The Alphen has history oozing from every Cape Dutch pore and there are heaps of pictures and photos on the walls documenting those who have lived and visited there. But they’re interspersed by huge contemporary pieces as well. It’s a theme carried through into the lighting. Huge original chandeliers hang alongside modern shades, occasionally dwarfing them completely. It gives a curious, almost theatrical feel to the place.
In the same vein, the atmosphere is further enhanced by the in-your-face music straight out of a chilled afternoon in an Ibiza bar [example], filling the small, intimate 17th century rooms with energy and life.
The restaurant – presumably so named since it occupies five separate rooms (I counted and they didn’t include the bathrooms – perhaps an oversight?) – has a well-stocked bar at its heart, with a drunk Englishman (not me) telling the barman how to identify and reject under-ripe limes, and Peroni and Castle on draught. The Rose Bar round the back also has Black Label and Milk Stout on tap. So that’s my summer evenings sorted, then.
The service was supreme, from booking through the welcome to the table service and the food didn’t disappoint. Mrs 6000 started with the Norwegian salmon and followed it up with the superb veal, served with pesto souffle wrapped in sweet potato and greens. I chose the duck pâté (roasted pistachio nuts, blood orange jelly and potato crisps) to begin with and then moved onto the remarkable value of the seafood platter – linefish, mussels, calamari, a tiger prawn and a crayfish tail – for R159. Excellent stuff.
That main course was part of their winter specials list though, so you’d better get in there sooner rather than later. Spring is almost gesprung.
[Update – Winter Specials are on until 30 September 2012]
The desserts were equally special. A delicious crème brûlée with refreshing berries and a terrifyingly sharp sugar nest for me and a trio of truffles served with frozen grapes (“they’re like, grapes, but frozen”) and a shot of Patrón for the other half (Mrs 6000 will do most anything for a shot of Patrón, so nothing else on the dessert menu really stood a chance).
The wine list isn’t huge, but there’s some very decent stuff on there. As an irregular (at best) white wine drinker, I was particularly impressed with my 2011 Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc from Warwick Estate.
It wasn’t a cheap evening, but as the Fund Manager reminded us last week at Hussar “this is what you pay to eat out these days”. However, I do think that it did represent really good value.
We’ll certainly be back at 5 Rooms, and as I mentioned, we’ll probably spend a few decent sunny evenings in the Rose Bar.
If this is representative of the rest of the hotel’s offerings, then The Alphen is fully deserving of its 5 star rating.