Taj Hotel, Wale St, Cape Town. Tel: 021 819 2000. tajcapetown.co.za/dining/twankeybar/ Tapas R75, mains R75-195. 330ml local draught craft beer R30-45.
The Twankey is at its liveliest when office workers pop in for post-work drinks, so our lunchtime visit was a quiet one, but I can’t help loving the decor here – it’s a cross between an upmarket English pub/wine bar and a smart hotel lobby, complete with coffered ceiling, dark wooden floors and a secluded upstairs gallery that’s great for a romantic tryst or a lone lunch with your laptop.
The lunchtime menu is small and despite the fact that Twankey is probably better known as a champagne bar it seems the food has been planned with beer in mind. There are a couple of steaks and salads, a lone burger and one or two sandwiches on the menu, but most popular are the snack plates and sharing platters. Oysters are always on the menu (The Twankey is well known for them) and you’ll also find goodies like roasted chicken wings, nachos and a play on jalapeño poppers – the chilies are chopped up and blended with cream cheese before being crumbed and fried. They rank very highly on my list of Cape Town chili poppers (not exactly an extensive list I’d admit, but they were really good). The fries are also awesome. On Monday evenings, curry is also on the menu – get chicken tikka with rice or naan plus a flight of three craft beer tasters for R90.
I always expect friendly, knowledgable service when I eat out. What I look for in particular for this category is beer knowledge. If an establishment is going to somewhat specialise in craft beer, they need to know a bit about it. Our server at Twankey was a non-drinker, but he admitted that he does taste the beers they stock. And his favourite is Blockhouse, so that got some bonus points. All our beer-related questions were answered and everything arrived on time and with a smile, so no complaints here.
Twankey has long been associated with Guinness, but alas there is no Guinness on tap anymore, though it is still available in a can (R50). On tap you’ll find CBC amber weiss, Jack Black lager, CBC pilsner, Jack Black amber and Devil’s Peak Blockhouse IPA – a reasonable range. I was – as I always am – happy to find the beers laid out on a menu (why oh why do some places refuse to put beers on their menus when they will put wine, soft drinks and even water on there!?) but disappointed to find that most of the bottled beers were not available. I think the beer selection is going through a revamp so keep an eye out for new additions. Until then, it’s the five draught beers, Guinness in cans and the usual SAB/NBL bottles. If you’re not sure what to order or want to taste a range, grab a tasting flight (three 100ml tasters, R35).
The Twankey is one of those places that has been around forever and that people walk past without wondering what might lie within. It’s not so much a place for a fancy lunch as a spot to chill and chat and sip and snack. The focus is leaning more towards beer all the time, so drop in and see what’s on the menu. It’s a fine place to celebrate the end of another work day, or for those who carry their ofiice with them, during the day it’s quiet, cosy, has free WiFi and serves great beer and coffee (oh OK, and wine as well, if you must… 😉 )
Disclosure: I was invited for a complimentary meal at The Twankey Bar. I strive to keep all reviews impartial regardless of whether the establishment has invited me or not.