An elegant destination restaurant a mere 30 to 40 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, Cucina Labia offers top-notch Italian-inspired cuisine with panoramic views of False Bay to match. Under the management of food lovers Andrea and Oscar Foulkes of the successful Cape Town based catering company, Dish Food & Social, the eatery is housed in the historic historic Casa Labia, where original art by Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto, Francois Boucher and others, is displayed in a manner that belies both its rarity and value. The graciousness of the building, and the way it imposes itself on the False Bay coastline, is a product of it being built in the 1920s by the wealthy daughter of a Randlord and her Italian diplomat husband, who wanted to reflect 18th century Venice.
With this as backdrop, what cuisine could possibly match Casa Labia’s sense of occasion?
At Cucina Labia, there are certainly some Italian-inspired dishes, with head chef Monché Muller’s deconstructed tiramisu doffing a cap to the art world with its Pollock-esque presentation. However, the menu is as eclectic as her culinary journey. Chef Monché comes with stories of interesting adventures and stints at top restaurants like The Test Kitchen and as columnist for popular foodie magazine, TASTE.
She was introduced to cooking at the age of 12, by watching Jamie Oliver on BBC Food. She kept her young mind busy by drawing the food she saw on TV, creating her own world of flavour and visual fantasy. Even now, she plans her menus by first drawing pictures of dishes, and then writing the recipes that will produce them.
Her special touch, honed over an exciting decade of formal education and work in the field, is revealed in a number of bright summer dishes new to the a la carte menu, like the pistachio pepper braaied fresh tuna with grapefruit, artichoke caponata and watercress offered as starter, and rich mains such as leg of lamb kataifi Wellington, almonds, white anchovies, leek puree, fennel and bay leaf cream. The famous deconstructed Tiramisu with Amaretti, espresso, chocolate and sabayon firmly retains its place on her menu.
Cucina Labia offers both al fresco and interior dining and reception spaces, all beautifully decorated and styled.
It’s certainly a lovely spot for laid-back breakfast and brunch, delicious lunch, stylish high tea, and magnificent Friday evening fine dining. The curated wine selection matches wonderfully with scrumptious, well-thought-out food, brimming with freshness.
The restaurant is housed in several adjoining rooms, which makes it a perfect location for smaller groups wanting private gatherings. With a seating capacity of 80 and cocktail reception of 120, it is also ideal for bigger events such as year-end functions, birthdays and weddings. Chef Monché has styled a well-rounded canapé menu and a choice of set menus for any festivity. Menus change with the season, and specially designed offerings, including creative wedding cakes, are available on request.
Chef Monché is assisted in the kitchen by sous chef, Sumaya Pillay; senior chef de partie, Laura Morris; demi chef, Babalwa Nkuzo; senior chef de partie, Phumeza Qapeza; and senior chef de partie, Alex Vushe.
Cucina Labia is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 16:00, Saturday to Sunday from 09:00 to 16:00, and Friday evenings from 18:00 to 22:00.
Look out for details of seasonal activities and events, music concerts, poetry readings, and book launches.