The Roundhouse review

The Roundhouse is pretty new, almost too new for me to review. But they have been open for a month or so, long enough to iron out the glitches. There seems to be a buzz around town about The Roundhouse, a lot of people have either been or have heard about it. Which would explain why it was full the Wednesday night we went. The attention it has received is quite unlike some other restaurants which have come and gone without much fanfare. New restaurants could perhaps learn something here. The Roundhouse does have a lot of heritage, being the second oldest building in Camps Bay (c. 1786). It has been used for many purposes and was a restaurant before falling into disuse.

The owners have done an excellent job of renovating it (without disturbing the outer shell, because it is a national monument). The entrance is very inviting with some couches which look perfect for summer. Apparently they are working on the al fresco dining section and plan to have it ready for summer lunches (and breakfasts?). The view is stunning, looking over the whole of Camps Bay. The Roundhouse has several sections, including a private dining room. The decor is smart, contemporary and clean with allusions to both it’s extensive heritage and history. The dark wood floors and soft lighting create a warm ambiance.

The Roundhouse is a fine dining establishment. Like restaurants such as Ginja, 5 Flies and Myoga, the menu is priced per the number of courses rather than per individual item. The 2 course meal is priced at R160, 3 course at R220 and 4 at R300. These prices are similar to the other restaurants in Cape Town which price per course. The food is interesting, I had the Grilled Quail for my first course and the coriander and pepper encrusted fillet of tuna with scallop and tiger prawn risotto as my second course. My dining partner started with oysters, followed by the quail and then the duck. The duck came in 2 forms, crisp breast and ravioli of confit duck. We both agreed that while the food was interesting, it wasn’t mind blowing. I would give it 7 out of 10, which is not bad but at those prices you would expect at least an 8.

The wine list is very extensive, many pages with a large variety of good quality wines. The prices are quite high, I can’t remember seeing much under R150 with most of them being above R200. They also offer the menu paired with wines (R240 for 2 courses, R340 for 3 and R460 for 4). I find the pricing to be illogical. Whether paired or not, the price increase per course becomes larger the more courses you order. So, ordering 3 courses costs R60 more than 2, but 4 courses costs R80 more than 3. You are essentially being penalised rather than rewarded for spending more money.

The service is very good, they have obviously spent a lot of time training the staff. The wine is decanted into a stylish decanter, which is novel. I have to say though, that the quality of service is only skin deep. We offered constructive critism on one of our dishes and the waiter had no idea what we were trying to say so he just smiled politely and walked off. This problem is not unique to the Roundhouse, I find it to actually be quite a common occurence these days. It is a little annoying because you don’t really want to have to call the manager for something minor. Anyway, I don’t know what the solution is.

All in all, we really enjoyed our experience at the Roundhouse. The experience would be the main reason for going as I don’t think the food is worth the price. I do look forward to having lunch there one fine day in summer, the stunning view combined with (hopefully) more approachable prices should make for a winner.

The Roundhouse restaurant
Off Kloof Road (Lion’s Head)
Tel: 021 438 4347 / 072 277 2236
www.theroundhouserestaurant.com

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36 Responses

  1. Bazil says:

    Ate at the roundhouse recently – found the wine list actually quite reasonably priced but agree the food is not amazing – service is faultless – of the kind not often experienced in SA – some dishes are good others quite bad – also had the tuna which was a mess – goats cheese souffle was really good – beef fillet nothing special – food def needs work – wines def well priced and service top notch.

  2. JP Rossouw says:

    Eaten here twice now and concur with your general impressions. I do get the feeling that there is the gumption and will to move the food up a few gears and I look forward to that!

  3. Gavin says:

    I ate there recently and thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance, service and general experience. The food was better than the above review and comments suggest and is likely to improve further.

  4. Anne says:

    Went to Roundhouse on Saturday arvie, and loved soaking up the sun in the garden. Great location, great food, great wine-pairing menu but a complete turnoff was the colonialist treatment we received. Yes, train staff, yes educate staff, but this is 2008 people, it was a complete shock to see the staff being bossed about in an attempt to show off, and made me want to throw up my lunch.

