Authentic, inspired, original and totally delicious. This is how I would describe Nic Charalambous’s new summer menu at Ouzeri.
Nic spent a month travelling around Northern Greece and Cyprus this year and researched many regional dishes. He has brought these ideas back and infused them into his menu using carefully sourced local produce. Nic pays homage to his family and the food from this region in exquisite detail. Every ingredient is thought through and given a contemporary twist.
I love the finesse he applies to these elements, such as pickling fennel flowers for his coal-seared tuna with cucumber from Serifos. It’s hard to pick a favourite with this lineup so I suggest you go with a few people and share the dishes. The Anari dumplings with burnt tomato butter will stay in my memory for a long time to come.
I have been eating at Ouzeri since it opened and was a pop-up. I think this new menu takes Ouzeri to another level. This is the type of food I always want to eat.
A little more information about Ouzeri
Ouzeri, Cape Town’s trendy Wale Street eatery, celebrated for its contemporary Cypriot and Greek cuisine, is serving up a host of exciting new dishes. The menu remains true to its core of balancing tradition and innovation, paying homage to the rich culinary heritage of Cyprus and Greece while embracing the bounty of fine South African produce.
At Ouzeri, a commitment to preserving traditional culinary practices is paramount, with Chef Nic Charalambous drawing from his rich heritage of Cypriot and Greek cuisine to create the menu. With the launch of Ouzeri he delved into his family recipes, drawing inspiration from recipes passed down through generations and traditional recipes discovered while travelling and interpreting them through his unique modern lens.
Particularly of interest to Nic was how he could further explore the traditional diets of the region, incorporating a diverse array of interesting pulses, grains, and abundant greens into his dishes.
He has also doubled down on his dedication to finding the right balance between contemporary and authentic Cypriot Greek cooking, focusing on highlighting the regional cooking of the regions, respecting the history behind it, and then working to bring into focus the different flavour profiles through exemplary local ingredients.
“It has been really exciting for me to learn more and more, and then to pass that knowledge onto the team who then showcase this to our customers. It’s this importance of establishing a connection between the origin of a dish, the landscape, climate, geography and culture, and then also merging that with Cape Town’s own identity,” says Nic.
This connection is exemplified in the unique, new dishes on the summer menu. One such dish is the Apaki, originating from Crete, which sees mountain herbs used to cure and smoke pork loin. This season the traditional dish has been made with the help of local artisans and producers. The famed Cape Town butcher Richard Bosman is making the Apaki for the restaurant where it is then cooked over wild rosemary from Meuse farm, recreating the flavours of Crete in a truly local sense.
Another such example is the Gamopilafo, a traditional, celebratory Cretan wedding dish. While traditionally made with mutton, goat, or rooster and finished with goats’ butter, Nic brings his twist to this dish by using the finest lamb and mutton from the Western Cape along with Cream of the Crop’s cultured butter to replicate the taste of the goats’ butter.
Looking towards Cyprus, the Skordosxithia, a hyper-seasonal broad bean dish, sees the beans braised in a traditional Cypriot method involving vinegar and garlic, and elevated with chargrilled pork belly glazed with a tangy vinegar sauce.
The beef tartare, hones into Central Greece, the local steak served with elements inspired by skordalia which uses walnuts in place of potatoes. While those who seek the freshness of the sea will be transported to the sights and scents of Serifos, where aromas of wild fennel fill the air, with the new tuna dish. The fish is briskly charred directly on coals and dressed in a textured charred spring onion salsa. The dish is further enhanced with a sauce of fennel, cucumber, and Ouzeri’s in-house fennel flower vinegar, and finished with a sprinkling of pickled fennel flowers.
Ouzeri’s new menu is a delicious journey through the flavours and memories of Cyprus and Greece, brought to life with the Cape’s finest ingredients, perfect for the Summer season.
Ouzeri – Bookings
58 Wale St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000
12 pm – 2:30 pm
6 pm – 9:30 pm