{eat} Food is king at Kong: a reprieve from the concrete jungle

Want to escape the concrete jungle of the city for a bit? Swing into Kong  for a tropical breather, and a lush dinner between the greenery.

Introduction

Situated on the bustling strip of Cape Town’s stunning De Waterkant, Kong offers an upmarket haven to those who want to break away from the grey monotony of the city. Without having to purchase flight tickets, a few hours in the green embrace of this uber-trendy restaurant / sports bar will leave you feeling suitably relaxed and revived.

When the generous offer came along to enjoy an early dinner mid-week with The Tall Hedonist, I was on it like King Kong on the Empire State building. I had the jungle fever and I knew just the place to unwind.

Background

Kong is a fresh, upmarket, restaurant/sports bar serving delicious, intercontinental cuisine in a vibrant yet laid-back upscale environment. Colourful, contemporary and retro come together in this welcoming, lush gastropub.

The trendy and modern bistro-style food, with Eastern, European and Asian influences, is made in-house—with an emphasis on freshness, using local supplies and seasonal produce which complements our chic interior and tropical ambiance.

Boasting numerous TV’s for viewing sports matches, two fully serviced dining areas, a rooftop deck with adjoining pool table rooms and a nightclub sound system – Kong caters to all your dining, drinking and entertainment needs (https://www.kongcapetown.co.za/).

The jungle

I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive at the thought of a sports bar. Riddled with hazy memories of my student days, I grudgingly admit to having preconceptions about these places. Rowdy crowds, cheap happy hours and greasy pub grub immediately comes to mind. However, I was intrigued with the concept of Kong as I browsed their socials somewhat obsessively. I was persuaded by my curiosity to revisit my idea of a student waterhole. What I found, however, was a whole different kettle of fish.

The giant daisy-yellow iron Kong on the roof was probably the giveaway as to where we were going. Looking out over De Waterkant, this neon ape was simply eye-catching and unmistakable. We stepped into a cool and chic venue with gorgeously low light, filled to the rafters with quirky-classic art pieces, graffiti-inspired murals, hanging plants, tropical prints and mix-and-match décor. A full bar and dining room comprised the lower level, with TV’s on the walls for sport.

At the top of the stairs, the venue opened up into a second dining space and bar area, connecting with the outside deck and pool table rooms. Continuing with the tropical theme, the upstairs area was decorated similarly to the lower dining area, with the added bonus of the DJ booth and a more relaxed feel.

Feeling suitably charmed by the space, I continued my expedition to the outside area, which was an absolute feast for the eyes. Little tables were tucked away next to vertical living walls, whilst gorgeous wooden paneling and heavy doors tied the retro-contemporary look together. A tropical oasis in the middle of the city, completely hidden from the outside world, Kong’s rooftop bar area is a sight to behold. Carefully imagined and executed by the owner himself, this is an Instagram-worthy space for those after-work get-togethers and relaxed al-fresco dining.

Starters

Once we were done exploring the jungle, we got our bearings back to our table, where treats from the kitchen awaited. A cheeky monkey interpretation of fish and chips, in the form of whitebait, and veggie maki rolls started our sensory taste journey of Kong’s kitchen. A salute to the sports bar, we ordered Devil’s Peak drafts and sat back to enjoy an evening that has already filled us with wonder and whimsy.

For starters, we opted for sharing tapas plates: patatas bravas, with a gorgeous tomato sauce, fall-off-the-bone pork loin riblets and pepperdews stuffed with labneh. Last mentioned was an innovative take on the pepperdew and feta variety, and the rich, creamy labneh was a perfect match for the tangy peppers.

At this point, I was suitably blown away. I was not expecting gastro-pub dining in a place that was considered a sports bar. I was also not expecting a giant neon ape on the top of the building (should I have, all things considered?), but here we are. I was completely besotted with our starters, and the menu was seasonal and fresh, with a focus on innovative, inter-continental fusion dishes. The space was incredible, the service impeccable and the vibes awesome. Our host for the evening, Peter, was a lovely addition to our experience, happily chatting to us about the menu, the inspiration and everything in between, whilst effortlessly looking after all our needs.

Mains

For mains, The Tall Hedonist opted for the Asian-inspired chicken burger on a brioche roll, with jalapeno and pineapple chutney, served with sweet potato fries. I opted for a dish from the Chef’s Specials menu (which changes frequently): compressed pork belly with celeriac puree, pak choi and crackling.

To say that we feasted is an understatement. The mains presented beautifully and tasted every bit as good as it looked. In fact, when Peter came to check up on us, we were still busy photographing the dishes, reluctant to destroy the plating!

Whilst enjoying a bit of a breather and a glass of wine, we looked around and saw that Kong has filled up for the most part with groups of friends, colleagues and couples. The DJ was warming up his sets softly in the background (I really enjoyed the house-y vibes) and the rooftop bar was a chatter of after-workers enjoying drinks and tapas. I couldn’t help but think that I’ve been missing out all this time on the adventure that is Kong.

Why you should eat dessert first

I used to think you should save the best for last (ie eat your greens before sweets) but promise me this: when you visit Kong, eat your dessert first! We chose two desserts from the Chef’s Specials menu and they were both incredible.

I finally got my chance to indulge in a baked Alaska flambé, and The Tall Hedonist opted for the baklava cheesecake. Flambeéd tableside with quality Cognac, this dessert is something to behold. Caramelised, browned Italian meringue envelops a scoop of Christmas cake ice cream, on a base of ginger sponge. If you like Christmas spices, you’ll be willing to trek across the jungle for this one.

The baklava cheesecake was every bit as pretty as I hoped. Fromage blanc ice cream with a speculoos crumb and shards of crispy phyllo pastry, sprinkled with an aromatic syrup and toasted nuts, this is simply the best of both worlds. The tanginess of the fromage blanc ice cream tempers out the super sweet notes of baklava, offering the discerning foodie an absolute taste adventure.

In conclusion

A great find in the heart of the concrete jungle that is our mother city. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, or in this case, a restaurant by it’s daisy yellow ape. I couldn’t have been more pleased with our dinner adventure at Kong. Kong modernizes the age-old concept of a sports bar and turns it into a super-chic space where the most important things are good company, great food, and awesome vibes. 

Thank you, Kong, for embracing us for an evening in your tropical arms. We walked out feeling rejuvenated and ever so relaxed, but more so, hungry for a second visit!

Second photographer: The Tall Hedonist, aka 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 personal capacity. 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.

The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.

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