You’d be forgiven for missing Workshop 55, as I did. No clear signage outside, you’ve probably driven past it a bunch of times and don’t even know it. But I urge you to stop! Find them on Google Maps and turn into that somewhat obscure parking spot. Thank me later.
Off-street parking is available, under the watchful eye of a friendly security guard. And now you can choose! And both your options are excellent. Either you head in and right to the Lounge and Bar area, where you can snack off the bar menu until 17:30 (in winter), while seated at the sexy bar or in one of the lovely lounge chairs, musing with friends about the interesting art on display. Or you can head straight into the restaurant, for a delectable dining experience.
As it happened, I waited at the bar for my dining partner to arrive, and got to experience the lounge and bar. This was a lovely way to while away the time. As someone who doesn’t enjoy sugar, I wanted a cocktail but was hesitant. The barman ended up asking me what I’d like and which flavour profile I would enjoy (sweet, bitter, etc.). I explained that I was driving and needed a virgin cocktail of some sort but something with very little sugar, and that I preferred a sour profile. I never found out what my cocktail was made of but it was amazing! And just something off the cuff that the barman whipped up for me. I was duly impressed. At 17:30, the bar menus were removed. That was okay, as my dining partner had arrived and we made our way to the restaurant section for an early dinner.
One thing to note here is that, upon arrival, you automatically get billed R240. This is not a cover charge so much as payment toward your food bill. For that R240, you get to order 3 tapas dishes off the restaurant menu. Their menu is small but well curated.
I had a tough time choosing my tapas! There were so many things on the menu I wanted to try but I already knew, though it was tapas, that the food would be substantially filling and I was sitting with a gigantic cocktail in my hands. So after much excruciating thought, I finally decided on:
Fennel & Anchovy
Lamb Shoulder Ravioli
My dining partner opted for:
I was soooooo close to ordering the Bone Marrow dish but decided I had had it far too often and there were too many interesting things on offer to have the same old same old. Luckily for me, I had an obliging companion and I got to taste all of the dishes.
Welcome snack of deep-fried veggies
The food arrived in style with beautiful plating and on gorgeous crockery and dishes, with a little flair here and there, as with the Smoked Tuna dish.
It is really difficult to choose a favourite dish here but top of the list for me was the Camembert (always cheese with me) and the Beef Carpaccio. The carpaccio had a delicate soy flavour that didn’t overpower but added just the right amount of saltiness. I loved the addition of naked edamame beans! This was my favourite single element. The chilli mayo on the plate is the perfect accompaniment to create some zing in each bite.
The Camembert was surprisingly well-paired with the mushrooms on the plate, which I found unusual but which created harmony. The herb biscuit rounds it off exactly, adding lovely herb flavours to an already great taste profile. And of course, garlic! Nothing adds the cherry on the top for me quite as much as garlic, and here it was again just right.
The truffle puree adds a very special taste to the Arancini dish, and sets it apart from the same dish I’ve had elsewhere. Great caramelised onion flavours, wonderful risotto texture and another interesting but well-matched taste from the cauliflower, with a little extra punch coming in the form of spring onion.
I took too long photographing my Lamb Shoulder Ravioli and it was not warm anymore by the time I ate it, which is my own fault because I feel that, enjoyed warm, it would have won best dish prize. The romesco sauce was a thing of beauty! I will definitely go back to try this dish again.
The Fennel & Anchovy dish was another favourite. It had a lot of fresh ingredients, which I always enjoy, and was expertly plated. Don’t think of anchovy in the traditional sense of the word. This is a white anchovy that’s not pickled or salty. A nice tart bite does however come from added pickle, and the great crunchy textures of the fresh ingredients are well accompanied by the soft plumes of apple sponge.
The Smoked Tuna had the most flair, coming in a dome covered plate with smoke enveloping the dish. I wasn’t fast enough to grab a photo before they lifted the top but it was gorgeous. Generous, thick tuna discs, wonderfully smoky, lie on a bed of beetroot and horseradish slaw, topped with a flavourful citrus dressing, accompanied by goats milk chevre and a delicate seawood caviar. The hickory smoke element here makes this a must-try dish.
If the food scene and the R240 minimum is not for you, just remember you can always head to the lounge instead for drinks only.
For dessert, I opted for coffee as I usually do. My dining partner was happy to try one of the desserts and chose the Chocolate Custard Tart, which the waiter approved of wholeheartedly, listing it as his own favourite. This sexy tart gets so many points for looking absolutely gorgeous and making me regret my life choices (coffee!). It delivers on taste. I had a small bite and took half of it home for Tall Dark & Handsome, who also enjoyed it thoroughly. It comes with light pistachio ice cream and beautiful deep pink Turkish Delight.
The restaurant section is small and intimate but warmly infused with soft lighting. A perfect date night location to really wow your special someone. Service is excellent and knowledgeable. Our waiter, Arnold, was fantastic. The small kitchen is open to the restaurant and you can easily watch your meal being put together if you’re so inclined. By the time we wrapped up, it was full to the brim and bustling with conversation and happy diners.
My thanks to Workshop 55 for this lovely opportunity to try out your menu.
This is a sponsored post.