  5. Fasie Malherbe says:

    Dear Anne
    Thank you for your feedback on our restaurant. I would like to contact you personally and understand the specifics of the afternoon where you may have recieved the wrong impression of what we are attempting to do at the Roundhouse. Also bearing in mind that our policy is to educate people with no previous hospitality awareness or skill in this industry. The standards that our guests expect are high and colonialism may have been mistaken for the maintenance of the standards irrespective of the title or nature of the staff. I am away on business overseas and will be back on thursday and i will get your number from the reservations book. Kind Regards Fasie Malherbe

  6. Sarah says:

    Even though the Roundhouse has only been open a few months, my circle of friends and I have dined there many times. I feel the complete opposite to Anne (above) – the service is my most favorite element of the Roundhouse. I know many of the waiters by name and from learning of the training done, the up skilling achieved, and of their enjoyment in working there, I can fully appreciate high standard of this restaurant. I am thoroughly enjoying my return visits, especially being in the presence of the warm, smiling faces of the people working there. I am lucky enough to be able to travel a lot, and I feel South Africa, and Africa, can learn a great deal from this beautiful establishment. Congratulations on creating a magnificent restaurant, keep up the great work.

  7. Alain says:

    The Roundhouse team are doing a fantastic job and walking into the restaurant one is immediately influenced by the smiles and greetings of staff. I look forward to staking my spot on the lawns during the summer months! It is a complete experience that is peerless in Cape Town. Keep it up.

  8. Lauren C says:

    Well done to Fasie and his partners, my friends and I ate there on the Wednesday evening of the public holiday and everything was perfect, right from the moment the car guard helped me out of my car and guided me inside with a torch. The food was great, the menu is very exciting, and I agree not all dishes were mind-blowing, but it is a fantastic experience. I must also compliment you on the wine list, it really does have some value for money nop notch wines, you guys outdid yourself with that! But then again, with the De Toren links, I would expect nothing less. Everyone tipped hugely and it was gratifying to know your staff would be walking away with our cash! They deserve it.

  9. Leezl says:

    Just to let everyone know, the menu at the Roundhouse has changed, they no longer offer the 2, 3, 4 course options. (We were a little sad when we arrived, having gone to the website on the day, only to see there was no cheese souffle on offer anymore.) The manager informed us that they now have a new executive and soux chef. They have moved to an ala carte menu, which is rather confusing, 8 options under ‘Menu’ and then 4 under ‘Desert’. Out of the 8 items under ‘Menu’ the waiter informed us that the top 2 and bottom 2 are starters (why not group them together?) I had the butternut/scampi dish, followed by the quail which were both delicious. If you are a fussy eater like me, your options are small, as I don’t eat rabbit or ox-tongue. The wine list had a very good selection. The service was impeccable and the accompanying amuse bouche a delight. It was a good meal, be warned the portions are on the small side. My only complaint is that the restaurant should have had some indication of a total change of menu on their website, to manage expectations, or even their facebook group perhaps?

  10. Dax says:

    Ooh, they have rabbit. It’s been ages since I’ve had rabbit. Maybe it’s time for a second visit to The Roundhouse. You didn’t give any indication on the pricing for the new a la carte menu?

    Thanks for the feedback Leezl.

  11. Leezl says:

    Hope my feedback is helpful, the prices of the 8 ‘Menu’ items ranged between R80 to around R180 I think? Didn’t get a look at the desert prices, sorry.

  12. Dear Dax, reading your feedback from yourself and guests that have joined us is and will always remain a tremendous assistance in trying to puzzle together a dream dinning experience. We are a young team and we have tried a number of new things like the menu change and Rabbit!!?? which were met with very mixed applause. We are still brand new, very new and experimentation has to happen for us to ensure that we are delivering the very best we can to all our guests. We are now back to the 3, 4, 5 course menu with optional wine pairing and the rest. We have a very exciting new team heading up the kitchen and the new energy and expertise is going to delight ten fold. The roundhouse is only at infant stages and we certainly have massive plans, all we really want to do is wine and dine guests and please them thoroughly. We have the Rumbullion opening soon and then the picnics, then the wine and tapas, a bakery with sour doughs great bread and croissants, and then the Raw dinning, so there is lots to come and we are going to sincerly strive to make many happy memories. Looking forwatd to serving you all, kindest regards Fasie Malherbe.

