Date night spot: Café del Sol Botanico

It’s a Sher thing recently visited Café del Sol Botanico for Dyll’s birthday celebrations last week. He wanted something close to home, with great food so he could have a delicious dinner and then go back home to study (he’s doing a medical research study after hours). I immediately thought of Bryanston’s botanical gem, nestled in the nearby Bryanston shopping center. This proudly Italian restaurant and menu is a pleasant surprise of award-winning culinary excellence.

It’s luxurious, ‘green’ setting, delicious menu and views of the beautiful, bustling city makes this restaurant a must-visit for JHB residents. I’d seen their numerous culinary awards and after my experience, it’s clear to see why.

Pina Colada

Drinks

We started off the evening with a pina colada (R75) and a Poretti draught (R65). My pina colada came served in a frosted glass and the granadilla garnish was a welcomed surprise to the usual pineapple garnish. My drink was fruity, delicious, and most welcomed on that warm Summer’s evening. Dyl said his beer was really good, it was crisp and delicious and he would order it again. We enjoyed our drinks on the balcony, next to Landmark bar which is a part of Café del Sol too.

Menu

Starter: Black Mussels (R140)

Thanks to the team of creative, energetic chefs, this is one of the best mussel dishes I’ve ever tasted and I must admit, I consider myself somewhat of a mussel connoisseur as it’s one of my favourite dishes. The portion was big enough for us to share as a starter, the mussels were well sized, very meaty, fresh and were cooked in a fennel, parsley, garlic, and white wine sauce. The fennel added a slight licorice taste to the sauce which made it all the more moreish. I must admit, I licked the shells clean and used the crisp ciabatta bread to lap up all the leftover sauce. This dish really was superb.

Mains:

Seafood Marina Pasta (R210) and Rack of lamb (R295)

The seafood pasta offered a large portion of hand-made spaghetti, in a plain Napoletana sauce, with black mussels (really large in size), prawns and calamari. While delicious I would have maybe enjoyed their creamier pasta more as they do offer a creamy version with a white wine sauce that has a similar flavor to the mussels. The Napoletana sauce is a great option for someone who wants a simpler dish with gentle flavours that keeps the integrity of the fresh ingredients intact. Another personal preference would’ve been for the prawns’ tails to be removed for me so I could just dive into the dish. Although I do realise that some patrons like to see the prawn tails in the dish so they can appreciate their full size.

I usually get the seared salmon with grapefruit or the steak with risotto which I highly recommend as I’ve had those dishes multiple times before. I do love that you have the option to add a little salt (from their magnificent Le Creuset s+p shakers), black pepper and a generous helping of parmesan or fresh chilies to your pasta dishes as these are ‘extras’ that some restaurants charge for. Dyl’s lamb was as soft as butter and the presentation was impressive. The lamb was so flavorsome that you couldn’t help but eat it clean off the bone, I would definitely order this dish again.

Dessert: The famous berry pavlova’s (R90) and cappuccino’s (R28)

The cappuccinos were fab, I always love it when a restaurant can do a great cuppa and they hit the nail on the head with this one. The berry pavlovas were the kind of desserts that dreams are made of. When they arrived, they looked huge and I was already quite full, I was wondering how I would possibly finish this artisanal dessert? However, they were light, delicious and immaculately balanced in terms of the sweet (from the meringue) and tarte (from the berry coulis and berries).  I inhaled the dessert and felt completely full and at peace. If you like meringues you’ll be pleased to know that the bill arrives with colourful, hand-made mini meringues which the chef makes daily. I have my eye on the chocolate tart which I’ll be back to try.

Ambiance:

Café del Sol is designed to be a place where adults can enjoy some of the finest wines and delicious food. This restaurant caters to an eclectic mix of guests from couples on a date, to families celebrating grampies birthday, a girls’ catch up and colleagues having a business lunch or dinner. The bar next door, Landmark has easily accessible plug points, and free wifi, paired with great drinks and Café del Sols tempting menu and you have a fabulous business lunch meeting point. The design is clean, sophisticated and boasts loads of greenery from hanging plants, to a living wall.

Service:

Thulani was our waiter, he was attentive, well informed about the cuisine and made excellent recommendations on what we should order. We were left wanting for nothing and our empty plates never lingered for longer than a minute or two. The manager Charne was a bubbling ball of energy who clearly loves her job, she was also fantastic and checked on us throughout the evening. It was really refreshing to see as she checked on all her guests frequently, cleared plates and gave everyone an opportunity to ask questions or have a quick chat. Should I have had any problems I would’ve found her really approachable to discuss them with.

Added bonuses:

–          Free wifi (fab for working lunches)

–          Plug points at Landmark (fab for working dinners/lunches if the power is out at home)

–          Free parking

–          The center is pet-friendly

–          Great viewpoint with excellent lighting for selfies

I would highly recommend Café del Sol as the perfect restaurant for your next date night / special occasion. They have another branch in Olivedale too if that is more convenient for you.

Opening hours: Café del Sol Botanico is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday. Lunch only on Sunday and they’re closed on Monday.

Trading hours: 12h00 – late

Kitchen hours: 12h00 – 15h00 and 18h00 – 21h30

They’re located inside Bryanston Shopping Center, you can contact them on 011 463 0207 / bookings@cdsbotanico.co.za to make a booking.  



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