Love thy Neighbour, and all the various names it was called before, is as close to a ‘local’ as I’ve ever had in Cape Town. I’ve been going there right from the beginning and when it first opened as & Union. I’ve celebrated more birthdays there – my own and others, than I can remember, and many festive parties have been had. I’ve been the last to leave on an embarrassingly large number of occasions and most of the staff who have worked there for years know my name. I’m such a fan it obviously made my Comprehensive Guide to Eating Out in Cape Town.
In the beginning, we had to queue up to get served in a small space that was often overcrowded and had a very limited wine selection. Brewers owned it so the focus was on their very expensive imported beer. I hate standing in a queue, but we got used to it and still loved it. Somehow we always found a space to sit no matter how full it was and the limited menu that included one of the best burgers you will find in Cape Town – The Bree Street burger, and the sausage fest were the staple of our snacking and to line our drinking stomachs. Over time things evolved, the wine list expanded and the new owners opened Hanks Irish next door that is linked to Love thy Neighbour so you can cruise between either and generally have a very festive time.
In the latest development, the restaurant has been refurbished to include proper seating inside and they have introduced a Greek menu created by chef Nick Charalambous. With his has roots in Cyprus the food is a little different to your bog standard Greek fare, and Middle Eastern flavours permeate throughout. They have also build a wood-burning hearth at the top of the outside seating area that forms the center stage for the food preparation and most dishes get some time over the fire. This is an unpretentious menu designed to be shared at a convivial table with friends.
I was invited to a feast two weeks ago to experience the new fire in action and to taste a few delicious items on the menu:
Taramasalata with preserved lemon, green olives, and sumac was one of the delicious dips along with fava fire-roasted shallot, capers, nigella seeds, served with crispy flatbreads to scrape every corner of the bowl. The roasted olives with orange zest, spring onion, oregano, garlic were extremely tasty and got me wondering why we don’t serve olive warm all the time. The menu is a selection of small plates and sides that are ideal for sharing like the white anchovy with toasted almond salad. The aubergine fries with a dressing of whipped feta, a drizzle of date molasses and sesame seeds sprinkled over the top is an absolute must order when you go to Love Thy Neighbour.
The Haloumi Saganaki with sweet pumpkin preserve and walnut salsa was another standout dish for me and one I plan to make here soon. The ricotta dumplings with chard, warm yoghurt, burnt chili butter, sumac was as comforting as it was delicious and the fire roasted cabbage that had been hanging over the coals since 7 am that morning was a show stopper. Served with tahini, muhamarra and dukkah this dish is not vegetarian as it gets splattered in lamb fat throughout the cooking process giving it a very distinctive taste. Sheftalia, sumac onions, parsley and herb salsa along with a bright and crunchy celeriac and green apple salad with kohlrabi, radish and dill were perfect accompaniments for the chicken and pork souvla. For dessert, the loukamdes which are small orange blossom soaked doughnuts were served with a chocolate hazelnut sauce for dipping. Utterly delicious.
The wine list has improved which pleases me no end and we enjoyed the Reyneke Organic Shiraz, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Coastal Region, 2016, with our lunch along with one of my faves the Secateurs, Chenin Blanc from the Swartland 2016.
Love Thy Neighbour – 110 Bree Street Tuesday to Saturday 12noon to 11.30pm (kitchen closes at
Tuesday to Saturday 12noon to 11.30pm (kitchen closes at 10pm)
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