For diners interested in a sensory experience there are several restaurants in the city that are worth visiting for both the food and the art.
Skinny Legs Café is like a little oasis in the middle of the city, part of a precinct of historic buildings near the corner of Loop and Hout streets. The high white interior space has a beautifully hung exhibition which changes every four months. A new one starts in March with work by an artist known as Holmes. If you are in time, run and catch Mense en Plekke by Renee Rossouw and Retha Bornmann before it comes down, it’s a joy. Hand-made crockery is for sale and it appears on the tables as well, full of excellent food. A special edition of the menu incorporates pictures from the current exhibition.
The Deer Park Cafe is the most child-friendly restaurant ever and gets quite busy. Pick a quieter time and it’s the very opposite, a picture of calm and tranquility. Two large paintings by Wendy Anziska are hung against dark walls and they seem to flood the room with colour. Light pours in from a wall of windows opening onto the park which contains another significant artwork, a leaping stag by legendary street artist DALeast.
The interior of Hemelhijs in Waterkant Street conjures up an antique pharmacy atmosphere, with old bottles and antique china and faded labels faithfully reproduced. The theme is extended with a wall of framed pressed botanicals. Though it is debatable where this all fits on the decor/art spectrum, there are some elements that are a genuine feast for the eyes, like the beautiful and unusual botanical arrangements (such as twigs of dried yellow quinces in black clay vases).
The Company’s Garden Restaurant is housed in a beautiful mid-century room surrounded by magnificent trees. Alongside the building they have created a play area that attracts people of all ages. Along with a giant chess set and reading swing, there is an installation of designer Porky Hefer’s wonderful woven nests, big enough for even an adult or two to hide or play house in.
Iconic South African fast-food chain Nando’s is dramatically extending the concept of art in restaurants by installing original artworks from South Africa in their many branches all over the world. This investment supports many emerging and established artists and gives them wide exposure. It also adds an uplifting dimension to the experience of eating at Nando’s. From the light fittings, to the chairs, to the embroidered soccer players on the walls, and much more - fabulous. Pop in to the flagship store in Long Street or the Sea Point branch, which has had a recent makeover.