Constantia Nek – La Parada & Harbour House
There is nothing more exciting for a true foodie than a culinary adventure that surprises you. I felt truly surprised and inspired walking into Constantia Nek’s new La Parada Tapas Bar last week.
I was met by the rustic historical elements of this legendary building fused with the cozy and chic updates which make you feel like you can kick back with a deep glass of red and remain stationary for the rest of the night.
Wait…….. I’m getting ahead of myself as this is actually the tale of two eateries jointly occupying Cape Town’s oldest restaurant which has undergone a tremendous renovation by the Harbour House Group under the keen eye of local Architect, David Townsend.
Joining the vibey La Parada Tapas Bar on this glorious site is the sophisticated and elegant Harbour House Restaurant which has just recently opened its doors much to the delight of it’s local patrons.
The two eateries share a beautiful and spacious front courtyard for those lazy Sunday brunches Capetonians adore.
We decided to do cocktails and tapas for starters at La Parada. On hand was Manager Ezra to ensure we had everything we needed and our friendly waitress was quick to give us a cocktail overview. Garth had the Whiskey Flower cocktail (pictured right) which consisted of Irish whiskey, fig jam and lime juice finished with some vanilla and elderflower syrup – a delicious and bright cocktail which left him wanting more. I ordered a mocktail version of the Fruit Sling, which usually consists of a light and refreshing blend of raspberry vodka, pimms no. 1, cloudy apply, cranberry and lime juice – delicious but very, very sweet (there’s a reason you need the Vodka)
I had read that master confectionery designer Martin Senekal was recently appointed as Executive Chef at La Parada and I was excited to see how his incomparable creative signature would influence these spanish tapas plates and thankfully that is to be seen everywhere. Having studied at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, Martin has worked at many a high end establishment such as Cape Grace Hotel, 96 Winery Road and The Blue Danube before cementing himself as a confectionery master in his own right – see www.martinsenekal.com
For our evening’s appetizers, we decided to order four different types of tapas namely: Seared Sesame Crusted Tuna – a fine bean and green olive salad, oven dried tomatoes, orange, calamata olives, anchovy and citrus dressing. The textures of this dish is amazing, I loved the fine dice on the green beans, the tartness of the tomatoes and the acidity of the orange and olive with the seared tuna was refreshing and bold.
Beef Shin Croquetas with Sriracha alioli – wow what a unique bite size sensation – certainly not something I have had before and a welcome tapas addition. The beef shin is melt in your mouth, perfectly seasoned and the croquetas are perfectly crispy.
Roasted Pork Belly with rosemary roasted apple sauce, smoked paprika and honey glaze, pickling onions and pork crackling – well folks, mic drop ….. Chef Martin Senekal has outdone himself here – a little plate of perfection, the glaze and the tender pork belly is a marriage made in heaven, not to mention the crispy pork crackling – nom, nom, nom, gimme more!
Apple and Walnut Baked Doughnut with coconut macaron, butterscotch sauce, pistachio and milk chocolate ganache – although all the flavours were here, the baked doughnut was unfortunately quite dry which left one feeling a little underwhelmed as the description on the menu left you wanting decadent and succulent ooey gooeyness.
Constantia Nek La Parada Tapas Bar is a fabulously cozy and vibey spot with delicious tapas dishes, a vast variety of beverages, friendly service and a never-wanna-leave atmosphere.
Onwards, we were booked to go next door and give Harbour House a try for our mains and dessert and were delighted to find not a continuation of the former, albeit amazing La Parada but an entirely different restaurant akin to to it’s sister restaurants in both V & A Waterfront and Kalk Bay.
With its soft art gallery-esque lighting and clean lines this venue feels crisp, clean and inviting. We were a little early so not too many patrons but this soon changed.
The bar is cozy and tucked away next to the kitchen so as to elicit as little as possible noise and give way to the chitter chatter of the diningroom.
Garth selected a lovely Paradyskloof Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, with aromas of raspberry and leather, red fruit and spice with a lingering finish to pair with our meal.
The fish of the day was displayed on the black board with many a tantalising option but eventually we both opted for the Norwegian Salmon done two different ways.
Deliciously seared Norwegian Salmon on a bed of garlic mash, rocket, green beans topped with a soft poached egg served with salsa verde and a japanese mayo.
Another Norwegian Salmon with a dill cream sauce, roasted vegetables and a creamy rosemary potato bake. The former definitely being the better selection as the garlic mash absolutely was the best accompaniment for this delicate fish. The dill cream sauce unfortunately did not do the same for my fish, as it came up a bit bland but hubby shared his mash and salsa verde and it was heaven.
As dusk fell, the restaurant definitely filled up, surprisingly so for a Thursday night – the later it got, the livelier the dining room got – it turned into a lovely and festive atmosphere.
The lovely lighting outside just enough to take in the commanding views of the rolling Constantiaberg mountain range from the wall-to-ceiling windows.
For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Tart – a dark chocolate and almond tart with salted caramel popcorn and vanilla ice cream – this tart is delicious, decadent and rich and I just had to take some home to eat in bed in my pyjamas, pure bliss.
by far the best I have ever had was their New York Style Baked Cheesecake with a berry compote and cinnamon ice cream, creamy with an ever so slight tangy tartness with just enough sweetness to kiss your last spoonful goodnight.
Our waiter, Igor was exceptional and the hostess Michaela was warm, inviting and cheerful – we had an exceptional time and I see this restaurant only getting increasingly popular with time and the ongoing support of their community.
NOTE: We enjoyed our meals at both La Parada and Harbour House as complimentary but all photographs and views are our own.
Source: The Food Buzz – Constantia Nek – La Parada & Harbour House