Say Bonjour to Liam Tomlin’s Authentic French Brasserie

We’ve been dying to explore the three-storey culinary destination on Cape Town’s Bree Street. Read on to experience an evening at The Brasserie at the Bailey with us.

By Tayla Sassen

Positioned on the first floor of The Bailey at 91 Bree Street, the Parisian-styled Brasserie stands out amongst the swathes of restaurants lining this part of the city. Walking through the doors feels like a step back in time to an era when glamour and theatre were all part of the dining experience. The dark walls are lined with bottles of the finest wines and velvet and leather chairs surround elegant wooden tables, all decked out in crisp white tablecloths and table settings fit for royalty.

Open for dinner Monday to Saturday, the Brasserie menu offers a contemporary dining experience with a serious emphasis on the best of French bistro traditions. The menu has something for everyone, from oysters and caviar to escargot and ratatouille.

On the waiter’s recommendation, we ordered a carnivore’s dream: steak tartare, duck leg confit, and steak au poivre. The steak tartare was one of the highlights of the meal. Made tableside, our waiter explained the entire process in detail and was able to adjust the seasoning to our individual tastes. The steak was cooked to perfection and was accompanied by an elevated pepper sauce and hand-cut chips that have now made their way into my top five fries list. The duck leg confit was moist and flavourful and was paired with foie gras agnolotti, meaty oyster mushrooms, and a red wine jus.

What is a French brasserie dinner without dessert? If you want to taste a little of everything, I’d recommend the dessert trolley. The chef himself presented each dish to us, which included a delectable chocolate parfait, paired with homemade rum and raisin ice cream; a light and fresh strawberry torte; a warm pear tarte tatin; a playful take on cookies and cream in the form of a macaron; and a baked cheesecake that will forever hold a place in my heart.

Our drinks were as memorable as the meal: Upon our arrival, we were presented with a French 75 – a fresh sparkling wine cocktail. Throughout the meal, our waiter expertly paired each dish with the ideal wine. To go with the steak tartare: Vilafonté’s Seriously Old Dirt, a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend. The steak was paired with a slightly spicy Hartenberg Shiraz that perfectly complemented the pepper sauce. And for the duck, a gentle Oak Valley Pinot Noir.

After dinner, we made our way upstairs to the Old Bailey, a stylish whisky bar that will transport you straight into a 1920s speakeasy. The space is dark and moody, filled with an abundance of soft velvet couches that you could just sink into. Though they call it a whisky bar, the Old Bailey offers a wide variety of cocktails and wines too.

Not only are the drinks expertly crafted, but so is the atmosphere. A live jazz band performs most weekends, curating the perfect ambience for you to sink into one of the sofas and enjoy your drink of choice.

But it’s in the little touches that The Bailey really captured our heart: The staff at The Bailey are friendly, knowledgeable, and go the extra mile for every customer. Each time I left my seat, I came back to a perfectly folded napkin and straightened cutlery. The waiters are extraordinary in the way that they explain the finest details of each dish and they welcome any question big and small.

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