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To avoid hazards both street-level and airborne, we take a taxi to dinner. The wind, which had seemed to abate a bit in the late afternoon, has returned with brutal force, and we have difficulty standing upright as we exit the cab. Stepping inside Savoy Cabbage, even though the restaurant is doing a brisk business, feels like passing into a silent realm.

According to some local critics, this restaurant was an early member of Cape Town’s modern dining renaissance. Ten years along, and despite the open, warehouse-like design of the room, it feels comfortable and well-worn; the tension of aspiration is gone, replaced by the sort of warm feeling a place can only achieve with time and continued success. Service is calm and quiet, and so is the food. I start with an inspiring tartare of beef in a truffled sauce that does not overwhelm the rich, almost exotic animalism of the meat. This is followed by a fan of springbok loin (cooked a little past my requested rare) with spätzle and green cabbage, dressed in a sweet-tart sauce that’s a little much for the meat; still, the dish is a success…and I don’t get to eat a team mascot every day.

In celebration of a decade of business, the restaurant’s wine list features some 1998s at very reasonable prices. The rest of the list is well worth a peruse, but the all-too-rare opportunity (for an American) to taste older South African wines is too tempting to pass up.

After a rather late lunch, dessert is not an option. Local spirits are a different story.

The restaurant is a fine value, and quite relaxed and welcoming. It ends up being Theresa’s favorite in the city. And in contrast to the previous night’s meal, it not only features a general absence of fawning service, but – albeit alone among the Cape Town restaurants we’ll visit at dinner – a few non-white patrons. Progress! (11/08)


Copyright © Thor Iverson