Chances are you've driven past Upper East Side Hotel on many occasions as you take the Eastern Boulevard in or out of Cape Town’s city bowl. It's set far enough back from the busy N2 so that you might not notice it, but at night, when the building is illuminated in blue lights, it's hard to miss as you come around the corner just before Hospital Bend.
Situated in upper Woodstock, the hotel is certainly in an unlikely location - slap-bang among the factory shops that the area is known for. But, the hotel’s all the better for it - it has a perfect view of the harbour, City Bowl and Table Mountain and is actually far more convenient to visit for an evening out than the trek into town. But then, I'm a little biased because my offices are based in this lovely location.
I'm ashamed to say that it's taken me a year and a half to discover Upper East Side Hotel's lovely restaurant Liberty's, mostly because I've looked at the opulent furnishings and just assumed it would be too expensive. I'm wrong, it turns out.
Executive chef Simon Kemp offers up an easy-going and affordable lunch menu (think gourmet burgers, wraps and sandwiches) and a more formal main menu with dishes featuring herbs from the hotel's very own rooftop garden. Expect interesting twists - fennel and ouzo feature in a mussel starter and a white tomato soup that offers a zing of basil, chevin cheese and sweet summer tomatoes caught my attention.
The menu also offers a good range of dishes - a sticky and spicy Szechuan chicken dish, a decadent camembert beef fillet were the two dishes my partner and I selected, but the crayfish and prawn linguini was a close second on my list of choices. A modest range of dishes for the purely vegetarian are on offer - a "melting camembert salad" prepared over a crisp leaves with mixed nuts and fresh berries sounded delectable … perhaps something I'll be back to try one of these days.
Happily main dishes are reasonably priced - ranging from R68 for the white tomato soup to R138 (the most expensive dish on the menu) for the beef fillet.
The piece de resistance has to be the desserts though. My partner and I each tackled a chocolatey number – a “chocolate nemesis” consisting of 70 percent dark chocolate with a raspberry compote and a baked chocolate cheese cake that had me in a state of toe-curling pleasure. For those who would like something less laden with chocolate, expect a gingered pear and muscadel Cape Dutch pudding or an Amaretto vanilla bean crème brulee, or a selection of cheeses and preserves to round off a good meal.
Overall, Liberty's offers up good value for money whilst managing to keep quality in mind. I hear the venue is also a great one to meet for drinks after work - it has a rather flashy bar and the barman throws together a few good cocktails.