Miserable, wet, cold, and grey – a perfect Cape Town winter’s day. Where would the ideal place be to while away a chilly Saturday? A long lazy lunch at Pier at the V&A Waterfront.
While locals much malign the V&A it remains one of the most picturesque and iconic harbour destinations in the world and must be visited. We decided to lunch at Pier, currently vying to be one of, if not the, best restaurant in South Africa. As part of the La Colombe group competition is even fierce internally.
Arriving in a chic sheltered passageway we were warmly welcomed, our coats taken and ushered up the stairs to a modern all-white Scandi-inspired space where the beautiful linen, tableware and menu only emphasise the backdrop of this busy working harbour filled with colourful boats.
The restaurant only takes around thirty people so this is a very intimate dining experience. The manager Aaron Farquhar immediately seated us and introduced us to our waiter. The level of warmth, knowledge, and genuine passion for the food, wine and produce was a benchmark of the service at Pier.
A series of 12 dishes paired with the most incredible wines made for an afternoon not to be forgotten.
The menu is primarily seafood driven and although it is a fine dining concept the emphasis is on flavour, ingredients, and produce rather than sheer visual effect.
A few table-side theatrics and plating of dishes can be expected as with any restaurant in the La Colombe stable. This is a great way to talk about the dishes and the wine in more depth with the team.
A beautiful salmon, ham and pumpkin Amuse-bouche set the tone with an oyster poached in a velouté to follow.
We opted to have the caviar on a cauliflower puree which was a taste explosion and was paired with the Fryers Cove ‘Bamboes Bay’ Sauvignon Blanc. A tiny vineyard on the sea on the barren West Coast – you taste the ocean. The Oscietra caviar is a huge spoil and this dish was perfection.
Curried hake was poached alongside our table and accompanied by the smoked mussel, Chorizo and toasted yeast for a delicious bread course. The chef finishes the fish and serves the dish while explaining and chatting about the ingredients and the concept.
This was followed by Szechuan tuna and then a Langoustine and pork jowl dish that might have been our favourite.
Scallops with bacon dashi preceded an interactive experience where we met one of the chefs outside the kitchen and had a nitrogen-poached Kalamansi palate cleanser.
A dish of Petit Poussin with sweetbread and truffle was our ‘main’ course and was just simply delicious and inspired.
A cheese trolley showcasing some of the great cheeses from South Africa, homemade preserves and accompaniments, was a showstopper, and set the way for a mind-boggling honey, lavender and pistachio dessert that was so complex and balanced. We were mesmerised. The fact that it was accompanied with a 2015 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance made it all the more special.
Finally, homemade chocolates inspired by the sea were served with a Van Rhyns 20-year-old single pot still brandy. The perfect ending to one of the best meals imaginable.
Pier is undoubtedly worthy of greatness and the location, service and emphasis on flavour paired with the finest wines South Africa has to offer makes this one of the best restaurants in the country. Certainly one of our best meals of the year, it would compete with any international fine dining icon.
Pier is headed up by the hugely talented chef John Norris-Rogers (formerly of La Petite Colombe) who with his team serves a multi-course tasting menu inspired by the sea. They are currently running a winter lunch special for R995 per person (excluding the wine).
R995 – 8-course menu
Monday to Sunday Lunch only. Until 31 August 2023
There are two wine pairing options and both are highly recommended.
- Classic pairing: R1295
- Iconic Pairing: R2495
Pier is located in the Pierhead Building (between the NSRI and Life Grand Café) in the V & A Waterfront. The easiest way to arrive is by Uber (drop off at the Victoria & Alfred Hotel) or alternatively by parking at the Ulundi parking garage.
Epice in Franschhoek (2022)
*I was invited as a guest to dine at Pier