Let me start off this review by saying that any restaurant offering only one, yes 1, type of cuisine ONLY will not last very long if it does not do it consistently well. The fact that Craft has been around at this location for almost 5 years tells a story. We, at Burger Brews, felt that we just had to go see what made this restaurant so special. With two of the bru’s unable to make it, my fellow bru and I headed out on a rainy Cape Town Thursday evening.
Craft occupies a small space in Regent Street, Sea Point. When we arrived, there were only two tables of customers dining, however in a small restaurant the lack of diners is nowhere near as apparent as at larger restaurants. There was a definite buzz which was being provided by the energetic staff and handful of diners. We began by ordering our first beers of the night. Their craft beer offering is quite extensive, with variants and tastes to suit any beer lover. We each ordered a C.B.B. Craft Lager, which is exclusively made and supplied to Craft by Woodstock Brewery. This was soon brought with a smile by our impressive waiter, Malvin. We tucked merrily into our pints while taking note of what was on offer on their food menu. Craft offers diners two options of ordering burgers. The first is to order from their Handcrafted Burger range, and the second option is to build your own burger. Whilst there are other restaurants that allow diners the option to build aspects of their meal, Craft takes the concept of building your own burger to another level! From the size of the patty, to the garnish, to the sides, to the toppings, to how the patty is cooked – everything can be customised to suit the taste of the diner. They even allow their diners to choose between a bun, no bun, or – get this – half a bun. How many of us have eaten burgers through the years where the top of the bun is not eaten and left on the plate, only to be thrown away? In this day and age, where food waste is continuously being highlighted, it is totally refreshing to see a restaurant that is actually doing something about it. To put it into further perspective, offering diners this option pretty much allows them to get absolute value for money. This is great for the budget-conscious diners (who can build a burger to suit their budget), and for those of us who hate to waste food.
Our first drinks soon quickly made their way down our throats, after which we ordered a round of Noon Gun Lagers. Our thoughts then turned to starters. We were disappointed to see that there were no real starter options, apart from ordering their side options. We decided to go straight for mains – a Burger Brews first. My fellow bru decided to build his own burger. Now, when building your own burger there is a list of toppings one can add which are included in the cost of the patty. There is also a list of additional items which can be optionally added, although there are extra charges for these. He ended up going for a 160g patty, cooked medium, and with a bun. The toppings he chose, included in the patty cost, was lettuce, tomato, tangy mayonnaise and chilli. Additionally charged items he went with was bacon, avo, cheddar cheese and chips. I went with their Alan Committie burger from their Handcrafted Burger range. This came topped with salami, mozzarella cheese, guacamole and jalapenos. It came served with homemade chips, and the regular garnishes one expects when ordering burgers. We also added a portion of fried onion rings to our order, which I regard as one of my favourite sides to go with my burger.
Regularly, their burgers carry the names of various Cape Town suburbs, however, Craft has a relationship with the organisers of the annual Funny Festival (a line-up of top local and international comedians who perform in a run of shows at the Baxter Theatre each year) which sees their burgers undergoing name changes – being named after some of the comedians performing at the shows. That was where funny ended, as we soon got down to the serious job of eating. Now, believe me when I tell you that any serious lover of burgers has got to have a burger at Craft! This was a burger-eating experience for the ages. The combination of flavours in my toppings took my taste buds on a pleasure cruise as the mild flavour of the mozzarella combined cleverly with the sharpness and zing of the jalapeno, and was then brought together beautifully with the lovely guacamole – however, the best was yet to come! The patty was cooked to absolute perfection. It was so succulent and had such great flavour which came through in spite of the delicious combination of toppings. Restaurants often get carried away with offering so many toppings which, as delicious and as great a combination they may be, often masks the flavour of the patty. Here, they got it absolutely spot on! The sides of chips and onion rings were delicious and fully complimented the meal. I washed my meal down with another Noon Gun Lager while the other bru went for the Noon Gun IPA.
Our meals complete, we introduced ourselves to the owner, Russell. We ordered our final drink for the night (both opting for the Noon Gun Weiss) as he joined us for a chat. I was gobsmacked when he told me that his chef, who cooked our glorious meals, had been with him, since 1987. No surprise, then, that he knew how to cook a burger to perfection!
It was interesting to note that throughout the night the restaurant became busier with people coming in at various times. We left with the restaurant busier than when we had arrived, which has a lot to do with the fact that their kitchen closes at 11pm.
I have said it before (and have even published an article about it) that any truly great burger meal is one where the patty is the hero of the dish. For anybody who might not fully understand what this means, please proceed to Craft Burger Bar and place your order – you can thank me later!
Beginnings – Well, there weren’t any, really. The sides can classify as starters, I suppose, and they were delicious. 2
Burgers – Extremely novel way of being able to choose your burger. Burger choices are so well thought through. In terms of execution, you cannot expect better! 5
Beers – Very decent variety, with something for every beer lover. 4.5
Bringers – Malvin was the man! Brilliant service throughout. Along with the other staff, helped to create an energised, fun atmosphere. 5
Background – Not the busiest when we arrived, however it got busier as the night progressed. Buzzy throughout, which is something that a small restaurant has going for it over larger ones. The constant engaging by the owner with his customers made the atmosphere laid-back and totally relaxed. 4