Bombay Bicycle Club
If you’ve lived in or around Cape Town for more than a couple of years and your feet has not lead you to the wacky shack at the top of Kloofnek Street, you need to reconsider your life’s decisions. Bombay Bicycle Club guarantees a night full of theatrics, entertainment, intrigue and exquisite cuisine. Come and be dazzled at this well-known Cape Town institution – you will leave with a lighter step, glitter on your face and memories to last you a lifetime.
Setting the scene
I was introduced to the Bombay Bicycle Club a few years back by my cousin, and that one exquisite night of dining has stuck with me since then. Needless to say, I was over the moon when the Madame Zingara Group gave me the opportunity to re-visit their crown jewel establishment for dinner. I immediately decided I had to share the Bombay love with fellow foodies, so we invited two of our close friends to join us.
I have been wondering for weeks now about how best to describe the Bombay Bicycle Club. I’ve attempted writing several paragraphs, but then just ended up backspacing them all, because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t do it justice. So, I decided a string of adjectives might help paint the picture of this moody red building at the top of Kloof Street. Here goes.
It’s organised chaos. It’s a harmonious union of influences and styles. It’s magical and whimsical and outright wacky. It’s vintage and retro, but with a laid-back touch of flowery bohemian. It’s every day and out of this world at the same time. It’s local and proudly Capetonian with a dash of European flair. It’s theatrical and loud and in your face, without being bombastic or obnoxious. It’s actually quite unassuming in a confident way. It’s an uber-modern museum of hand-selected paraphernalia, filled with treasures to feast your eyes on. It’s as vibey as their Mojitos, and as refreshing as their gin inspired craft cocktails. It’s an experience not to be missed, because it’s oh so very hedonistic!
And with all of that said, I haven’t even touched on the food. We allowed ourselves to be dazzled on a Saturday evening and our reception was just as glittery as our hostess’ dramatically beautiful eye make-up. We got a cozy corner table upstairs, from where we had a bird’s eye view over all the activities downstairs. We had to warm up with a round of cocktails, as this is one of the biggest attractions to Bombay Bicycle Club. But there’s nothing ordinary about their cocktails.
There’s nothing worse than a Mojito that tastes like those little bottles of artificial mint flavourings you find on the shelves of your friendly grocery store. Or something that’s supposed to taste like mango, but it’s so luminous in colour that you have to wonder if it’s radioactive material from outer space instead. Bombay Bicycle Club uses a magic potion called “Bottings.” Bottings is a range of naturally infused, locally-made fresh fruit pulps and purees. No baddies in here! All of the natural, locally sourced goodness, adding a touch of gloriousness to your cocktail with African sun ripened fruits.
We ordered a classic Mojito and Daiquiri (because you have to be able to get the basics right!) and two of their gin-inspired craft cocktails. After several taste tests across the table, the vote was unanimous – the best the Mother City can offer! Beautifully served, simply presented – all of the taste and none of the frills. The drinks menu is also a carefully selected affair that caters to all tastes and preferences, making this one of the most exciting cocktail menus I’ve seen to date.
Suitably warmed up, we ordered a selection of starters. Being the little hedonist that I am, I got everyone to agree to share different starters, as I couldn’t just settle for one! I had to have them all (insert evil villain laugh here)! We decided on the drunken camembert, chicken, corn & cheddar croquettes and two portions of the jalapeno & bacon wonton cups. Boy, am I glad we ordered two portions of those!
Whilst we waited for our starters, the quirky venue was filling up faster than what I could say abracadabra. The vibe was slowly picking up and we found ourselves being completely absorbed in the warm, embracing “zusammenhaltsgefuhl” that Bombay so naturally lends itself to. Everyone choose to spend their evening here in anticipation of good food, good company and good service. And that is the common denominator between the cosmopolitan mix of patrons, which automatically infuses the restaurant with feel good vibes.
The starters were lip-smackingly good, and very generous. Again, the presentation was simplistically elegant; the perfect ratio of pretty food to comfort dining. The beetroot chutney elevated the creamy richness of the beer-battered camembert to heights that cheese is not meant to soar at. The chicken, corn and & cheddar croquettes took me right back to the year I spent in the Netherlands – they were filled with nostalgic memories of European cuisine and balmy summer evenings. The jalapeno and bacon wonton cups were the bomb. Absolute genius. The crispy baked wontons delicately held dollops of the most creamy, sweet-salty, zingy and ever-so-spicy filling. The salsa added that hit of freshness to cut through the lush ingredients and left you craving another platter of wonton wonder.
The main event
Taste buds exercised and raring to go, the mains didn’t disappoint – there was (on our very full table!) a Bombay cheese burger, a Melanzane Parmigiano, a Slow Roasted Pork Belly and the all-time show stopping signature Bombay dish, a Chocolate Chilli Steak. I had to sit back and just admire the art on the plates. The various elements on each plate weren’t competing for attention; quite the opposite, in fact. The ingredients formed a coherent, harmonious whole that told stories of passion, talent, dedication and the aim to please.
We ate and shared and laughed and joked and ate some more. If I were to choose a last meal, this would probably be the closest to my ideal dining experience in this world. The perfect setting, the perfect company, the perfect food and the most perfect memories. We debated whether or not to have dessert and decided that life is in fact way too short not to. In retrospect, I’m so glad we did eat dessert that night.
We shared portions of the Chocolate Chilli & Ginger Malva Pudding, the New York baked cheese cake and the Bombay Cigars. Spoons went flying all over the table to get a taste of each other’s desserts, and believe me there was plenty to go round. Bombay Bicycle Club gives the traditional, classic South African malva pudding a facelift of note. They renovate it into a contemporary, modern dessert, filled with delicate flavours that linger long after the last scoop. And how does one even describe the Bombay cigars? Chocolate filled wafer cigars, deep-fried & served with honey & hazelnut ice cream. Hot and cold. Just go. Make a booking and go eat them. I simply don’t have the words to describe this flawlessly constructed dessert other than it’s hedonistically indulgent!
All said and done, Bombay Bicycle Club is an absolute experience. Go there if you want lasting memories of a night filled with all of life’s little pleasures. Go there if you want to eat good, fresh, innovative food plated through unique pairings of quality ingredients. Go there if you have time and want to really savour a good cocktail or two, made with none of the guilt and artificial stuff. Go there if you want to laugh and share and feel good. Go there if you need a refreshing change of scenery. Just go there and be wowed in more ways than I can count on two hands.
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.
**This post was sponsored by the Madame Zingara Group (http://www.madamezingara.com/) who generously wined and dined us for the evening at the Bombay Bicycle Club