Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five Flies Restaurant & Bars – A Contemporary, Cape Town Classic

Named after an iconic Amsterdam restaurant, Cape Town’s elegant and historic Five Flies has become an institution for fine dining with social flair to boot. Not your average watering hole, Five Flies is positioned in the city's legal district, spanning two 18th century buildings, both recognised as National Monuments.

The buildings, used at one time as the home of the Netherlands Club and later as a bank – form a maze of nine dining rooms, including both public and private spaces. Defined by original dark wood panels, ancient tiles and interlinking marble staircases, six layers of paint were removed to reveal ancient friezes making it impossible not to feel the significance of the place.

Some of the rooms are themed – like the Madiba Room, filled with clocks that represent the time Nelson Mandela sacrificed imprisoned, so that we might see a freer South Africa, and the Wine Cellar – originally the bank’s vault, where the fortunes of pioneering entrepreneurs would have been placed for safe-keeping . Now it is a candlelit space reserved for occasions of the heart. From the main dining room to the upstairs bar and the much-loved cigar lounge, the vibe of the place is sophisticated Cape Town, hip and bustling.

All of this is interlinked by the centre cobblestone courtyard, which fills the place with the light that streams from its double-volume atrium. Characterised by exposed stone – as old as the Castle of Good Hope itself – it features an ancient well that is connected to the city’s little-known web of underground canals – a secret that presents itself in the form of bubbles when it rains.

The lunch offering, popular with the legal set, is focused on fare that’s as wholesome and fresh as it is fast and affordable. When you consider the options – think Chargrilled Tandoori Chicken Burger with Lime and Coriander Yoghurt, or Ceaser Salad with Roast Chicken, Cos Lettuce, Rosemary Croutons, Shaved Pecorino and Anchovy Dressing – you might just decide to leave your ‘usual’ for the birds.

The dinner menu, on the other hand, is characterised by contemporary classics that require the luxury of time to enjoy to their fullest. Seafood lovers will delight with the Seared Norwegian Salmon, served with fresh Spinach & Cream, Sweet Corn Ravioli, Port Jus & Thyme Foam, while devoted fans of ‘turf’ will enjoy the ever-popular Braised Lamb Shank on White Onion Puree with Colcannon Mashed Potato, Onion Fritters and Red Wine Jus.

Jo-Ann During, owner of Five Flies, explains, “We are striving to create a new dining culture in this unique part of Cape Town. We’re not interested in turning tables. We want to treat our guests to the complete package. We want patrons to come to Five Flies to enjoy a special gourmet evening that allows them to savour time with good friends, over exceptionally good food.”

From the uniquely historic setting, to food that is pushing the boundaries and a social vibe to match - I think it must be said, she's on to something.


  1. Hi Theresa

    lovely post, I love Five Flies. Such a great place, it has it all! I have so many amazing memories of many nights out, bubbles at the bar and dinner in the lovely courtyard! Ahhh, lovely!

    Cheers from Melbs DL

  2. Thanks Melbs! Aah, bubbles at the bar. You make me want to go back right now. Good times!