When a restaurant has been around as long as the V&A waterfront development itself and is still going strong, you know that it is both hitting the diverse market of tourists and locals just right; and continually delivering a product that diners like. Its waterfront location has been both a blessing and a curse, as it ensures good business from the hordes of tourists in season but since the waterfront has also been viewed with a rather jaundiced eye by many Capetonians – who suspect its shops of being “tourist traps” – you have something of a challenge out of season. And Belthazar is not a budget option, so local punters judge it even more strictly.
Be that as it may, I have become convinced, over the years, that this is a fine establishment and one of our best steakhouses. Measured against the essentials of service and quality, it is remarkably consistent – and it upholds very high standards, especially in its (signature) meats and wines. In livery it is comfortably upmarket, a steakhouse and seafood emporium styled on the New York “warehouse” idiom; while a large patio area under umbrellas sports delightful harbour views. Wait staff are very neat in waistcoats and brisk in their attention – sometimes a little too much so, but they certainly know their business.
It was one of the early restaurants to sport a sophisticated wine preservation system, allowing diners to choose from a superb array of wines by the glass and to this day its wine list and selection is incredible, as well as informative (and expensive). A favourite seat for solo dining or a quick meal is at the bar counter, with all those tempting bottles winking at you.
The menu offers really quite retro customer favourites as starters: biltong, chicken livers, sardines, avocado Ritz, deep fried Camembert (most around the R75 mark) while my starter of choice is some of their superb calamari – grilled with garlic and chilli. The prawns are also very well sourced and perfectly cooked (Kings at R63 each).
The headline act is the steak and here they not only have a dedicated meat locker to age the sides of beef to perfection, they also have an in-house butcher and grillers with fine-honed skills. While they do have the classic cuts like sirloin and rump, the interesting options (and ones which mark this steakhouse as being more modern) are the rib-eyes and “Chicago cut” steaks. These are fore-quarter cuts with more inherent flavour. A 500g Chicago costs R310 – quite a premium on a similar size sirloin at R196 but a must for meat aficionados and anyone who feels like exploring beyond the usual options. The menu rounds out with a game selection as well as poultry, while desserts return to the classics like tiramisu, “New York” Sundae, chocolate brownie, sticky toffee pudding (around R62).
For: Excellent meats, extensive wine list, good service, great setting
Against: Pricey (but there is value)