“I believe in stopping work and eating lunch.” – L’Wren Scott
12 pm. The big “boom” sounds from Signal Hill. Cape Town’s oldest tradition, and one that has become synonymous with a well-deserved midday break, is right on time. Whether you are a visitor to the Mother City, or a local, the firing of the Noon Gun never ceases to amaze (and often shock) those nearby.
The green canons on top of Signal Hill are 220 years old, and have been firing since 1806. The original 1794 18-pounder smoothbore muzzleloaders are still used today and are reportedly the oldest daily used guns in the world. While originally brought over by the British to signal boats in the harbour, they have since come to signal something far more exciting: lunch.
And where better to appreciate both this slice of history and brief reprieve from a busy day, than from Signal Restaurant (named of course, for it’s views over the historic Signal Hill).
Whether it is a power business lunch, or something a little more leisurely, Signal’s location at Cape Grace, poised between the City Bowl, and the V&A Waterfront, makes it ideal for both.
The menu is full of fresh, flavoursome dishes that vary from light and healthy, to full and hearty, so you and your companions will be well catered for, whatever your preference and the season.
Settling down at our table dressed in it’s crisp white tablecloth, we gazed over the marina and mountains while we perused the menu, the light music and tranquil atmosphere a welcoming balm for a morning-harried mind.
A 2-course approach is ideal, even for those pressed for time. Drawn to the ‘Healthy and Wholesome’ section of the menu, we ordered the the intriguing Rooibos-Cured Salmon, as well as the Sesame Tuna as starters.
Both fish dishes were outstanding, innovative, and full of flavour. The Rooibos-Cured Salmon arrived beautifully presented, with the slithers of pink fish blushing in an ombre hue from their tea and beetroot infusion. Segments of fresh grapefruit dotted the plate, and provided the citrusy fresh element that balanced out the richness of the avocado. Slices of strawberry added a little tartness to the dish, and perfectly paired with the peppered caciotta cheese.
The Sesame Tuna is an Asian-inspired wonder! Generous rounds of lean tuna, rolled in sesame seeds and lightly seared, co-mingle with picked exotic mushrooms in all shapes and sizes, and bright red pops of semi-dried sun dried tomatoes. The combo of flavours is a dance for the palate, the sesame-soy dressing and red onion marrying the diverse flavours together quite marvelously.
There are also some excellent veggie and vegan options, like the Curried Cauliflower and Caramelised Aubergine, which we can’t wait to return to sample!
The Cape Grace offers WiFi (ideal for working lunches), so after a brief pause to answer a flurry of emails, we returned to the fare and moved onto mains.
Rich, creamy, oozy, risotto proved the perfect bed for the seared prawns and rocket it cradled. The roasted garlic and chilli flavours elevated the rice to a ‘can’t stop eating it’ levels, the prawns were plump parcels of sweetness we relished.
As Signal is famous for their Cape Malay-inspired dishes, we couldn’t pass up on the Chicken and Prawn curry. Texture, scent and flavour here combine to glorious effect. After spooning the fragrant curry onto the crispy onion topped pilaf, we scooped up mouthfuls with shards of the papadoms, and drizzled cucumber raita as well as a ingenious pineapple salsa on each bite. Heavenly, and most definitely a dish to try when in the Cape.
If you are in the mood for a good ‘ol sandwich, the ‘Between the Slices’ section of the menu will keep you smiling, with fillings like Slow Cooked BBQ Short Rib, Spiced Chicken Mayo, and Smoked Salmon Trout to choose from, while Rib-Eye Steak, a Wagyu Beef Burger, Fish, and a Mushroom Tortellini are other crowd favourites.
Blessed with a sweet tooth? Choose one of seven dessert options as your second course, or, should you be taking lunch at our leisure, make it the third.
As lifetime members of the ‘anything caramel’ fanclub, we selected the Dulce De Leche to share, and dove into the caramelised banana, ice-cream, honeycomb, and salted popcorn confection with wild abandon. Other tempting options include the vegan Toasted Pecan Brownie, as well as the Cardamom Creme Brulee, but you are spoilt for choice with ice-creams, sorbets, and cheeses should you wish for them.
After a quick coffee (or mint tea as it were), we headed back to reality, boyed, revived and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
The impeccable service, warm, friendly, efficient and informed, made our lunchtime at Signal ever more enjoyable, so much so that we were sorely tempted to ride out the afternoon there and stay for dinner (not a bad idea indeed).
Book for lunch at Signal
Blog post by Tarah Darge