There’s a new, grand dame on Cape Town’s bustling Bree street, she goes by The Bailey, and she’s sensationally and eccentrically stylish.
I am, of course, speaking of the latest collaboration between celebrated chef Liam Tomlin and the owners of Tintswalo Lodges (following on from the successful partnership of Chef’s Warehouse Tintswalo), The Bailey on Bree.
The three-storey culinary destination (situated within a historic building in Cape Town’s city centre) has opened its doors at No 91 of the foodie-centric Bree Street. The multilevel offering caters to those discerning individuals with a passion for food, wine and good company.
Overseeing the kitchens (there’s one on each level) of this impressive and multifaceted operation will be executive chef Jacques Grove. The talented young chef is taking the reins having been promoted from senior sous at the group’s Tintswalo property.
Predominantly French-inspired, each of the three levels transports you to a time and place where things are slower, finer details are appreciated and there’s always time for a coffee and croissant, or an after-work whisky. It’s design has you looking twice, with textures you want to run your hands over and details you keep catching more of even when you think you’ve seen it all.
The ground level houses the glamorous Café Bailey where a selection of patisserie, cakes and baked goods are served alongside speciality teas, coffees and fresh juices. This is in addition to the café-style breakfasts and lunches, as well as an intimate high tea service.
Inspired by a Parisian café, it is an absolutely elaborate affair. A magnificent, multitiered, palatial chandelier illuminates the grey marble-topped bistro tables (modernised with a matte finish), which are accompanied by dark-wood bentwood chairs with neatly placed black and white pinstripe cushions.
To the right is the coffee counter where on-the-go breakfasts and pastries can be found within their glass countertops. To the left, the brooding grey wall adorned with 19th-century French Napoleon III-style gilded mirrors, is both complemented and contrasted by the two elongated Channel-back sofas in a deep emerald green that rest against it.
Moving through the bakery you make your way up to champagne bar, the honed marble and clean lines are in stark contrast to the old-school grandeur by which it is surrounded. It’s this play of old and new, expected and unexpected, which keeps you excited to explore.
The ground floor will, no doubt, be the place to be for all-day breakfasts and lazy lunching, or a pre-dinner aperitif and bite — the champagne bar running both a seafood and jamon iberico offering in addition to the café menu.
Next, head up to the first floor where you’ll find the brasserie. The shades and textures of the bakery are replaced with deep, dark woods and the decadence of red velvet and rich, chocolate brown leather.
Reminiscent of a gentleman’s club of a time gone by, the eatery pays homage to grand European tradition. Here, the menu features a host of iconic French dishes — think the likes of bouillabaisse, bourguignon, and crepe suzette (flambéed tableside), together with top-notch wines from their 1,400 bottle cellar. The classic-French fare is matched by expert service and a touch of hospitality theatrics as the maitre d' holds the floor.
As Tomlin is a lover of art, it’s perhaps no surprise that it plays a prominent part in each of the different areas, particularly on this floor. The walls are already adorned with an array of local artworks, though the chef assures us it’s just the start of a growing collection at The Bailey.
Of special mention is the private dining room, named in honour and memory of the award-winning SA artist and friend of the chef, the late Paul du Toit. A striking break from the old-school aesthetic of the main dining room, here the screed flooring is speckled with paint and the walls feature the artist’s colourful contemporary works, while his sculptures stand sentinel in the corners. The room, a recreation modelled on the artist’s studio, can be booked for private dinners, and it’s glass doors allow it to be closed off from the rest of the restaurant.
Last, but certainly not least, the top floor is where “The Old Bailey” whisky bar can be found. The most contemporary of the levels, the dark and moody bar draws inspiration from the private member’s clubs of London and New York.
The sophisticated space includes 68 member’s lockers, which will be available with a yearly membership and the opportunity to be stocked with a curated and limited selection of fine and rare whiskies. And also allowing access to a selection of private and bespoke tastings.
Pre-opening, the list — overseen by bar manager and whisky connoisseur Cameron Paulse — sits at 288 bottles, with the idea being to grow it to one of the most comprehensive in the country.
In addition, the bar also offers a premium wine selection and a classic cocktail menu. While the open terrace, which leads off it, is a perfect place gather — perhaps with a glass of something special and a cigar from the humidors.
An impressively stunning operation from concept through to design, menu and service. The Bailey is sure to be the talk of Bree Street for a long time to come, offering something for everyone and every moment of the day.
The ground floor café has opened for service, with the brasserie and The Old Bailey whisky bar set to launch next week, on the June 14.
91 Bree St Cape Town
Trading hours Monday to Saturday:
Café Bailey: 7am to 9pm
Brasserie Bailey: Lunch from midday to 2.30pm and dinner from 6pm to 9pm (opening June 14)
Old Bailey: 3pm to late and Saturdays from 5pm to late (opening June 14).