The Atlantic Seaboard hasn’t been on my radar for months now. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was bothered or tempted to head over the mountain to eat or drink in Camps Bay. Nothing is new, and perhaps with so many great new spots in the city bowl opening all the time, I have become a little jaded and cynical to contemplate ‘hanging’ with the Pretty Young Things and wannabes that frequent this part of town. But, I have to admit that when a media release hit my inbox earlier this week, I had to rethink that territorial malaise I’m suffering from. Welcome, La Parada del Mar the latest addition to the Harbour House Group which occupies a prime position on Camps Bay’s tried and tested tourist strip. I forget what was there before but the newly opened restaurant, which was perfectly timed to rake in all those tourist Randelas spent by Fourwains who do seem to love this part of our Mother City, is sure to be here for a while to come.
The sultry Spanish flavour of the original La Parada Bar de Tapas on Cape Town’s trendy Bree Street or its 2016’s expansion to the wine belt up on Constantia Nek is reinvented (reinterpreted perhaps) for the South African market expecting something aquatic or Island themed. “La Parada del Mar is more “Miami Beach” than the other branches of La Parada,” explains Simone Biggs, interior designer for the Harbour House Group, who says she drew inspiration from Ibiza, Miami and Cuba in curating a space that blends laid-back beach-chic with a dose of after-dark allure.
And it’s certainly a venue of individual spaces to be sure. Café tables at street-level are popular for people-watching (or to be seen by the rabble walking past desperately seeking a table of their own to pose at). Never having to wonder but a few steps from your table should you not manage to find one of the well-appointed waiters, barmen behind mosaic-clad bars whip together their signature Gin & Tonic Del De Barra; the classic cocktail is given a lift by mango, rosemary, grapefruit and orange zest. I’m not sure who the head barman or mixologist on call is, but I’m of the belief that complicated cocktails are on their way out in favour of simpler updates of the classics. Gin is here to stay but isn’t the darling it once was. But I could be wrong given that I’ve fallen back in love with The Twankey Bar and the excellent work that AJ has been doing there of late with his reinvention of such a traditional space with his special brand of cocktail magic.
Wonder upstairs to the more private spaces I’m sure will be en vogue long into the autumn season as the Pretty Young Things celebrate birthdays and ‘intimate corporate’ bashes secluded behind the raw wood shutters which swing open to reveal panoramic views over Camps Bay beach. Still, the most striking thing in this room, beyond the obscene amounts of money for pouring rights spent by mainstream liquor brands, is the eye-catching quirky pineapple-motif wallpaper from Designer Soil & Co. and selected from the Robin Sprong Wallpaper Collection. I think I like it best because it reminds me of the décor in my gorgeous suite at Villa Marie Saint-Barth last September.
“We’ve moved away from traditional Spanish tapas. We’ve kept the concept of small plates built for sharing, but we’ve tried to elevate the level of elegance and quality,” explains head chef Martin Senekal. “The menu is focused on serving fresh seafood dishes, prepared simply and plated beautifully.” This is reflected quite nicely with the hot and cold tapas offering which is both varied and delicious with small and large portions available. And to soak up all those cocktails is a selection of enticing mains on offer that includes line fish with salsa verde and paprika calamari. Perhaps the menu’s most redeeming virtue is their nod to local sourcing practices with the Serrano ham cured locally by Lucas Jamon.
This winter will see the shutters closed for a few weeks as a spacious wrap-around deck is added to the first-floor, offering unbeatable sea and mountain views and expanding the number of al fresco tables on offer for next summer. I would think that it would be a great time to disclose that I will most likely not be a regular at this La Parada, or any of the others dotted around the Cape but I will certainly make a concerted effort to give it a chance.