The Food & Tea Pairing At The Hilton 126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe

126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe Drinks

Alcohol-free cocktails as welcoming drinks

I’ve been to many interesting events in my I Love Foodies time. Wine pairings galore, fancy dinner parties, you name it, I’ve probably experienced it. But just last week I got to experience something entirely new – and how excited I was! See, the Hilton Hotel on Buitenkant Street just recently re-launched, and their new 126 Cape Kitchen and Cafe offers a food and tea pairing.

Yup, food and tea. Have you heard of anything more fascinating? Situated on the outskirts of the Bo Kaap, the Hilton Hotel pays its respects to the Muslim culture by being Halaal-friendly. They used to be a completely Halaal and alcohol-free zone, but now serve alcohol in their upstairs restaurant and, of course, drinks are available for room service. Their downstairs 126 Cape Kitchen and Cafe restaurant, however, is completely alcohol-free. Hence the innovative pairing.

It is a common writing adage that limitations enhance creativity, and I think the same must be said of culinary experiences. Food and wine pairings are the norm. I hardly even know what to have my food with if it’s not a wonderful glass of wine, and it was indeed that question I was pondering about on my way to 126 Cape Kitchen and Cafe. I didn’t know at the time that a tea pairing awaited us.

126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe Tea and Pastry

Tea and pastry pairing

The Hilton itself is beautiful – as is to be expected – and you’ll find wide open spaces, comfortable couches, and a little café section near the entrance, where you can also enjoy a tea and pastry pairing instead of the standard Afternoon Tea. The 126 restaurant is situated towards the back of the ground floor, incorporating elements of Malay, African, and contemporary styles, as is perhaps best illustrated by the beautiful crockery in use, all hand-made for the Hilton.

126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe Beetroot Salad

Goats’ cheese and beetroot salad

We began our culinary adventure admiring the cups and plates (well, at least I did) as we were served the first dish of the evening. This was a Blackened Goats’ Cheese and Beetroot Salad, paired with Spring Darjeeling. The dish was as beautiful as it was tasty, and the tea a lovely addition. A quick note, all the teas are imported from Germany and are not available for retail, so you’re definitely in for a treat here.

126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe Ravioli

Lamb bredie ravioli

This was followed by the Karoo Lamb Bredie Ravioli, paired with the Taiwan Ti Dung. A slightly spicier dish, but not overwhelmingly so, partly due to the fluffiness of the actual ravioli dough. This, in turn, was followed by a Seared Dukkah Crusted Tuna Loin, paired with the Matcha Horai.

126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe Tuna

Seared tuna

126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe Duck

Duck duo

Up next was possibly my favourite dish of the evening. The Crispy Duck Duo, paired with a Rooibos Chocolate Truffle tea. The tea, firstly, was amazing. But the dish itself was also tremendously interesting. The ‘duo’ the title refers to is a crispy duck breast combined with a duck cigar. This latter was probably the yummiest duck concoction I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. The whole thing came served with baby veggies, sweet potato & orange puree, smoked Maldon salt, and a char sui juis. Definite thumbs up from me!

126 Cape Kitchen & Cafe Panna Cotta

Coffee panna cotta with grilled banana

We then moved on to the dessert dish of the evening: Coffee Panna Cotta, served with a Masala Chai tea. The panna cotta tasted like the mocha ice cream my late uncle used to make and brought back many happy childhood memories. Which reminds me: If anyone knows where to find the best mocha/coffee ice cream in Cape Town, please do pop me a mail. I have yet to find one that matches my uncle’s superior one!

I digress. Back to the food and tea pairing, concluded by the lovely dessert dish. All in all, this was a remarkable evening. I was thoroughly impressed by the hospitality of the Hilton management and staff, who joined us for the evening, as well as by the originality of the dishes and the pairing.

One of my best friends is Muslim and I’m always looking for new places to share with her. So, Nads, get ready, there’s a 126 lunch or dinner invitation waiting for you! But even if it’s not religious or dietary restrictions that are keeping you from drinking, I’d highly suggest you check out this very original dining experience. We all know we could do with an evening that doesn’t involve alcohol!

For more information on the Hilton Hotel and 126 Cape Kitchen and Cafe, visit the official website here. If you’ve tried this pairing or know of any other original pairings that you think we should try, please let us know!

We’ll be back with more foodies news very soon!

Written by Benike Palfi

Article Date: May 2017