  13. Dax says:

    Thanks for the feedback Fasie, it sounds like you have great plans and a desire to impress. I wish you luck with that and look forward to experiencing it on my next visit.

  14. Mia says:

    Hi Fasie and the Team!
    wow! i was blown away! My fiance and I invited a well known director and Director of Photography for a birthday lunch on Sunday,7 Dec 2008, we were all amazed at the service, extensive and exiting wine list, food, atmosphere, view….. I have been appalled at the service in Cape Town restaurants recently and have really experienced a breath if fresh air at The Round House.The staff is well trained, polite, articulate & friendly!
    Well done!
    P.S The 2 foreign directors commented that The Round House is by far one of their top 5 restaurants in the world!

  15. Fasie Malherbe says:

    Dear Mia,

    Thank you very much for the kind words. We look forward to hosting you at The Roundhouse again in the near future.
    It is always inspiring to get such great feedback!

    Kindest Regards,

    Fasie Malhere

  16. Greg says:

    Recently had the pleasure of enjoying a dining experience that is The Roundhouse. Though not cheap, the entire event was memorable from the breath-taking sunset, exemplary service with attention to detail being paramount. The food was soild, the wine list comprehensive. We went there as a large group of 20 and the management was certainly accomodating allowing us to bring wine and attending to our every requirment.

    Highly recommend it and certainly will be going back there.

  17. Richard says:

    Wow.

    A mind-blowing experience! The youngsters in our Christmas function group were speechless.

    The food quality was top notch, the wines superb, and the service was sublime.

    Fasie, you are legend already…

  18. clive says:

    Anniversary dinner on Saturday night was a huge let down. Great setting, staff are attentive and great view but the staff seem to be intimidated by the head waiter who is young and inexperienced. Interesting menu but nothing to get over excited about except the amazing aprcot souffle (well doen the pastry chef). Lamb loin was tough and bland – discussed with the head waiter who disagreed (never disagree with a customer bad training). Expensive and not value for money i would have expected – conclusion – sadly wont go back or recommend – many better options in Cape Town with a view
    Clive (Chef de Cuisine)

  19. PJ says:

    HI Clive aka chef de cuisine
    Just a short message from one of the grestest chefs I know Pierre Gagnaire about the customer not always being right.
    Always in the spirit of getting to the truth of a dish,I am particularly fond of slicing lamb very thin, to bring out all its eleganc. I also cook it at a low temperature to preserve its delicate character. The Lamb is served pink, and I am afraid I am not interested in listening to a patron telling me otherwise. After all, I know this meat intimately. I have sought it out, I have worked with it,waited,watched.For twenty,thirty years I have laboured over its texture, its cut, the way its cooked. i believe a chef should be granted his point of view. The slice of lamb will be served pink because this is how I invision it. Do you ask a patron how he wants his fish cooked?
    tahnks PJ

  20. Chris Swift says:

    Couldn’t have experienced a better venue for taking someone special you want to treat. In particular, the wind was howling over Camps Bay, while only a gentle breeze caressed the late afternoon sun over the Round House, to dramatic affect.

    We were offered a choice of bubbly on arrival – brut or rose – to which we chose the later and sat on the balcony enjoying the sunset. This turned out to be my only gripe – @ R70/glass for Grahem Beck, I felt a little had. I came prepared to pay good money for fine dinning, but thought this one taking the piss.

    Dealing with management, no request seemed to much trouble, and all preferences were taken seriously and provided for where possible, like sitting at the window.

    We choose the 3 coarse and 4 course wine pairing at R480 and R640 respectively. loved the way you could choose 1 starter and 3 desserts if you wished. All portions were adiquit with unusual and enjoyable taste combinations. The Veal Sweatbread (pancrease) was the most interesting.

