FYN Restaurant: A Contemporary Urban Dining Experience
Walking through Gallery MOMO on Parliament Street to reach FYN restaurant immediately sets the tone for the experience – raw cement floors and stark gallery walls just ooze contemporary style.
A ride up in the retro elevator to the 5th floor of the Speakers’ Corner building reveals the brand new space, where the über on-point vibe continues. Moody dark walls, minimalist furnishings and the most awe-inspiring ceiling decor (courtesy of Christoph Karl from Guideline) that will no doubt become an immediate Instagram feature favourite.
The restaurant has been a few years in the making. A regular diner at The Greenhouse at Cellars Hohenort had been urging Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff to look at the space available in the 1920s building just above on Church Square in the CBD.
The building, which houses modern meeting rooms, office spaces and the gallery, was the perfect spot for a trendy urban restaurant.
It is only this year that the project finally saw the light of day, with the top floor overlooking the square being chosen for the restaurant. The open-plan style of the restaurant makes for a connected dining experience, with a central area (the Kitchen Counter, a revamped Chef’s Table-type experience) where chefs can be seen plating dishes.
Peter Tempelhoff brings with him head chef, Ashley Moss, from The Greenhouse, as well as Jennifer Hugé (previously of La Colombe) as general manager and business partners. The trio have a wealth of experience in the industry and have cumulatively pooled this to create this ambient and cool space.
While this style of levelled up restaurant is quite common elsewhere in the world, it isn’t a trend here… yet. I will bet my last Rand that we’ll soon be seeing more of it, as people recognise the awesome spaces within the CBD that are just begging for this kind of downtown Manhattan-style spot.
It’s edgy and refined and it’s just all-round kind of cool to be sitting up high and overlooking the city’s comings and goings by day and twinkling lights by night.
My dining partner and I were quite surprised to learn that the menu is Japanese-influenced (with a few classically French elements snuck in). The name FYN (fine in Afrikaans and also a derivative of Fynbos) had us thinking it would be more of a South African-style menu and, while there are a couple of homegrown influences (prawn samosa, kelp ‘biltong’), the influence is from Pete’s global travels with a strong Japanese connection. Being a huge fan of this style of cuisine, we could not wait to tuck in.
The Concept of Shun
The set menu (R895 pp) is styled with canapés from Bento, a Kaiseki Tray, a main thereafter and then Sweet Kaiseki. The concept of Kaiseki (a multi-course, elegant meal) really appeals to the Libra in me – lots of small bites, no having to make decisions and a no possible plate envy.
Kaiseki is based on the concept of Shun, which means using ingredients at their peak and creating unfussy, pure dishes that marry cuisine with art. At FYN this is reflected in the preparation of the food and the overall feeling of the restaurant itself.
The selection of bento canapés included tasty small bites that whet the appetite; we particularly loved the crisp prawn samosa dipped into a spicy pepper sauce and the whitefish take on nigiri, with crispy chewy rice and dashi aioli.
The bone marrow butter, mopped up with freshly made mini French bread, was also a favourite.
The Kaiseki tray is a taste bud adventure and once our knowledgeable server, Michael, had given us the tour around the tray, we couldn’t wait to get started. The scallop with red lentil veloute was utterly sublime – so tender we could use the small wooden spoon provided to cut through it, a small dot of lemon atchar livened the palate with it’s citrus zing.
We also loved the game fish (tuna) with tomato ponzu and kelp biltong.
How to Cook Guinea Fowl
Following the adventure of the Kaiseki tray was the main of roast guinea fowl (farm raised in Stellenbosch). I’ve been told there’s only one way to cook guinea fowl and that is to bury it in a pot underground and when it’s ready, leave it there and find something else to eat. But this dish totally proved that theory wrong. The meat was succulent and tender and was served with poached leeks, an amazing miso cream (is miso ever bad?) and delicate wood ear mushrooms.
Dessert is a selection of three dishes and that in itself deserves a round of applause. A tart yuzu sorbet with coconut, a smooth mousse with chocolate tuille with Japanese plum, and a set green tea and white chocolate cream with sugar shards and compressed strawberries. Each was a delight.
The dessert course was served with a purpose-made mini bottle of Vin de Constance which was also a real treat.
The whole FYN restaurant experience is considered; from details such as a glass of Colmant bubbly served in the most beautiful coupe glasses on arrival, to incredible bespoke ceramics by local artists, Roché Müller from Claylat and Corinne de Haas from Potters Gallery Kleinmond that make each dish look like art.
It’s a refreshing urban dining experience that is reflective of a meeting of minds and collective talents. We can’t wait to see what comes next.
5th Floor Speakers’ Corner, Parliament Street, Cape Town (entrance through GalleryMOMO)
Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch 12h00 – 14h00 and Dinner 18h00 – 21h00
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