REVIEW weekend dinner with the Duchess

Gautengers have long been familiar with Teresa Beukes’ cooking style, after frequenting her Sam’s Café and Fino restaurants. Now Capetonians are becoming familiar with her new Sea Point venue called The Duchess of Wisbeach.

Décor in the tiny space is as eclectic as Beukes’ personality is rumoured to be, portraits of Victorian ladies sharing space with gilt mirrors, distressed brick pillars and damask in the dining space. Squeezing into a cramped bar with views of a stuffed cow head and bookshelves, we waited beyond our requested late dinner reservation for a table while camp characters rushed past and a drunk man shouted at a waitress. In the buzzy atmosphere none of it seemed out of place.


A one-page menu offered creative starter options but we struggled to be lured when it came to main courses. At our table of four, the boys looked past steak tartare and zoomed in on retro prawn cocktail (R53) – queens in a cocktail sauce that lacked zing to make it special. The girls had kingklip fishcake (R56) and fish fingers (R53) respectively. Lovely homemade mayo partnered comforting minced fishcakes. But the highlight was the fish fingers, solid fishy strips jazzed up in spicy crumbs, delicious with onion raita.

Two beef fillets were grilled correctly with creamy pepper sauce (R95), but the handcut chips on the side were disappointingly soggy. A King George burger (R75) was pleasant enough with a homemade patty, toasted bun, pickles and trimmings, but wouldn’t beat a gourmet burger specialist such as Hudson’s. The surprise was the unusual mussel dish (R70), shells arriving in a fragrant vapour of carrot juice, ginger, chilli and coriander. A peculiar combination but it worked.

Wines at the Duchess are limited – the Beukes philosophy is to offer homely, made-from-scratch food with a few fancy tweaks, as though you’re at a dinner party. So it’s unsurprising that she lists only a few wine labels of producer friends instead of trying to be comprehensive. All very well, but the limited white selection meant we struggled to find a food-friendly alternative to Iona Sauvignon Blanc beyond a pricy Chenin Blanc. Forced to switch, De Grendel Shiraz (R139) delivered everything expected of a red.


It was late so we didn’t venture too far into the sweet section, but nostalgic treats await such as banana split with homemade banana ice-cream or bread and butter pudding. Our shared spoons competed in a serving of Turkish delight and nougat ice-cream (R40). Quite delicious in all its calorific creamy-chewy richness.

Spend: about R185 for three courses, excluding drinks.
Wine: Limited printed list.
Value: Fair. Flavour rating: good but not great. Plenty for vegetarians.

DUCHESS OF WISBEACHBORD KOS 1 Wisbeach Road, Sea Point. Tel (021) 434-1525. Open Mon to Sat for dinner only.