    All in all, i’d have to agree with Dax’s sumation. An enjoyable evening, although if i was going to spend that much on a dinner again, I think I’d choose a helicopter ride around the peninsula with a picnic.

  21. clive says:

    PJ – i am not into making this a personal but i have been a chef, butcher and mastered some of the other kitchen brigate arts for 30+ years so no aka and i respect your point of view. Rare is good, thin is good but you will note i said TOUGH – no excuse for that however intimate u may get with your lambs.

  22. George Campbell says:

    Best restaurant in the country, by a long long way. We have eaten in 3 Michelin star restaurants all over Europe and this is as good!

  23. Jenny Cohen says:

    Lunch at The Roundhouse is simply sublime. The best meal I have had in ages. PJ the Chef came out and told us abput the new winter lunch menu inside the Roundhouse and it sounds tremendous and going on the yummy food we had from their summer menu we are very excited to sample. Inside was not open but they let us have a peek inside, so romantic and warm. This place has been a hidden gem and for those that havent been I suggest you give it a try.

  24. mo says:

    Why is there always a patron out there that you never can please, Clive get with it. I never been to The Roundhouse, but compare to a lot of word of mouth out there this sounds pretty good to me. I am glad somebody did something with the Roundhouse. Such a nice venue. PJ, I will see you soon, start kissing those lambs so long for me.

  25. Marie Freeman says:

    Had lunch today at The Roundhouse and was amazed how stunning this place is. Best Sunday lunch in a long time. Love the wine guy, and the bone marrow with the best sour dough bread ever! You must call ahead though we had to wait because didn’t and the place was full.

  26. Dax says:

    This weekend I went to test the Roundhouse winter special. It’s the first time I have been back there since my original review. Since my first visit, the chef has changed and they have had time to settle in so it would be expected that the experience would be better and it was.

    The special is 6 courses for R180. But it’s really three full courses with an amuse bouche, a pre dessert and bon bons. To give you an idea of the value on offer, their normal menu is R330 for three courses (prices have increased since my previous visit). So this is nearly half price, but you can only choose between two options for each of the three courses.

    The menu does change regularly, but this was the menu on the night we went:

    Amuse Bouche (Potato Velouté, Parsley Purée, Bone Marrow and Oxtail Jam)

    Duck Egg Linguine a la Carbonara
    Or
    Bouillabaisse with Octopus, Mussels, Fish & Chorizo

    Linefish with Roasted New Potatoes, Bacon, Caper and Lemon Beurre Noisette
    Or
    Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Celeriac Rémoulade and Mustard Vinaigrette

    Pre Dessert

    Caramelized Almond and Apricot Soufflé with Amaretto Ice Cream
    Or
    Layered Peanut Butter, Banana & Felchun Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ice Cream.

    Bon Bons

    As you can see, quite a spectacular menu. I selected the Bouillabaisse to start, which was awesome. The flavours were fresh and surprising well balanced considering the addition of the chorizo.

    For main I had the Pork Belly which was also very good, although I would have liked some more accompaniement. The gesture of vegetables on top were cute but inconsequential and the suggestion of spinach underneath was barely noticed. A little mash potato would have been a nice touch.

    For dessert I ordered the chocolate cake which I enjoyed immensely. In taste and texture it seemed like a Kit-Kat cake. I got to taste the souffle as well and it was amazing (seriously amazing).

    The amuse was interesting, the pre dessert was tasty (mini lemon meringue) and the bon bons were sublime. Macaroons imported from heaven along with mini doughnuts and caramel popcorn. I washed it down with a nice cup of coffee.

    The service was excellent, and included some appreciated wine recommendations in the R150 per bottle range which helped us to keep the total bill at about R350 per person.

    We enjoyed our meal at the Roundhouse so much that most of the people at our table of 6 are planning to return. I’d advise you to take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy top class food and service in a top class venue at very approachable prices.

  27. Rene says:

    Its a pity that every course has some sort of pork in it!

