There are a few foodie dishes that simply must be prepared to perfection for that ultimate dining experience. These dishes deserve respect and demand your full eating attention. And if they were not prepared by a master craftsman (or woman!) then please just take my plate away. These items include: an impeccably seasoned medium-rare steak, lusciously oozy eggs benedict, a crispy and slightly scorched woodfired pizza base, and then – a perfectly grilled, juicy burger with the correct ratio of bread to toppings. Enter Gibson’s Gourmet Burgers & Ribs.
I recently experienced divine, heavenly burger bliss when I was invited to dine at Gibson’s Gourmet Ribs and Burgers. Twice, because once is simply not enough.
I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of eating at the Waterfront as I usually tend to avoid masses of people and commercial touristy spots. With the exception of the V&A Food Market, of course. Such a fan. But every once in a while, a new dining experience winks at me from the belly of the Waterfront and who am I to leave the call unanswered?
I was more excited than usual about the invite to experience Gibson’s Gourmet Ribs and Burgers. It’s one of those Cape Town institutions that everyone knows and loves. And of course, I’ve never been because I’ve obviously been living under a rock all my adult life. That was all soon to change…
Squarely perched on the waterside of the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, Gibson’s makes it presence known. The sheltered outside dining area is screened from the elements with sleek glass dividers and the massive entrance warmly beckons you inside if you’re more of an inside diner. It’s positively bustling at the best of times. The outside tables, come rain or shine, are always packed with happy diners, feasting on mega-portions of burgers, ribs, shakes and beers. The vibe is electric but not intrusive. It’s loud, but in a good way; in a companionable way that doesn’t detract from your dining experience.
Inside, the high-ceilinged restaurant is modern and minimalistic. A massive bar stretches along the length of the restaurant and contemporary wooden dividers add some dramatic flair to the dining area. The kitchen is adjacent to the dining floor and the busy pass in full view of passers-by. And what a beautiful pass it is; packed with steaming burgers and baskets of fries that never sit long enough to take photos of before they’re whisked away to the tables.
Our first visit was on a Friday evening and we could hear vibey music and happy chatter from quite a distance. Gibson’s was noticeably fuller than any other restaurant along the waterside strip of the mall. We got a lovely little table outside and I already felt quite content with my decision to spend my Friday night at Gibson’s. The sparkly lights of the Waterfront added just the right amount of ambience to the foot-tapping feel of the Friday vibes. The staff were cheerful and friendly, the patrons at their best behaviour and the chatters and music just low enough to still have a decent conversation with your dinner partner.
Before I go any further – have you seen the double whammy menu?! Oh my gosh. My stomach growled at the mere sight of the super expansive burger menu. Of course, it also contains all the other usuals, but that wasn’t what we came for. And neither should you. The top half of the menu was a connoisseur’s palette of gourmet burgers, and the bottom half a rainbow display of ridiculous drool-inspiring milkshakes and freek shakes. We’ll get to those in a minute.
Second time around
We went again on Sunday afternoon, because, as the name suggests, Gibson’s is also famous for gourmet ribs. We ditched the roast potatoes and broccoli bake for another go at this Cape Town institution. This time around, the vibes were completely different. The outside area was still packed, but this time with families and kids and groups of fancily dressed friends. Couples and moms and dads and grandparents filled every seat and there was no need for the Friday beats. Without advertising itself as a Sunday lunch spot, Gibson’s was exactly that. A family restaurant which offers an exciting alternative to the usual roast and two veg.
So back to Friday night. Each with a Gibson’s craft beer in hand, we quite literally poured over the menu to decide what we feel like. If you’re indecisive like me, this should be a nightmare, because there are so many burgers on the menu. But instead of inducing anxiety, I felt really spoilt for choice and excited at the prospect of ordering exactly what I feel like eating. Having said all that, my indecisiveness won and I opted for the trio of sliders: classic, guacamole and cheese. I also ordered half-half fries and sweet potato fries. My dining partner went all out for the Governor’s Cheese & Bacon, because you simply can’t go wrong with that combo. A good helping of sweet potato fries and we were set.
The food arrived promptly; steaming and fresh. The fries were out of this world and cooked to otherworldly excellence. We swapped and tested the burgers around and couldn’t fault any of them. The meat was cooked perfectly medium; it was still juicy and tender, but flame-grilled just enough to crust the outside. The toppings were fresh and crispy. Our plates emptied rapidly, and even though we knew we were way over our limits, we eyed each other and then the milkshake menu.
To round off our very different Friday evening, we ordered Peppermint Crisp and Orange Blossom & Pansies shakes. Oh my. Spilling out of the glass was oodles of delicious indulgence. It’s so much more than just a shake; it’s a pretty meal in a glass. And when you think you can’t eat any more, you find yourself tipping the glass on its side to slurp out the last morsels of ice-creamy goodness. Nobody’s judging.
Second time around
On Sunday, we couldn’t wait to return. I swear we were still full from Friday evening, so we decided to share a portion of baby back ribs and our now-all-time-favourite sweet potato fries. On a sidenote: their Secret Sauce No. 6 is the bomb with sweet potato fries! Love in a bottle. Back to the ribs. Thank goodness we decided to share! It was a decent portion of succulent, fall-off-the-bone, fragrant pork ribs, basted with just enough sauce to not disguise or interfere with the quality cut of meat. Now, you must understand. I’m not a ribs kinda gal. But this! Sublime and incredibly moreish. Coupled with another pair of Gibson’s craft beers, and my Sunday became a full blown Funday.
It’s rare that I find myself returning to places I’ve reviewed before because Cape Town simply has so much to offer. But I’ve been to Gibson’s again since. I’ll shamelessly admit it. It’s simply a full experience; from the beautifully minimalistic venue at the Waterfront, the friendly and super-efficient staff and management, the carefully put together menu that caters to all tastes, price to quality ratio, and relaxed atmosphere.
Gibson’s is not just a restaurant or a burger joint; it’s a feeling. It’s a vibe. It’s a way of living. It’s a brand I can buy into and enjoy every mouthful in the process. Cheers, Gibson’s! I’m coming for the freek shakes next!
Second photographer and photo credit: Timothy P. Gibson
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.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my capacity as photographer/writer as part of a media outreach. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.