John Van Zyl is a chef who likes to fly under the radar. Don’t expect TV shows, branded cookware or product endorsement deals. Rather, he just quietly goes about his business serving up some of the best food South Africa has to offer.
Until recently you had to drive for an hour from Cape Town to taste Van Zyl’s cooking, and the winelands setting in the Elgin Valley is certainly a wonderful way to take a deep dive into the small plates he’s cooking up at The Melting Pot.
And while his Elgin restaurant remains worth the trip for its concise menu of globally-inspired small plates, at Time Out Market Cape Town he brings a whole new take on the Melting Pot experience.
Here, Van Zyl turns his focus to the Cape’s bountiful seafood while drawing plenty of inspiration from his own travels abroad. That could mean tuna sashimi with fermented black bean dressing, coconut and mint, through to beer-battered hake sliders with smoked potato purée and (of course) a best-in-class tartar sauce. In a city famous for its seafood, Van Zyl sets the bar high with his concise menu of superb small plates.
THE MELTING POT SEAFOOD MENU
Linefish Sashimi R140 (Fermented black bean dressing, coconut, mint)
Peruvian Mixed Seafood ceviche R145 (Butternut purée, tortilla chips)
Beetroot-cured Salmon R140 (Mint & dill yoghurt dressing, dill pickled cucumber)
Chargrilled Octopus R135 (Cauliflower purée, bacon shrimp XO dressing)
Fried Fish Tacos R120 (Smoked potato aioli, tartar sauce, house pickles, shredded lettuce)
Fried Squid Sandwich R120 (Chilli paste, dashi aioli, shredded lettuce)
Shrimp Mac & Cheese R120 (Cajun-spiced shrimp, parmesan herb crumb)
Fried Squid & Black Risotto R135 (Squid ink & chorizo risotto, parsley emulsion)
West Coast Mussels R135 (Toasted sourdough, crisp fennel salad)
Thai Steamed Fish R135 (Coriander & ginger Kingklip, fragrant herb & rice noodle salad)
Saldanha Bay Oysters R30 (R35 with Cape Malay or Vietnamese dressing)
Coconut & Thai Lime Panna Cotta R75 (Pineapple salsa, pineapple & ginger granita)