable. Served with cherry tomatoes, capers and olives, the salty toppings and side dish of stir-fried spinach was hearty without feeling heavy.

As both out our meals leant towards the red, we opted for the Idiom Super Rosso blend as an accompaniment – versatile enough for both of our dishes. Speaking of wines, the list is as extensive as the food menu – with some local favourites as well as the more exotic Italian varietals on offer. If you’re in the mood, try one of their seven Proseccos to start, and perhaps a Grappa to finish.

Finally, back to the famed chocolate fondant. Made with dark Zaini imported Italian chocolate, it’s perfect chocolate crust and rich liquid centre will set the standard for every chocolate fondant you will have from that moment. Its white chocolate twin is a little stickier and sweeter, but gorgeous when scooped with a bit of the original.

There are, of course, other sweet options from which to choose. If you’re in the mood for something colder, do try the semifreddo, gelato or sorbet – homemade and beautiful in texture.

Dinner at 95 Keerom is certainly a special experience – made ever more so by the appearance of Giorgio himself, who will mingle with patrons as they dine on what is unarguably the best Italian in town.

Book Your Seat at 95 Keerom

Phone +27 21 422 0765 or email info@95keerom.com to make a booking. Alternatively, visit the 95 Keerom website and book online.

Hours

  • Dinner, Monday – Saturday: 6:30pm-10pm
  • Closed on Sundays

Blog post by: Tarah Darge

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