Dear Me restaurant review

The website says that the space at 165 Longmarket Street has been lovingly and patiently restored. The patience and love is evident. I realised when I had a look around that this was the old Sobeit venue which was run by the owners of Cape to Cuba.

The place looks completely different. It’s really quite beautiful. It has a modern feel, but the character of the old building features in various places, for instance the raw stone wall in the entrance and the exposed wood in the bar upstairs. This juxtaposition of old and new is a trend which I quite like.

Comfortable in the modern space, are quirky decor elements like the upside down potplants hanging from the ceiling and the simple but effective wall tattoos. For me there are restaurants where you never notice the decor, and then there are those like Dear Me where as you walk in, you can’t help but look around and appreciate the venue.

Dear Me is only open for breakfast and lunch, Monday to Friday. As well as dinner on Thursday evenings only. However, the bar upstairs, Tjing Tjing, is open in the evenings and you can order tapas style snacks up there. I had a look around upstairs and found that they have a function venue on the 2nd floor which looked perfect for a function of around 50 people. The Tjing Tjing bar on the top level is really funky. With lots of wood, unusual leather couches and interesting cushions, it’s no surprise it’s the in place for drinks these days. There is also an outside area.

The menu changes often, if not every day. This is to cater (hehe) for the passion of the chef, Vanessa Marx, for fresh, seasonal ingredients. I ate there on the Wednesday and when I looked at the website the next day, there was a new menu. So I can’t really tell you what you should order, but I can tell you what you can expect in terms of quality.

I was feeling quite hungry, so greedily ordered the biggest sounding (and most expensive at R105) item on the menu, which was the fillet steak sandwich with a duck egg, emmenthaler cheese and bacon. Many of the options come in starter or main portions. The rest of the table ordered a starter portion of soup (R35) and a starter portion of the pork rillete (R55). We also ordered a selection of cheeses and meats from the deli menu. They have an interesting selection of both, priced at around R25 per portion of meat and R20 per portion of cheese. To be honest, I wasn’t very impressed with the meats. We tried a few different salamis, which were ok, but the chorizo was not great at all. The more interesting cheeses were great like the Witzenberger and the Green Goose Ficksburger.

All of the meat and cheese is sourced from artisanal producers and the bread is made on the premises. They make a selection of breads and the freshness was very evident. We all enjoyed the dishes we ordered, mine was definitely the best. I washed down the steak sandwich with one of their selection of craft beers (R40) while the rest of the table shared a bottle of Ken Forrester chenin (R89).

The prices might be a little more than you would anticipate paying for lunch, but the focus on fresh, high quality ingredients from local producers does go some way to justifying the premium and the lovely venue compensates for the rest.

The service was assisted by the fact that the place is very small so you can catch someone’s attention quite easily. Our waitress was a little over conscientious and wrote down everything we mentioned, even jokingly so we ended up with a few extra items and a bottle of wine instead of a glass. The food also took quite a while and we had kids with us so that sort of thing gets noticed. But overall the service was friendly and quite capable.

I’d recommend a visit to this endearing (hehe) little eatery, although it can be difficult to spot, I drove right past it. If you turn down Longmarket from Bree Street, it’s on the right just before you hit Long Street. Look out for the little green awning. And do yourself a favour, visit the Tjing Tjing bar one evening, it’s fab (see pic below).

The are also running a special until the end of July where their Thursday evening menu is less 25%.

Dear Me Food World
165 Longmarket Street, Cape Town
Tel: 021 422 4920
www.dearme.co.za

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5 Responses

  1. emilee says:

    When I first heard about Dear Me I thought it would be my ideal kind of restaurant, I really value the idea of using organic & seasonal ingredients. But I looked at the menu on their website and there isn’t much for a vegetarian to eat. The menu is really limited and there is basically only one dinner option for vegetarians. I’m quite disappointed as I was looking forward to visiting. Also they have limited themselves with their hours, most people who work office hours cant visit during the week which only leaves Thursday evenings.
    anyway just my 2 cents worth.

  2. Ilze says:

    Dear Emilee

    Thanks for your comment. Part of our concept is to cater for nutritional or dietary requirements as far as possible and our chefs are always willing to accommodate and adapt menu items to suit personal needs. We are not a vegetarian restaurant as such but most certainly also cater for vegetarians as our menu allows for adaptability of specific menu items – so some non-vegetarian options can be adapted to vegetarian (or vegan or lactose-free or gluten-or wheat free).

    To simplify our chef’s menu (food and wine pairing) on a Thursday night we do not list specific vegetarian or vegan items on the menu itself but we are more than willing to do a five course vegan or vegetarian menu and have done so a couple of times in the past when informed in advance.

    Our lunch time menu changes daily and our Thursday dinner menu changes weekly. We are predominantly a day-time restaurant and we chose to open for one night of the week only for dinner as we also have function venues and have to allow capacity on other nights of the week to be able to cater for functions. If demand allows and as we grow, we will most certainly open for dinner more nights per week in the future and may also consider opening on Saturdays for breakfast and lunch.

  3. emilee says:

    Hi Ilze, sorry I only just saw your reply now, thanks for replying and for the info. I didn’t realise you would modify the dinners to make them vegetarian, that is great, I hope to visit soon

  4. Have to say that Liz and I really enjoyed Dear Me. There’s things about it you just don’t find for lunch in Cape Town. Here’s our list: free sparkling water, poached rabbit, a superb range of teas (really, this rivals the Mount Nelson) and a very imaginative range of cutlery, dishes, tea pots etc. I don’t call that kind of thing a small detail: the whole table setting was designed not to match the decor of the space but it was an integral part of the experience. Dear Me was also exceptionally well staffed with an owner who didn’t look like she was about to suffer a nervous breakdown (a sign that everyone there is competent and trustworthy and it’s not just a ‘one man band with help’). I found Liz’s angelfish good (it was with chicory) and unusual but preferred my rabbit with mushrooms and lentils. Really, it was a sensational winter dish and much better than a similar effort with the same meat I had at Den Anker.

    Don’t agree with the first post here: the menu is small because it’s a small place and the ethos is that you can go off menu, leave out ingredients you can’t eat etc as you like. I’d rather have a well constructed honest menu that matches the ambiance than an OTT effort that tries to please everyone and pleases no one!

    So overall, very well done. We’ll be back.

  5. Jason says:

    I wish I could say that I had a good experience here. I read all about the flexibility and how accomodating they are but this is NOT true at all. I went with my partner for breakfast and we were told that breakfast had closed. This was before 11. Lunch was also not available till 12. So we had no choice but to walk out. Glad that business is so good but please remember there are a thing called customers, they pay the money, all they want is to experience all the good things they have heard. Also please remember that no one appreciates being treated in a rude manner. When customers walk out please reflect.