I’ve written previously about the first time I met Liam Tomlin and how he scared the shit out of me. Seriously. He was terrifying. A lot has happened since then and – having been through the process of judging the Eat Out Awards together – I’ve got to know the man well. I’ve seen a guy who has strong, simple food philosophies. I’ve seen a guy who appreciates attention to detail and solid service. I’ve seen a guy who hates flowery explanations of food. I’ve seen a guy who expects a high standard when that’s what you’re selling.
Throughout the judging process, I learnt a lot from Liam but most notable was the constant desire for the chefs to strip out all the unnecessary nonsense and keep things simple. I’ve always asked the question why local chefs are obsessed with technique, rather than produce and, in Liam, I found someone who had the same thoughts. Overworked, over-styled food doesn’t blow my hair back and he feels pretty much the same way.
All of this might explain why he has taken the (ballsy) step of opening his new cafe/restaurant/food nirvana on Bree Street. I think he just did it out of necessity. Where else can you go for a plate of roasted bone marrow topped with capers, parsley and nothing else? Where else do you get a jar packed with rabbit rilletes? You want authentic raclette, with the cheese bubbling as it gets brought to the table? This is the place to get it. A craving for Bouillabaisse has got you? Don’t worry. He’s got you covered. Looking for the single, greatest collection of cookbooks in Cape Town? Look no further pal. Throw in the fact that he will soon be slinging Asian street food from a hatch facing Bree Street and we’re looking at one of the coolest things to happen to the Cape Town food scene in a long time.
This is not a post to announce that Liam Tomlin is the best kept secret in South Africa. This is not a post to tell you when he was at Banc in Australia it was voted Restaurant of The Year by the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as receiving three hats (the highest accolade possible). This is not that post. This is a post to tell you that Liam Tomlin and his wife Jan are spearheading a new shop that you need to go to if you love food. This is a post to tell you there is a chef’s chef who is cooking his socks off with a young team.
Chef’s Warehouse is not fine dining. The service is not flawless. But the space is seriously, seriously cool and the kitchen is serving food that tastes good and looks good. They’re also having fun. The best part? I know Liam would say they are nowhere near a finished article. Get there anyway – the Irishman still has a few tricks up his sleeves. Turns out the new kid on the block isn’t that new at all.
Go forth and eat,