GOLD Restaurant in Green Point Cape Town serves up one of the most culturally delicious African dining experiences imaginable. Operating since 2007, what makes GOLD unique is its lively atmosphere, famously friendly people, and 14-dish tasting menu, which honours traditional African dishes combined with modern flavours and techniques.
Restaurant co-owner, Cindy Muller says, “GOLD was born from the idea that Africa needed to be showcased in a sophisticated and creative way. The stereotypical opinion of Africa needed to be completely turned on its head. We created a restaurant that focuses on the variety of African foods. The fact that African food is healthy in its abundant use of pulses and fresh vegetables is a surprise to many”.
The evening begins with guests warmly welcomed by beautifully attired servers who come from all over the African continent. They bring with them their stories, history, culture and traditional recipes, some of which influence and inspire dishes featured on the menu. Helping to design their garments, they also hand stitch their personalities and artistic ideas into the pattern detail you see on some of the table linens.
“… that African food is really healthy in its abundant use of pulses and fresh vegetables is a surprise to many.”
Eager first-time and returning guests that opt for pre-dinner djembe (pronounced jem-beh) drumming are escorted to a designated space. Each participant gets their own djembe drum, a wooden goblet covered with animal hide, which rests comfortably clasped between the knees.
Under the expert guidance of one of GOLD’s experienced drumming facilitators, anxiety gives way to unbridled glee as even the most rhythmically challenged are soon cupping their hands and pounding out the pulsating sounds synonymous with the heartbeat and rhythm of Africa.
After 30 minutes or so, guests are treated to a soothing traditional hand washing ceremony and are led to their tables where the 14-dish tasting feast begins.
Served in generous individual and sharing portions, all dishes are freshly prepared with top quality provisions and the menu changes seasonally. Head chef, Mavis, who comes from Zambia says, “Real food is all about natural ingredients and what comes from the land. Back home, food retains its own natural taste. When you smell the aromas from food cooking in a neighbour’s house, you can still smell the main ingredients. At GOLD the flavours in our food are enhanced and not hidden by herbs and spices. It’s real. Like Africa”.
“… the flavours in our food are enhanced and not hidden by herbs and spices.”
Each dish is brought to your table with country of origin, cooking method, and spicing explained. All meat, poultry and fish dishes are Halaal-certified and come with vegetarian or vegan substitutes. Inform the restaurant of your dietary preferences when booking so that they can adjust your menu accordingly.
Cindy says, “We spend time communicating with our staff in terms of whom they will be serving, where our guests come from, and we consider any cultural differences that we need to take into account when serving them”.
Tuck into North African briouates, light and crisp filo pastry parcels filled with ginger and cashew nuts. Dig in to the South African boerewors, specialty sausage made from lamb and venison served with tomato smoor (sauce). Mop up the sauces of Moroccan lamb tagine, Ghanaian peanut chicken, dips and condiments with roosterkoek (bread rolls traditionally cooked on hot coals), or Xhosa-style pot bread.
From Zambian sweet potato cakes, Cape Malay pea and potato samoosas to Tanzanian fried fish and shrimp with spinach and coconut, guests can expect an incredible spread of spice, flavour and texture. Desserts may include Malva pudding, a South African sweet, baked sponge, Cape Malay Boeber, a creamy sago pudding, or South African cardamom ice cream.
An essential part of any dining experience is the people with whom you share it. African food is traditionally shared and enjoyed with friends and family, and as family is central to African culture children are welcome. There is plenty of live entertainment to keep diners of all ages captivated throughout the evening.
This takes the form of archetypal African stories told through music, singing and dancing, and Mali puppetry to the rhythm of marimba percussion and djembe drums. At the end of the evening all the staff come out to join in the festivities. It is their way of coming together to celebrate with you and to wish you well until they see you again.
“Archetypal African stories are told through music, singing and dancing, accompanied by tall Mali puppets, to the rhythm of marimba percussion and djembe drums”.
In addition to great food, GOLD’s people provide the ambience, warmth and knowledgeable service associated with the world’s best dining experiences. To get this consistently right for more than a decade requires an attitude that comes from the top. Cindy says, “I treat my staff with dignity and respect. If it comes from the top then our staff take care of our guests in the same way”.
GOLD’s culture of mutual respect starts with warmly greeting one another at the beginning and at the end of a shift. Cindy says, “Its important to know each and every member of my staff. I get to know their life story, their families, likes and dislikes. It’s important to be genuinely interested, to let my staff know that they are unique and special and I make sure they feel it. This translates into how they cook and how they make our guests feel”.
Consistently popular since its inception, GOLD is open for dinner and live entertainment seven days a week. Walk-ins are welcome when capacity allows but as the restaurant is high up on many a must-experience-list, availability cannot be guaranteed, so its best to pre-book.
Book your African dinner and drumming experience now.
Also read The best food tours in Cape Town.