For the British-born chef, wine is so much more than just another beverage. It is, according to him (and to the many of us who have dedicated much time to the noble art of wine drinking), a culture — a way of life and an interest that brings people together. So, when the space next door to his casual-cum-fine-dining Bree Street restaurant Grub and Vine became available, Matt Manning decided the time was ripe to open a wine bar (despite lockdown, a pandemic, and everything else 2020 has thrown at us). And so, Culture came to be.
Enlisting the help of seasoned wine-industry stalwart and aficionado Chris Groenewald, who joins the bar as manager, the duo hopes to create a space that is both comfortable and accessible to all who enjoy good wine.
“The wonderful thing about wine is that it brings people together. However, there is often an element of snobbery that is part-and-parcel when it comes to drinking wine,” says Manning. “We hope to create an inclusive space that is welcoming to people from all walks of life, and of all ages, backgrounds, and professions. If you appreciate good wine, Culture is for you.”
Under the well-honed palate of Groenewald, the carefully curated wine list will be rooted in minimal-intervention winemaking. The hope is to showcase the best there is to offer in South Africa, across the different styles of wines and grape varieties. Expect a list comprising a stellar selection of fine wines from the country’s most respected winemakers and wineries, in addition to cult classics, hidden gems, natural wines, and (while the focus is predominantly local) some special imports from across the globe too.
Food, Manning believes, will also be differentiator with Culture, carrying through Grub & Vine’s ethos of good, honest, seasonal cooking. The menu will be concise and, in addition to the expected bar snacks, the likes of charcuterie and cheese will also feature an array of Manning’s creations based on “whatever else catches my fancy that day,” according to Manning. Look out for the prawn po’boy, pork pie, and croque-monsieur.
The space itself — designed by Monya Eastman of Stokperd — will be both warm and contemporary. While adjacent to Grub & Vine, and sharing the same entrance, Culture very much has its own identity, with just small touches of continuity in the decor linking restaurant and bar. Expect a bold, rust-and-ink colour palette complemented by marble bar counters and leather booths.
The bones of the building are beautiful, and Manning and his team have done as much as they can to celebrate the 200-year-old heritage building. They highlight rather than hide the real wood floors, thick walls, high-beamed ceilings, and exposed brickwork that runs down one side of the space.
• Culture opens 30 October 2020.
Where to find it: 103 Bree Street, Cape Town
Tues – Friday, 16:00 – 23:30 (while curfew is in effect)
Sat 12h00 – 00h00 (while curfew is in effect)