In Cape Town, our heart to heart conversations, the spectacular views from the nineteenth floor, the desserts and top-of-its-class service made for a delightful affair that evening. Dining at ON19 restaurant in Westin, Cape Town will always count as one unforgettable experience of my trip to South Africa. 48 hours were two less to spend in one of the most beautiful cities of the world but with experiences like this, I made the best of my time there. For this dinner date, I was excited all the way from Johannesburg. Why? Because not everyday you get to be in world famous city of Cape Town, be lost hand-in-hand with your favorite one and have access to incredible views of the city and the Table Mountain right from your dinner table.
From Kloof Nek Road, google maps directed us towards ‘Cape Town International Convention Center’ (CTICC). In fifteen minutes, we were standing inside the only starwood property in Cape Town. Overlooking the famous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Westin is located adjacent to the CTICC. The staff welcomed us with a warm and polite smile. Though the name itself was giving it and directions in the hotel were clearly showing me the way to the lift yet I confirmed if I was supposed to go on the 19th floor. The lady at the reception nodded in affirmation. The lift opened into a brightly colored lobby and one more right turn led us into a beautiful lounge. It looked like a private affair but was open for everyone who loved to eat and enjoy heavenly spa.
Since you are here to enjoy the views, choose the best corner!!!
I was delighted to see a warm, quiet and brightly lit setting. Dim lights and loud music don’t make me happy. After an early start from Johannesburg to Cape Town and a trip to the top of Table Mountain in the day, we were pretty exhausted and needed just this. The first impression of the restaurant promised me an enjoyable and cozy evening. The seat for two was just at the right corner and seemed to be waiting only for us. To add to our delight, it was close to the window and looked out to three sides of the city. No doubt, the city looked gorgeous even in the night and we could see the harbor closely. I noticed a joyous smile on hubby’s face and everything around me gave me kicking joy. The ambiance was uncluttered, stylish and pretty but the panoramic and generous views from the nineteenth floor made this spot a hands down winner. For the next few minutes I walked around all the ends of the restaurant and clicked pictures without disturbing the people. As a typical Punjabi who loves food, hubby scanned through the menu. I was enjoying identifying the near and far away buildings, looking at the skyline and absorbing the astounding views of the city, mountains and the sea. I bet, this would have been better in the day with clear views of the Table Mountain but I was absolutely enjoying a different look of the city with the fall of the night.
Also, it was a winter night and sun had already set, therefore I wouldn’t say we got the best views but the manager told us that in summers this was definitely the place to be to enjoy a perfect evening date taking in the starters while the sun is still shining, savoring the main course at sunset and happily digging in the dessert with the fall of the night. However, I was extremely happy with what I had in my hand. It was pictue perfect. While hubby was quick to order a Miso Ramen (Saba noodles, shitake mushroombok choi, scallion, bamboo shoots, grilled tofu), I had yet not spared time to look at the uncomplicated one-page, two-sided menu. Even though there were plenty of options for the non-vegetarians, I decided to go for a veggie dish as the fusion read appealing to me. I ordered for wild mushrooms with roasted garlic panna cotta and brioche crumble. As the name, the flavors also stood out.
Now, lets talk about food and services!!!
When it comes to restaurants from luxury hospitality brands, we usually tend to ignore their efforts thinking that they do not give us the local flavors or have a sophisticated fixed menu or are too high on our pockets. But in my opinion, these elegant and contemporary hotels not only serve delicacies from across the world but they also fulfill added responsibilities. First, these restaurants have to live up to the brand’s reputation and second they have to compete with the individual foodie joints as well. I was not sure how ON19 would fair on the taste part but it had impressed me with its location and services so far. And as soon as I ate the first bite of the starters on my table, the wild mushrooms with roasted garlic panna cotta and brioche crumble took charge of my taste buds almost instantly. And I did not stop after the first bite. It was filling enough to see me through the next meal and fairly healthy too. I was also satisfied that thankfully ON19 was not just about fine dining, gorgeous views, posh outlook but also polished flavors.
The three-course dinner had a short menu but great food and a decent wine selection. Since we both don’t drink wine, husband and I opted for a fresh mango juice and some red Grapetiser (an indulgent sparkling grape juice that we had started drinking in Johannesburg). With very few vegetarian options, hubby decided to go for pasta with zucchini and tomato but I gave in to my love for chicken. I was eager to taste the Signature Chicken Curry. It not only sounded Indian to me but also pretty wholesome with chappatis, rice and pickle. I was curious to see what kind of fusion chicken curry was being served here to the international clientele. Indeed, it was interesting and quite a big meal. The chicken curry was delicious. It had its unique taste and it was nothing close to Indian recipes but I was amused to see pickle, chappati, rice, yogurt and salads just like we prefer it back home. The pasta was nothing extraordinary and its portion was less too. In a good way, it left enough room for the desserts.
Husband has a sweet tooth and therefore he was absolutely excited about these delightful sugary options. The two desserts that we ordered were very well presented and had great flavors! The chocolate pudding with ice cream and honeycomb on top was a perfect combination of flavors and was one of the best I had ever had. The baked lemon cheese did not disappoint too. The red velvet cake on top of it tasted heavenly. We were not only full but satisfied too.
I must not forget to mention that our table was attended very timely and the staff at the hotel was attentive, friendly and very helpful. Every time we ordered something, the person serving our table helped us with the size of the portions. He had also warned me that I shouldn’t be expecting an Indian style Chicken Curry. I liked his friendly inputs. We ordered our two desserts purely based on his recommendations. Overall, he was an experienced and affable chap and we loved talking to him.
After the meal, I sat down to chat with the manager and he quickly briefed me about other dining and relaxation opportunities at the hotel. LOUIS B’S BAR AND LOUNGE and THIRTY7 were other places that the guests loved to be at in the hotel. And of course, we discussed about my two favorites things about Westin – SuperFoodsRx™ and Westin Sleep Well Menu. He also told me about the famous ‘Full Moon Dinner’ night celebration every month- a four course meal with personalized astrology card readings.
It had already been three hours that we had been there but we could still see the same group of families and friends enjoying their meal and drinks. By the time we decided to leave, almost all the tables were occupied. This proved that the locals as well as the guests of the hotel loved coming here and it was a buzzing place for sure. Whenever you are in Cape Town in South Africa, don’t forget to go to this gorgeous place where you can have your own corner, grab tall wine glasses, let your taste buds appreciate the incredible food and look out over Cape Town. This place was absolutely an hit with me.
P.S. The invite to ON19 was extended to me by Westin Hotel but my views are absolutely personal and unbiased.