Homespun’s owner Matt Schreuder worked in Zurich for five years, making cocktails and managing travelling pop-up restaurant Pret a Diner, where big-name chefs make guest stints. Back in Cape Town, he opened Homespun restaurant near Table View’s beachside strip this February.
Schreuder is obviously a gambling man. Homespun is in the frenetic heart of fluorescent-lit franchise restaurant grimness, yet its slate plates lean ambitiously towards finer dining.
Seated with a one-page menu, dim lighting and deep house beats, the puzzling décor combined beach-house-style beams and wicker chairs with oversized candelabras, velour drapes and booths reminiscent of supper club shows.
We took along wine, but some laidback Western Seaboarders tucked into inexpensive bottles for cash donations (they’re waiting for a liquor licence).
We found out later that chef Ryan Mollentze is only 24. Unfortunately his inexperience showed on some plates. Fiddlier food is about ensuring you’ve developed an idea, while not forcing too many elements. So pork belly was good: crispy crackling atop tender meat, if a little safe with its Sunday roast and apple puree vibe.
A bland fishy main was poorly cooked and stood apart from its seaweed-like herb crust. Spinach with garlicky basil cream aside, it was a disservice to sustainable hake. I’ve heard it’s now off the menu – a mussel, calamari and fish seafood selection replaced it.
There were moments of promise: a pulled lamb main had super-creamy, umami cauliflower puree. While in the beef tataki, bright flavours, crumbed balls of rare beef, and a clever spin on onion in creams and rings, demanded attention as a diner.
Desserts finished well with mousse-like bittersweet chocolate torte partnering not-too-sweet chocolaty custards and smears. Baked honey cheesecake was excellently creamy, but didn’t need its multiple sweet and nutty extras.
Yes, Homespun is on its way. Folks out that side are lapping it up.
What to eat Beef tataki is delicious, and fillet medallions on a potato stack looked good for next time.
When to go Dinner is the only option. In summer there are two evening sittings.
Who to take A group of four is ideal. Only a few tables work well for couples.
What not to do Order fish if it’s topped with a herb crust. Rather try something else.
What to drink Bring your own wine. Other drinks and bottled water are sipped from jam jars.
Whatever you do Save space for dessert. They’re rather good.
How much? Starters are about R55; mains average at about R130; desserts shouldn’t cost over R50.
The verdict A promising culinary step-up for the Western seaboard.
HOMESPUN, Porterfield Road, Table View. Open Monday to Sat for dinner. Tel 021-556-2824.
A version of this review appeared in The Times on 20 May 2015.