The President Hotel’s Delightful New Menu
It’s all change at the President Hotel in Bantry Bay! With some room renovations in the works and a new executive chef on board, I was invited to sample their new menu and spend the night. I had expected standard ‘hotel food’ but was totally blown away by this exceptional experience complete with stunning views, a charming new chef, and excellent food.
Charming and Talented New Chef
New head chef Philip Alcock is a Brit with a love for travel and a passion for ethical produce. He is no stranger to hard work and success after working with Marco Pierre White to open Quo Vadis, which was one of the fastest restaurants to gain a Michelin Star. He is very excited about revolutionising the President Hotel’s food offerings and challenging diners to broaden their palates. As a SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) trailblazer, Philip recognises that our oceans are under threat and aims to showcase sustainably sourced produce in his innovative new tapas and a la carte menus.
Travel-inspired Tapas Menu
The atmosphere of the restaurant really feels like you are in a hotel. But luckily the food makes up for it. I first tucked into bread rolls with a variety of condiments, including olive tapenade, garlic hummus, basil pesto, and butter infused with grainy mustard.
Our first course was a glimpse at 3 of the 20 items from the new tapas menu, which was born out of the chef’s appreciation of South African culture and the rise in sharing and social eating. After having a few disappointing Asian-inspired dishes in Cape Town, I was a bit apprehensive. But as I tasted the Thai Fish Cakes with a Gyoza dipping sauce of soy, garlic and chili, I instantly thought, ‘Finally, you can taste this chef really spent time in Thailand!’
The Sesame Chicken with Spicy Satay peanut sauce was delicious as well and really complemented the pickled vegetables with ginger and chili. The trio of tapas was paired with a Newlands Spring Passionate Blonde Craft Beer, but I’m not much of a beer drinker to fully appreciate it.
Ceviche in 5,4,3,2,1
One of my favourite parts of the evening was their decision to do a brief demonstration of the courses and show us just how easy it is to prepare simple, great food. The chef showed us how to make Ceviche by marinating line fish from Namibia with red onion and allowing the raw fish to cook in the acidity of citrus juice from oranges, lemons and limes.
It only took 5 minutes to prepare and was served with crème fraiche, salmon roe, spiced cucumber, ginger and chili. The plating of the dish was beautiful with ‘coral’ made from flour, squid ink, water and oil for the perfect finishing touch. The fresh fish was really tasty. The only let-down for me was that I found the red onion and ginger a little too overpowering. The ceviche was paired with Rupert and Rothschild Baroness Nadine Chardonnay. It’s safe to say I’m now a Chardonnay girl. It was so light and refreshing it went down a treat with the line fish.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Virgin Mary Consomme palate cleanser. Although it smells a bit like cut grass, the concoction of tomatoes, celery, basil, garlic, and onion served chilled in a small glass tasted more like a shot of Caprese Salad. It really tastes divine but must be served very cold to be fully enjoyed. We were lucky enough to snag the recipe. Get it here.
Keeping it Simple and Fresh
We watched another demonstration of how to create the main course and, once again, Chef Philip emphasised the importance of keeping things simple and fresh. The sea bass from Mozambique was cooked in chorizo fat with tender stem broccoli, new potatoes and pea mint veloute. The fish was delightfully tender and had a nice salty flavour from the chorizo so that it wasn’t overly fishy.
Overall it was a nice, light and fresh meal but I would have liked a bit more sauce with it. The main course was paired with Ken Forrester the FMC Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, which looks very dark and woody but tastes very smooth and has a slightly sweet finish.
Dessert of Dreams
Dessert was a glorious passion fruit panna cota and chocolate brownie with fresh meringue and mint on top. It had a wonderful flavour combination from the rich dark chocolate and the fresh fruity flavours! And it offered very interesting textures as well. Rather than a dessert wine, the final course was paired with Anthonij Rupert Syrah. This red contrasted the sweet dessert well as it had notes of berry and chocolate with quite a smokey aftertaste.
A Room with a View
Aside from the lovely meal, I had the pleasure of spending the night in a beautiful room with a lounge and kitchenette. This apartment-style room has gorgeous views over the uniquely shaped infinity swimming pool and the wild ocean in the distance. It’s a great spot to watch a storm roll in.
A nifty feature that caught my eye was the complimentary Handy mobile device to use during your stay. This offers unlimited calls to 6 countries, free data, and local emergency contacts.
I also appreciated the fact that they reminded us of the water restrictions in Cape Town when we checked in. A nice reminder that hotel facilities are also playing their part in curbing water waste.
The breakfast spread was very impressive with something to please everyone’s palates, including the ‘I only drink coffee for breakfast’ crowd. I started with some continental cheeses and smoked salmon before checking out the egg station for an omelette accompanied with bacon, sausages, beans, and hash browns. My favourite thing was the pancake machine that produced yummy pancakes at the click of a button. I rounded off my morning with a plate of Danish pastries, some fresh fruit, and a pot of English Breakfast tea.
A Wonderful Surprise
Normally I’m not a huge fish eater so I was anxious to try the seafood menu but Chef Philip’s modern approach to classic cuisine served up a truly outstanding meal and I would eat those Thai fishcakes over and over again if I could. Of course dessert is always a highlight for me and this one was a real winner in my opinion. The lovely room and decadent breakfast buffet ticked all the boxes of a great hotel stay for me. I would definitely go back again.
Visit The President Hotel
The President Hotel
Address: 4 Alexander Road, Bantry Bay
Call: +27 (0) 21 434 8111
Article Date: July 2018
All information correct at time of publication. We do not accept any liability caused by errors, including, but not limited to, changes in price, menu, opening times, address, or other contact details.