The Italians have a saying that means “You don’t age while seated for a meal” and this certainly feels true nestling into the comfy chairs at the new ‘Café Del Sol’ on Parkhurst’s 4th Ave. We popped in hoping to find them open and with a spare table for weary ‘lunchers’.
We were delighted to see the promise of hustle and bustle and good smells inside. We’ll come clean, we are stalkers/super fans here at ‘They’re Wonted’ of the original ‘Café Del Sol’ in Olivedale and the beautiful ‘Botanica’ Del Sol in Bryanston. Mamma Luciana, daughter Chiara and son Ryan have been tirelessly dedicated to feeding ‘Jozi’ bellies since 2007 and we are in awe of them.
The team that welcome you seem as new and shiny as all the pretty glassware and crockery. Happy faces, all eager for you to enjoy the space as they clearly do. After much deliberation we settled on the ‘Bright Young Thing’ starter of salmon carpaccio heightened with this list of sexy ingredients; pickled red onions, avocado mousse, vanilla crème fraiche, fried capers, black sesame, grapefruit, basil shoots and a Campari & grapefruit emulsion. The delicate smoked flavour of the pearlescent salmon slithers and the smooth richness of the avo mousse are balanced beautifully by the acidity of the grapefruit. The almost ‘briney’ satisfaction of fried capers and the nuttiness of the sesame make for a light but deeply satisfying starter.
Lunch with my siblings is one of my life’s great pleasures, it feels deeply comforting to me like winter sunshine or a blanket that smells like home. Aside from our usual shenanigans and the jabs that fly across the table, we never seem to be able to resist any temptations whilst together. The ‘Black lightening’ pasta left us paralysed to not give into the carb temptation. With the gusto of tri-athletes prepping for a race, we tucked into this pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and flambéed whiskey. Served with earthy mushroom powder and a truffle secret, the homemade pasta is silky, and the sauce full of the kind of depth you associate with slow braised beef. The menu might advertise ‘porcini’ mushrooms but this dish comes with so much more, a symphony of cep and other mushrooms lurking between golden sheets of goodness. Warning you might have an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ moment with this dish and pack it all in for 6 months under the Tuscan sun. (Diane Lane’s mansion included in daydream please)
Lastly came dessert because it’s Friday and we don’t want to disrespect the “La Dolce Vita” life and because when you have an afternoon to enjoy with people you love you don’t want it to end. We ordered ‘The Sheik’ a trio of ice cream scoops, Basil, Strawberry and Black Pepper, with shortbread crumble and a sweet sticky balsamic reduction. Cool and refreshing, yet rich and creamy, the basil was our favourite. We’ll be back for the ‘Queen of Sheba’ a concoction of Turkish delight, sugared rose petals and crème Brulee (oh my soul, worth sneaking out the office for!)
‘Café Del Sol Botanica’ holds a special place on my Jozi map, their view of the Sandton skyline and cool pistachio tones always lift my spirits. As a little girl, I thought drinking grapetizer out of a wine glass and a bowl of cheesy gnocchi across from my parents was the height of sophistication, my idea of restaurant bliss. Now the delicate Botanicals and Parisian parlour details of Botanica are pretty close to my idea of dining out heaven. Reserved for Birthdays and anniversaries, uncomfortable high heels and whispers over lipstick stained glasses.
That said, ‘Café Del Sol Tre’ feels like the younger, wilder sister, I want to come back with friends and explore the wine list and wile weekend afternoons away. The Art Deco influences make one want to order cocktails you would never ordinarily drink, daring and explorative sum her up.
I find ‘restaurant reviews’ so endlessly pretentious and boring, a good chinwag about various gathering places where people enjoy each other and what’s on their plates is so much more interesting. In the spirit of languishing Mediterranean lunches, take some downtime from your emails and pull up a chair on this stretch, it’ll be hard to not have a good time.
Carpaccios & Starters between R89.00 -R110.00 / Pastas & Mains between R120.00-R180.00 / Desserts R55.00-R75.00