Ultima Tapa is Scott, the owner of the brilliant Kyoto Garden Sushi’s new project. I had heard about it and was very keen to try, being a fan of tapas and multiple course eating.
I popped in on Tuesday with a friend to check it out and an interesting evening unraveled itself.
Stepping into the small and intimate restaurant off a very bustling upper Long street, was like walking into a spa or an oasis. Zen comes to mind. The direct contrast with the outside loud, pre world cup, chaos was striking, and almost felt quite unreal.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated and the exposed brick walls give the minimalist furnishings a warm touch. The lighting is perfect and the chairs are extremely comfortable.
We were given a complimentary sangria and a few little tortilla tasters. The Sangria was sensational and made with cap classique. Two toned, sparkly and beautifully presented with ice, and spicy red wine soaked fruit garnish.
(My pictures are not great due to low light conditions)
I asked Scott if I could see a winelist and a menu, and he said he didn’t really have one yet, but presented me with a print out of what the menu will be. It comprises some starters, what he refers to as entrées and then a comprehensive list of tapas. Most of it is in Spanish, so there was very limited understanding of what was what.
I asked what he could recommend and he announced that he would choose for us. Ok, feeling a little bit nervous, but being the adventurous eater that I am, thought this could work. The first plate was the Anchovies on grilled red pepper. Very tasty! My friend, who is a little less adventurous and doesn’t eat anchovies, was concerned. I wasn’t really sure how to manage the situation so gently asked Scott what we would be eating tonight and he smiled and said ‘I’m not sure yet’.
Luckily I had mentioned in an earlier conversation that I don’t eat bunny, even though it is 100% free range and organic.
So we just sat back and were presented with course after course of mainly delicious morsels. Living on the edge. We ate from all areas of the menu, the starter, the ‘main’ and the tapas, but there was little difference between these in terms of quantity or size.
The gazpacho was probably the largest portion and it was delicious, thick, fresh with the perfect amount of spice.
I ordered another sangria, and this time I got a red wine version, also very good.
The wine list was not in existence yet, so we just settled on what was available, the Landskroon sauvignon/ chenin blend. R35 per glass. Not really ideal to open a restaurant, even as a ‘soft launch’ without a few options presented with a price.
The grilled oysters, done so simply with a little bit of olive oil, garlic and salt was my brain silencing moment, and my favourite bite of the night. I was lucky here, as my friend doesn’t eat oysters so I was able to savour both with a little spritz of lemon. I wanted this taste to stay in my mouth forever. At R55 for 2 oysters, you want it to linger.
The quail was perfectly cooked, 2 teeny little legs and thighs for R65.
We both really liked the fish soup. Full of flavour.
The steak entrée arrived. It was about 12cm long and about 2mm thick. Four bites @ R85. The plate of grilled asparagus, artichoke, peas and mint came separately R32.
Two desserts arrived, the flan and the saffron ice cream. This was a very small scoop of sweet home made ice ream with a sprinkling of saffron on top, vs. infused: R34. I didn’t really think it was anything special.
The bill came in at R650 (including 4 glasses), with a few items being taken off.
It was a really strange and awkward situation to be in, having food presented without any prior consultation on what we were up to spend, or what our taste preferences were. At the same time we did resign ourselves to being in it, and would just go with the flow. So a quick catch up evening with a friend, over what I had wanted, a few tapas and a couple of glasses of wine, turned into a rather big eat night.
In terms of the value of the meal, you would need to judge for yourself if you are prepared to pay these kind of prices for this kind of food. Food that is very authentic, a huge amount of care and attention to detail has been applied, but rather small in terms of volume.
You may also want to insist on ordering yourself.
When confronted with so many choices of wonderful winter menus at Cape Towns fine dining restaurants. Would I choose to eat at Ultima again, or would I spend a similar price per head at La Colombe for a 5 course menu paired with wine, or R245 for seven courses at the Roundhouse?
I may find myself going back there and quietly sitting at the bar to enjoy a glass of bubbly sangria and two oysters for R100, as a special little treat.
Ultima Tapa: 224 Long Street (opp the Dubliner). 021 4222003