This award-winning restaurant at Ten Bompas boutique hotel was named after a painting of chanteuse Amy Winehouse purchased by the owners in France. The decor is a chic and intimate French bistro with dark parquet flooring, vintage globe lights and cosy corner banquettes looking out onto the hotel's peaceful green gardens. Among Winehouse's many virtues is that the personalised and warm setting, service and food. Intimate, and cosy, it doesn't feel at all like a hotel restaurant.
Fans of fine food will enjoy the chic and unfussy atmosphere, welcoming and polished service and not having to gasp at the food prices. The three-course seasonal menus change often so there is always something new to look forward to. Winehouse does not only derive its name from the singer, but from its extensive wine collection. Many of these are limited editions predominantly from South African estates with some French bottles on offer too.
The a la carte menu created by head chef Ross Birkin expresses French flavours with some interesting South African additions and plenty of attention to detail. So you can expect to find dishes like classic beef tartare or moules marinière as well as leafy salads topped with homemade duck biltong or a salmon gravalax that is cured in-house with salt, sugar and monkey shoulder whiskey.
Main courses are robust, rich in flavour and generously portioned while desserts keep things light and simple. In particular, Winehouse's crème anglaise is a major stand out and an absolute must-try. Cooked sous-vide style in glass jars submerged in water at low temperatures, this unusual method means that the fat breaks down much slower than in a crème brûlée, giving this egg yolk and cream mix an addictively silky smooth texture.
On our lunch visit we got to spend some time chatting with Head Chef Ross Birkin, a man with a fiery passion for food and a dedication to making sure that he meets every guest who dines at his restaurant. When fully booked the small restaurant can seat around 25 (more if the private dining room is also booked), providing space to meet guests during the dinner service and talk them through the dishes and how they have been made. It's a unique personalised touch that we found definitely heightens the enjoyment of the food, especially if you are someone with an interest in cooking.
A classically French-trained chef, Birkin previously worked in corporate hospitality and at a few casinos and now has his heart set on the fine dining side of things. Making sure that Winehouse's seasonal menus follow the best of what's available, he goes to great lengths to ensure good relationships with suppliers who can bring in the finest ingredients.
Matching a flair for fine food, Winehouse also hosts intimate wine pairing events on the last Thursday of every month. These are very popular events and we recommend booking well in advance. Each month the restaurant collaborates with a different wine farm to present a new three-course meal with multiple wine pairings.
The restaurant also offers regular picnic lunches in the hotel's lovely gardens that include wine tastings and occasionally live music too. Check out their upcoming events programme here and make sure to book ahead!