Acclaimed chef, Ash Heeger’s new burrow is undoubtedly something to boast about. An innovative menu served in a beautiful (dare we say) warren on Church Street, attentive service, and delightful atmosphere makes for a lovely evening out dining in Cape Town.
Riverine Rabbit has a selection of three menus, with vegetarian and pescatarian options available across the lot. A simple three-course choice is ideal for those with a medium-sized appetite and budget. However, the full Tasting Menu (with optional wine-pairing) is a real spoil and would make for an indulgent night out by any measure.
We opted for the former and loved the streamlined approach to choosing dishes from the paired-down menu, evident in its’ lineations between courses. Every dish was unique, but our starters, in particular, stood out from the rest. First, leeks served braised and lashed with a rich béarnaise and a satisfying crunch of hazelnuts, breadcrumbs, and sharp cheese. Prefer to get more daring? Go for the Beetroot Tarte. While it might seem innocuous, the flan is served with EntoMilk. Pioneered right here in the Mother City, it is a ‘milk’ alternative made from insects. Yup, you read correctly! Sustainable, very high in protein, and ethically farmed, it is less shocking than you might think. Here, it presents as a vibrant, peppery sauce, and compliments the incorporated raisins, brown butter and greens to perfection.
For mains, we had the sustainable fish, and lamb, respectively. Chef Ash is famous for treating meat well, and the reputation is deserved, as each dish was expertly done – rich without being overwhelming. It is also worth mentioning that her menu changes with the seasons, so while a theme of indulgence prevails, one should not get too attached to particular dishes.
Hard, when then these might include desserts like the winter stone fruit and berry pudding – or the unusual savoury cheesecake, daringly served with pickles and preserves. Not to worry though, as we have taken a sneak peek at the summer menu and are practically drooling in anticipation.
Generously, Riverine Rabbit permits guests to bring along their wine (one bottle thereof) should they desire to do so, which is not hard in the Cape. However, they have some excellent staff on hand to advise as to what might pair best with your chosen dishes. The beverage menu favours small, boutique producers from our further-flung regions, so you know that you are in for a treat. These wines, along with a mean cocktail list, and a not-so-usual list of spirits attributes to the fun of the evening.
The atmosphere and service
What was once a dark and moody space has been transformed by Chef Ash, and her sister, Mandy, into an art-filled, bright, minimalist space. The Riverine Rabbit (we will get to the story behind the name shortly) is made manifest in the various art pieces (all local) that adorn the walls. Guests are also afforded front-row seats to the kitchen action – peering into the searing, drizzling, and sprinkling is encouraged. All in all, it is a delightful, cosy and yet modern space, elevated by the absence of elevator jazz – the music catchy, rock and roll-indie in nature.
Diarise these events
Riverine Rabbit is launching their spring menu on 25 October and celebrating their first birthday with a blow-out dinner on 15 November.
Cape Grace highly recommend this new innovative dining experience.
To book, visit their website for more.
Behind the name
The Riverine Rabbit is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. They are found in the Western Cape, below the Nuweveld Mountains in the semi-arid Central Karoo. The main threat is habitat destruction through cultivation and extensive livestock over-grazing as well as lack of general awareness about, and knowledge of, the species. A unique aspect of its biology is that females can only produce one offspring per year.
Blog post by Tarah Darge