Picture the scene: lazy Saturday lunchtime, penultimate day of official South African summer, blue skies, beautiful people, drool-worthy food stalls, long communal tables stretching the length of market tents, overlooked by hanging baskets of shrubbery with bottles of wine plonked along at various intervals. Welcome to the Neighbourhood Market at the Biscuit Mill in Cape Town’s happening suburb of Woodstock…
…grab yourself a beer or a cane sugar and rum cocktail and survey the scene; it’s essentially a slightly crowded but totally delicious version of heaven.
I say ‘lazy’ with a degree of artistic license - The Blonde had been up since 5am doing his producer thang; I rocked up at the Tiger House location at a more socially acceptable hour, hung about for a while committing on-set faux pas such as eating from the actor’s sandwich platters before The Blonde took pity and drove us down to Woodstock for a market mooch and slap-up lunch at The Pot Luck Club.
Said restaurant is the sister of Test Kitchen; Cape Town’s hottest foodie property. To secure a table there you need to book months in advance. Us laisez faire individuals are more than happy with its sibling’s relaxed take on reservations (you should be good to go at PLC with a few weeks notice).
You access Pot Luck Club via a glass lift at the corner of the market; it’s situated on the sixth floor so offers great visual opportunity to check out the hipsters below, plot your market route and get some take-your-breath-away views of the city.
You know, as soon as the lift doors open, that you’re in for a good time; the open plan kitchen emits heavenly scents and the air is thick with that idiosyncratic restaurant l’eau d’anticipation and optimism of a beautiful meal to come.
It’s a good looking beast, The Pot Luck Club- panoramic views, parquet flooring, great crockery, fancy stemware and a price point that reads like a Pizza Express menu (gotta love that rand)
You choose about 3-4 dishes per person and mark up your selection on the notepad provided. Then just lay back and don’t think of mediocre dim sum at Ping Pong (who employ a similar ordering tactic) - or maybe do; it might heighten your senses for what is to come…
We went for nine dishes, just to be on the safe side of the wolf’s door, you know.
The clever Luke Dale Roberts; Man of the kitchen and the hour has broken his menu down according to your palette. Dishes arrive as and when, so your mouth is in a constant state of surprise and delight.
First up, sour dough, sweet and smoky roasted garlic, tapenade and olives
Steamed edamame with miso and toasted garlic salt
Fresh fish tacos Pot Club style - miniature bites of fresh, zesty, crunchy, creamy awesomeness (Cape Town kills it when it comes to avos, aka avocados)
Korean fried chicken with a caramelised spicy crust and pineapple miso slaw; although there is an entire section of the menu dedicated to ‘umami’, in truth a lot of the mooreish but light plates pay homage to this fifth sense to brilliant effect.
5 spice roasted pork belly with whole cured roasted baby apple. Served with a sort of air-dried crackling and topped with sweet halva, perfectly complementing this melting piggy.
But the star of the show has to be the smoked beef fillet with black pepper and truffle cafe au lait. Cooked sous vide and finished off in the pan for extra tenderness. I’ll never be able to do verbal justice to this dish; it was quite simply unlike any other. As soon as The Blonde put fork to mouth he was already summoning the waiter back to beg for another plate. But, alas, the kitchen had shut up shop on the savoury front. I sort of want to weep recalling the tragedy of this incident. My kingdom for that beef…
Blood orange and gin sorbet, sake compressed watermelon and bitter jellies- acidicly erasing all creamy luxurious memories of truffled beef in the best possible way.
Nectarine and almond tart with malted popcorn ice cream - a sort of honeycomb popped corn praline crumbled on top; This pudding is responsible for one of the many moments I decided to move to Cape Town asap.
Malted chocolate fondant with stem ginger icing. Malt and chocolate - does it get any better? Make it gooey and melty and you’ve just turned it up to eleven. Bravo Pot Luck Club.
Mint tea to finish, it was a mint tea but I just love that cup and saucer. There was a shop underneath the restaurant selling similar stoneware, not sure that’s where it was from but aint it pretty?
And, of course, speaking of pretty, there’s THAT view. I’ll have seconds, thirds and fifteenths of that guy, please.
Pot Luck Club, Silo Top Floor, The Old Biscuit Mill, 373-375 Albert Road Woodstock, Cape Town