  28. Rene says:

    Leezl – looks like i wont be able to go to the Roundhouse nor any of my friends – oxtail, rabbit and pork. Pity it sounds so good but i dont eat any of the above, nor does my husband or any of my friends. Why do some restaurants insist on having pork in every dish. Do they not want any Jews or Moslems coming to their restaurant!

  29. Jess says:

    That is possibly the most ridiculous comment ever made on Relax with Dax.
    Rene, i’m sure if you just ASK not to have pork in your food they are more than capable of making other dishes.
    I’m sure the chef has accomodated poeple from every religion, culture and race. Shame on you for making that incredulously niave comment.

  30. rene says:

    Acrtually Jess unless you are the chef at the roundhouse I think your statement is the most ridiculous statementand you should first ask the chef before telling everyone that he can make change. How can you ask the chef not to have pork in your food when every main course is either pork fillet, pork belly or something with bacon. What are you expecting, chicken fillet, chicken belly. When there is a small menu the chef will not change it. If the chef had accommodated people from every religion , culture and race then he would not have pork in every main course. And there is nothing wrong with my comment. Phone a restaurant where they only have kingklip on their menu as a fish and ask them to substitute it with another fish they will tell you thats the fish they have – take it or leave it – and i am sure its the same with pork. Anyway lots of the comments on the food are not that great anyway so pork or no pork i wont be trying the round house.

  31. PJ - The Roundhouse says:

    Hi Rene
    This is PJ the chef fom the Roundhouse, I have no idea who Jess is but she does have a point.
    When a guest calls the Roundhouse and makes a booking they are always asked for dietry requirements, if there are any we always go out of our way to accomodate them as much as possible. In the case of taking pork out of pork belly that would be a bit difficult, but in terms of taking it out of other dishes of course we will.
    I enjoy cooking with Pork products like bacon and hams it has got absolutely nothing to do with religion as you suggest.
    i would like to take this opportunity to thank Dax for his review. we hope to see him here again soon.
    Take Care PJ

  32. Nols says:

    Disappointed: we had our wedding anniversary yesterday, and I booked a ‘special’ dinner at Roundhouse. When I booked I said that we would like to see the sunset and enjoy the view, and asked for a window seat.
    We arrived excited, and early for sunset. But were seated behind a tree. We asked to be moved but were told the table is good. The manager (i assume) did not want to move us either.
    We were the first and only people in the restaurant and I’m not really sure how one becomes special enough to be seated were you want.
    We left and enjoyed dinner down in camps bay at bayside. There we were seated at the best available table without having to ask for special treatment.

    So that’s one less place to think about for a special meal.

  33. Marie Freeman says:

    I assume you booked far in advance to request the window table. This entitlement of seating in Cape Town is unheard of anywhere in the world. Perhaps the bayside is the perfect place for your expectations.

  34. Natalie says:

    We had a great dinner at Roundhouse on Saturday 14 November. We took 2 Belgian friends that had just been to Nomu in Copenhague – and they actually found the food and ambiance at Roundhouse better than at Nomu (nr 3 in the world!). Food as well as service were excellent, we ordered an extra souffle and enjoyed cognac & cigars on the terrace after dinner. Finally, we were shocked upon leaving that it was 2 am already!! We will definitely be back. I can highly recommend it.

  35. Dax says:

    Sundowners at The Roundhouse are my new best thing. I went the other day and it was fantastic.

    Read my thoughts here

    http://www.relax-with-dax.co.za/?p=1748&cpage=1#comment-53742

  36. Carla says:

    This evening i went for dinner to The Roundhouse – this is the best restaurant i have ever eaten at!! I am amazed and considering how very critical i can be about food and service, this was outstanding. The Roundhouse just gets it right. I am so glad that i can honestly say there is a truly amazing restaurant in Cape Town. I was quite weary at first, as i suspected we would get really small portions of food because it is fine dining, but i was blown away. I would highly recommend The Roundhouse to anyone who is searching for their favourite restaurant. Finally i found mine, thank you!