Savagely Good Dining at Belly of the Beast

Words: Julie Velosa

Venturing into the Belly of the Beast might sound like a perilous way to dine, but rest assured, you’re in the capable hands of chef-owners, Neil Swart and Anouchka Horn, and their team.belly-of-the-beast-team

Discovering the Depths of the Beast

The restaurant has been a part of the streets of the East City Precinct long before it was a trendy place to hang out. Paradoxically, it is revered for its incredible offering, yet operates without the pageantry of some of its peers. It’s just there, and if you know, you know.

What has consistently set Belly of the Beast apart is its unapologetic authenticity. The menu is set and is served in one seating to the whole restaurant. There are no substitutions – yes, they’ll accommodate allergies but no, they won’t change the dish just because you don’t like coriander. They craft their dishes and they create their flavours for an audience that knows to trust the chef. The conviction not to bend to the will of the masses is admirable; sure it won’t suit everyone but that’s ok, neither does pineapple on a pizza.

What has consistently set Belly of the Beast apart is its unapologetic authenticity.

A Tapestry of Flavour

Lunch at Belly of the Beast is more than a meal, it’s an experience. The menu appears deceptively simple – Snack, Local Fish, Pap & Vleis – however, there is nothing simple about it. It’s a tapestry of flavours meticulously woven together, complemented by an impeccable selection of local wines, curated to amplify each bite.

The ‘Snack’ course was the opening act and completely captured our palates. A delicate Silvers ceviche with homemade ponzu (we could have bottled and sipped on for the rest of the meal), lemon pepper mayo and ethereally light rice crisps. Utterly delightful.

Start with Kabous

The course ‘Kabous’ is affectionately named after the dough starter used to make the delicious country loaf element of this bread course. It arrived with umami-rich Bovril butter, a creamy chicken liver parfait adorned with dill and a hazelnut crumb, and a venison carpaccio with stracciatella cheese, pickled onions, and a vibrant smoked tomato oil. This exceptional dish was accompanied by Strandveld Pofadderbos Sauvignon Blanc, a wine equally deserving of admiration.


Meat Meat, A Girl Must Eat

‘Pap & Vleis’ was a personal favourite – a sincere homage to this humble local staple. Lamb Leg is sous vide and then fired over the charcoal grill until moreishly smoky and tender.

Accompanying the lamb was a smoked jalapeño and charred corn pap, tomato smoor, and punchy chimichurri. I never need to be convinced to tuck into pap and vleis, but this dish levelled things up. Not only gorgeous to look at but a real triumph that elevated this from homely favourite to restaurant-worthy superstar.

A Duo of Desserts

I am all about the double desserts and these two final courses were suitably sweet and satisfying.

The cheesecake course had the option of being paired with a glass of sweet Noble Late Harvest or a drier Brut MCC, which made for a refreshing change. The Paul René bubbly we selected was a perfect match for the lemony cheesecake, crowned with treacle apples and pecan nut crumb. This dish was the culinary consummation of cheesecake and an apple pie. The result? A bouncing bowl of dessert goodness that I would happily have again.

The petit four, a Peppermint Crisp cookie with caramel cream, is a way to end on a nostalgic note and it definitely did that. Give me that over a mint with the bill any day!

Honest Good Food, No Pretence

belly-of-the-beast-cape town

Belly of the Beast is one of those (forgive me) rare beasts that just is who it is. Quietly commanding and confident. It’s utterly refreshing and I can’t wait to go back.

Also check out what Neil and Anouchka are doing at their sustainable seafood restaurant, Galjoen, also located in the East City precinct.

110 Harrington St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000 | Instagram

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