Saturday, June 30, 2018

Arnolds - Cape Town, South Africa

My favorite meal of our trip to southern Africa was at Arnolds on Kloof Street in Cape Town, South Africa. I'd researched it before our trip and identified it as one of the best offerings of game meat we would find. We had a reservation there our first night and it had been cancelled by the restaurant - perhaps they were having a wedding event - suggested by our guide. We ended up fitting it in for lunch our last of four days in Cape Town. Arnold's was rated #49 of 512 restaurants in Cape Town by Trip Advisor. 
Arnolds, fairly close to where we stayed at More Quarters Hotel. 
Judy was getting tired of game meat and she opted for something else I don't recall, I think something with shrimp, and she was not particularly thrilled with what she got. 

She also ordered an African Sun drink which had pineapple, strawberry and blackberry in it. I ordered the Mexican Rush which had raspberry, cherry and mango. Both were wonderfully cold, thick and delicious. 
African Sun
Mexican Rush
Our guide, Ryan Strauss, with Samsara Africa, knew I wanted to try all of the game meats, so he kindly ordered gemsbok wellington and then shared part of it with me. Wellington is a dish of steak coated with pate and duxelles (a minced mixture of mushrooms, onions, herbs and black pepper sauteed in butter and reduced to a paste), then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. This dish substituted gemsbok filet for the beef and was wrapped in bacon, instead of the pate, and was served medium rare. It was amazingly good, perhaps the best of any of our menu items. Not only was the meat cooked nicely, but the other ingredients added to the flavor and texture. 
Gemsbok Wellington
I ordered the South African Game Platter which included four cuts of game. In the picture below, top left is kudu, bottom left is ostrich, the small bowl is crocodile tagine, then grilled vegetables and French fries, then on the right, warthog ribs. 
South African Game Platter
The crocodile tagine is an Arnolds signature dish. Tagine is a Moroccan method and they used a sweet and sour mild curry and served it with yellow rice. It was pretty bland and my least favorite of all the game dishes. I much prefer crocodile grilled. 
Crocodile Tagine
The other signature dish at Arnolds is smoked warthog ribs. This was what I was most excited to try. I saw some Trip Advisor comments that raved about it. They were smoked red and definitely had the smoky taste. I'm really not a big smoked meat fan, but it was cool that it was warthog and they were pretty moist. 
Smoked Warthog Ribs
Both the kudu and the ostrich were over-cooked, not even pink in the middle. I'd specifically asked for rare when I ordered. I wasn't going to make a fuss, but Ryan said I'd ordered it that way and got up and talked to the waiter and got them to cook me some new ones. I appreciated his being assertive for me. The manager came back with the newly cooked meat and watched me cut into it. They were both raw in the middle - I said great. One thing I really learned on this trip - wild game is best cooked like seared ahi - seared on the outside and raw in the middle. It gets horribly dry and tough when it is over-cooked. 
Original ostrich.
Original kudu
I had lots of kudu on our trip, and having it rare made all the difference. It was in a fantastic peppery gravy that went really well with it. I really loved it - best kudu of the trip. 
New kudu
A look at the inside of the new ostrich (left) and kudu (right). 
The ostrich was also much improved. It was not as large a piece or cooked as well as the ostrich I had at Karibu, which was amazing. I think much of it was that it was just not as good a cut. It was vastly improved rare. 
The new ostrich.
This was an amazingly fun meal. Karibu came close to equaling it, but I give the nod to best of trip for Arnolds. The gemsbok wellington was perhaps best of trip, the warthog ribs were unusual and cool and the kudu was amazingly good. 


  1. Yeah, I blew it by getting shrimp. The only compensation was my delicious fruit drink. Your food was excellent.

  2. African Sun drink looks amazing. I will defenitely order one when i visit this place.