Arguably the finest writer of his century, Ernest Hemingway was also a man who devoured experience and had an zest for adventure as great as his creative genius. Sucking the marrow out of all the finer things life, it is no wonder his influence spread like wildfire across the globe, inspiring many a good time. If you want to see, hear, taste and feel exactly what I am talking about, make your way to The Moveable Feast – Cape Town’s newest cafe by day and Parisian-style bar by night.
Locals in Cape Town where all intrigued when the bustling Rafiki’s bar, located above The Power & The Glory on Kloof Nek street shut down, making way for a new venture on the vibey street corner. Within a few months, the buzz on the street was that P&G’s Parisian owners and long-time friends, Vincent John Soimaudand Rafael Wallon-Brownstone, had in fact purchased the popular space and were transforming it into something Cape Town had never seen before – a kind of Moulin Rouge-inspired feast for the senses, named, quite aptly, The Moveable Feast.
Avid restauranteurs, Vincent and Rafael have been in the industry for years and have opened a number of successful establishments in Paris that have become institutions. Their love for the Mother City and keen eye for all things restaurant-related resulted in them purchasing the popular bar-slash-bistro, The Power & The Glory, and subsequently opening their new venture, The Moveable Feast. A reference to Hemingway’s novel relating to his years in Paris, and a metaphor for things which change over time, their vision for the space is to ultimately allow for it to be shaped by the people that walk through its doors. “We want this venue to be a convivial and diverting place. We don’t want to feed people only with food but with experiences,” explains Vincent. “We want to create the conditions for them to share great conversations and laughs.”
The Moveable Feast has already created quite a buzz amongst Cape Town locals and travelers in the few short months it has been opened. Whether patrons opt for a memorable meal in the decidedly upmarket restaurant, or Friday night drinks complemented by a visual extravaganza in the adjacent bar, the venue has something for everyone. The atmosphere is robust, and the vision for The Moveable Feast seems to be taking on a life of its own.
So let’s talk food.. The menu is decidedly French, taking essential components of the cuisine and enhancing them by combining unexpected modern twists. The open kitchen creates a bustling energy in the restaurant, “similar to what one might find on the curb of a French café,” explains Sabine Gellé, manager of The Moveable Feast. The simplicity of classic French bistro cuisine has been preserved in the dishes on offer and the flavours have been left to speak for themselves. And speak they do! Some absolute musts on the menu include: the Parisian Gnocchi with prawns, sugar snaps, butter and lemon; Daube de Springbok, or Springbok shank, with red wine, blushes tomatoes, burnt onions and pomme pureé; Quail, served with soy sauce, lemon, mesclun salad, and radish; and the classic French onion soup which is the epitome of comfort food and bursting with flavour. Another highlight of the menu, served with a dash of theatrical flair, is the **Poisson en Croûte de Sel** – a whole fish baked in salt in the wood-fire oven that is presented by the chef at the table, where the salt crust is dramatically cracked open with a small hammer. The fish is sheer melt-in-your-mouth decadence and a must-try for bigger dining groups.
A similar approach to crafting the menu was taken when styling of the restaurant which was designed to combing the traditional elements of a typical French bistro with a twist. “The decor was a reinterpretation of the code of French brasserie,” explains Vincent. “One of the pieces that reflects this intention most would be our big swelling mirrors. Big mirrors are a must in a French brasserie; they give space to the room and reflect the light beautifully. But we didn’t want people to see their reflection when they dine, so we went with a system of multiple mirrors: each within an independent frame to allow us to move the mirrors individually in any direction, and create a distorted image of the reflected space.” The grand swiveling mirrors surround typically French deep-red booth seating – a far cry from the bright neon rods that light up the stage in the adjacent bar…
A luminous lit up sign indicates that you have arrived in another dimension of The Moveable Feast. The multifaceted bar offers a chilled space to sip on a drink and snack on a selection of light French fare (think Croque Madame and Crêpes) during the day, while the evenings are a bustle of activity, offering an eclectic mix of acts and performances. “So far we’ve been hosting drags shows with the Diskotekah collective, had burlesque performances by the Rouge venue, and an array of musicians and vinyl DJs,” says Vincent. “We have curated our space to host talented creatives as they introduce their craft and promote engagement within our community.”
The epic tale of a young man in Paris, discovering the pleasures of meeting interesting people, hopping from one café to the next whilst indulging in life’s pleasures, is the perfect namesake for this Parisian-style venue that is fast becoming an institution in itself. The Moveable Feast ticks all the boxes. Recreating their offerings on a weekly basis with different events, the space is constantly diversified, attracting a wide variety of crowds. It is the perfect place to enjoy real conversation, have a great meal, and even swing your hips on the dancefloor. “We do not impose an agenda; we see this venue as a living space for people to get the experience that they wish for,” concludes Vincent.
TEXT © Julie Graham
For more information, visit www.themoveablefeast.co.za.
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