This story has been a long time coming. Like, a long time. A year-and-a-half to be exact. It shouldn’t have taken a full-blown humanitarian crisis to finally come to fruition, but sometimes things happen for a reason. I’d like to think that this is one of those times.
Luke and Katie Wannacott returned to Cape Town in 2018 after honing their craft overseas. Instead of a typical dining establishment, they wanted to create something on their own terms where they could avoid the usual hospitality pressures and give you - their guest - the sort of experience that you didn’t know you needed. They wanted to welcome you into their home.
They clearly knew a thing or two, because they enlisted Dave Nel from Publik to help them with their wine list. Dave suggested that I join him for the opening of their little endeavour. Little did I know that it would soon be challenging for top spot on my hitherto non-existent favourite restaurant list.
Except that Table Seven is not really a restaurant.
Think of it as a multipurpose island inside a kitchen inside a beautiful space in the Salt Orchard. Here you can have lunch with friends or strangers or yourself. And if you like, sit next to the chefs and watch them prepare their choice of delicious, fresh locally sourced, seasonal dishes with a side of banter. Although when he’s busy Luke is rubbish at banter. But he gets into it when service slows down, so maybe you should slow down until then and just observe. At night you can rent out the whole space which includes another more important table: Table Seven.
From Tuesday to Friday, it’s open for lunch. At night, it’s available to rent as your own private restaurant for up to 22 guests. Birthday. Launch Party. Business Dinner. Random Thursday. You get the idea.
18 months and numerous visits later, I’m happy to report that Table Seven remains one of the finest dining experiences in Cape Town. Luke, Katie and their exceptional team have cleverly reimagined what it means to dine out, by making it just a little bit closer to dining in.
When you've been welcomed into their kitchen, you are more invested in the process. While passively watching fresh ingredients turn into works of art, you’re more appreciative of your chef’s talents. By sitting at one big table, you feel closer to your hosts and fellow diners. It feels wholesome, real and sustainable in every respect.
Ultimately by removing the traditional ‘restaurant’ barriers, Luke and Katie cleverly make your dining experience more familiar and engaging. No theatrics. No smoke and mirrors. But the food. Oh my goodness, the food.
Each day there are 5 or 6 dishes on the menu. These change daily and always show off different styles, origins and ingredients. I’d say that Luke has a soft spot for Italian cuisine, but there would be no way of knowing that unless you’ve eaten there about 300 times. The amount of variation every day, every week, every month is remarkable.
I made the mistake of signing up for their daily menu via Whatsapp. I felt closer to them this way, but here’s a little taste of the filth I receive every morning:
Oh Luke, you tease. In fairness, the written word can be magical, but it's not the best medium through which to experience food. With the greatest apologies to Instagram, feast your eyes on some of these:
Since day one, I’ve joked with Luke how lucky I am that he’s my best friend. He laugh’s nervously, probably considers a restraining order. Then I laugh nervously, hoping he’ll call me one day. He will call me one day. But either way, I recently understood a little more about this exchange:
At Table Seven, it feels like you’re sitting in your best friend’s kitchen. And your best friend just happens to be one of the country’s best chefs.
Open for Business
Our current situation obviously means dire consequences for the restaurant industry. Fortunately for Table Seven, because of their unusual business model they’ve been granted an essential services certificate, allowing them to deliver their ready-made convenience meals to your door. This is great news for everyone. The prices are criminally low, while the love and care that goes into preparing them is second to none. See the details and order here.
It goes without saying, I encourage you to order from them during this difficult period. By doing so you’ll not only be supporting their business, their employees and their families, you’ll also be doing yourself a huge favour. And when you are able to leave your home and dine out again, pay Table Seven a visit. If you've been before then i don't need to tell you this, but if you haven't, then know this: you’ll see the faces behind the meals you enjoyed under lockdown.
You’ll recognize the passion that went into serving you under extraordinary circumstances, and you’ll finally be able to enjoy the full experience.
* To be clear, this post is not sponsored. I’ve only written it because Luke is my best friend.