There is a new ' happening' in Cape Town - Grand Café & Beach has exploded onto the scene. And I mean exploded! In no time at all, it has become one of the most sought after 'to go to' places to eat, drink, people watch and just chill out and make-believe that you are at a Beach Club in St Tropez. In fact, one of the hottest tickets in town. C.E.O, Suzette Main, and Executive chef , Seelan Sundoo have again worked their magic.
The approach to the entrance of Grand Café & Beach is a palm- frond covered walkway along a wooden boardwalk. The restaurant is housed in a huge warehouse. After much searching, an abandoned warehouse provided the inspiration for the restaurant. It took months to clear the space and to prepare it to be the interior of the beach club. Outside, a lovely 46m long sundeck provides a platform for chairs, tables and umbrellas and reaching out to the ocean, a stretch of pristine, white sea-sand, brought in from surrounding beaches. On the beach are sun beds waiting for tanned bodies to adorn them. Salvador Dali would surely have painted the superbly surrealistic white settee and set of easy chairs in the middle of the beach on the sand. A giant chess set is set out on the sand, waiting for someone to try an opening gambit. All amazing to behold.
You step inside and into an alternate world. There are whispers of the Grand style of the Parisian café of another era. Pots and pots of red roses, huge elaborate chandeliers, wonderful Parisian café chairs, antique furnishings sitting comfortably on Indian rugs, and everywhere, touches of pink and grey. There are all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies. In one corner is a baby grand piano, in another a shop selling imported and local apparel. Just before you reach the main dining area, there is a table, described as the best in the house, No. 55, Cinquante Cinq, named after the beach club in St Tropez that is the source of much of the inspiration for Grand Café & Beach.
The first thing that strikes you in the main dining area is a magnificent 15 metre long pure white bar adorned with mouldings of lovely plump cherubs. Again, echoes of the Belle Epoque theme of the Grand Café in Camps Bay. Down the centre of the room is a long table surrounded by Parisian café chairs and a throne-like easy chair at each end. A marvellously ornate chandelier hangs above the table. There are many smaller tables or you can enjoy the spectacle from a seat at the bar.
Outside the scene changes to one of the hedonistic lifestyle of the beach clubs of the French Riviera. Diners eat casually and languidly on a wooden deck under large white umbrellas. The view is of the beach and the blue, blue ocean beyond. Motor launches moor near the shore and yachts can be seen further out to sea. You would be excused for thinking that you had suddenly been spirited away to a faraway beach in St Tropez.
The lovely retro bistro menu is the same one that we all enjoy at the Grand Café in Camps Bay. A triumphant innovation is the gourmet pizzas, some a metre long, others 600cm long. It is quite a sight to see these creations being brought to the tables on wooden platters. They are cut into rectangular slices and provide a wonderful accompaniment for a pre-prandial drink. Or just enjoy one as a very satisfying meal. Many people enjoy the the Grand Burger, a low carb, veal burger served with shredded lettuce, vinaigrette sauce and piles of chips. All very delicious.
All the favourites from The Grand, Camps Bay are there . The gourmet crayfish sandwich, the tempura shrimp, Seelan's special sugar salmon, mussels and chips and many others are still being served to the faithful and to all the new customers clamouring to get tables.
Grand Café & Beach is within a stone's throw of the V&A Waterfront and also the new Cape Town Stadium. At the time of writing, the restaurant is booked two weeks in advance and bookings for New Years Eve are closed. The coming year will bring more and more people to our lovely city and inevitably to the Grand Beach, so even more reason to say that booking is essential.
The parking area is being levelled and laid with compressed peach pips.
There is a wonderful sign on a board on the beach displaying the house rules which ends by exhorting everyone to:
"Have a Grand time as long as you do it with flair."
Frankly I can't imagine anything less than great flair at the Grand Café & Beach!
Address : Beach Road, Granger Bay, Cape Town
The Grand Café & Beach is open from noon till late and is closed on Mondays.
Eugene and I love eating out and always pay for our meals.