Restaurant Review: Duchess of Wisbeach no grand lady!


A popular new Cape Town restaurant, which is heavily booked already despite only operating for about a month, is Duchess of Wisbeach in Sea Point.

Owner Theresa Beukes moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg, where she owned Fino’s in Parktown North, and Sam’s Cafe in Melville, and ran a cookery school (see more about Theresa’s philosopohy about running a restaurant, and loves it here.  “Cape Town has been good to me”, she says.  She says they are fully booked most nights, and turn tables over twice most nights.

Wisbeach Road is not easy to find – from Beach Road one drives up alongside the Winchester Mansions Hotel, and turns first left.  The restaurant is just before the stop street, at Main Road.   The exterior already attracts interest – a British terrace house look, with striped canopy.   One steps inside a large bar area, with a massive stuffed cow’s head keeping an eye on things in the bar, giving a strong masculine first impression.   From the bar area one moves into the tiny but buzzing restaurant, with just 14 tables, seating just over 40 patrons at a time.   The tables are very close together.  The interior decor has an old-world British feel to it, and feels feminine, and one thinks of The Grand Cafe’s in Camps Bay and in Plettenberg Bay, although there are no velvet curtains.   One’s first reaction is that one has stepped into an oasis, from grubby Sea Point outside.

The food preparation area is inside the restaurant, and is at a raised level, allowing Theresa and her kitchen colleagues cooking in the “galley kitchen”, as she calls it, to have a good eye over the restaurant, without the patrons seeing what is going on behind the counter.   Theresa’s sense of humour is soon evident, as every table has a porcelain dog on it, rather than flowers, as one could expect.   A real well-behaved dog can be seen in the restaurant too.

The waitresses are beautifully dressed in bustier-style cocktail dresses which could be made from silk, most wearing it in black, but a cream-coloured dress looks equally attractive.   The menu and winelist are printed on cream coloured paper, a no-nonsense listing.   The wines look well-priced.  A glass of Colmant Cap Classique costs R 35, the bottle of Iona Gunnar is the most expensive at R 190, while the De Grendel Merlot and Shiraz cost R 139 each.   The starters cost R 45 – R 55, and include ‘Queen Mother’s Prawn Cocktail’, a traditional shrimp and avocado cocktail, with the avocado skin removed, and the prawns being warm.  It would have been nicer with cold prawns.   The presentation is unexciting, served on a bed of shredded lettuce.   Other starters include steak tartare, fish cakes, and fish fingers.   Mains cost R 70 – R 85, and include chicken curry, prawns, fillet steak, chicken bangers, lamb knuckle, fish and chips and the line fish.  Desserts cost between R 35 – R 45, and the choice includes ice cream, pannacotta and chocolate mousse.

Our waitress is charming, and is honest in telling us that it is her first night at the restaurant.  One would not have thought so.   Food is brought to the table quickly, and the starter and main course are served within an hour of arriving.  The fillet is not special, the verdict being that the quality of the meat is not what it could be.  The kingklip is excellent, with a unique lemon, orange and ginger sauce.  Theresa does not use cream or butter in her cooking, so the sauce is thin and runny, but yummy!   The chocolate mousse is served in a coffee cup, with a dollop of cream on top, tasting a little sour.   The portion sizes are small, and this explains the good prices of the dishes on the menu.  

Theresa chats with us, in between a quick smoke break, and tells us that a lot about her restaurant is tongue in cheek, especially the name, which may create an expectation of grandeur, but in reality is unpretentious and good value, she says.   The food presentation certainly reflects this, with no attempt made to decorate the plates.   The business card has  “bord kos” written under the name of the restaurant, and that is exactly what one gets at the Duchess of Wisbeach!

The total cost of one starter, two main courses, one glass of bubbly and one dessert was R290.

Duchess of Wisbeach is in The Courtyard Building, 1 Wisbeach Road, Sea Point, tel 021 434 1525.

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19 replies on “Restaurant Review: Duchess of Wisbeach no grand lady!”

  1. Food good but expensive for portion amount. Needs some extra-maybe some bread sticks and some included vegetable or salad with main. Lentils supposed to have cumen, but tasted only of sharp lemon, and on quering with Theresa, told that is the way it is made-impression given-take it or leave it, but pay for it.

  2. Food not too bad, but the service exceptionally bad and slow. Restaurant very difficult to find and parking impossible. Vegetable not included in main meals and priced over the top. Not necessarily recommend to my friends. Waiters really need some training.

  3. Quite remarkable. I wrote a review on this website and it was removed. Chris, what’s up? Imposing censorship? Tut, tut, tut, my dear.

  4. Now let me repeat what I said about Duchess. It started off on a good note, to use a cliche.

    But soon the toxic personality of the owner poisoned the whole place. Perhaps she will take stock of her life, after yet again, being arrested for drunken driving and locked up for the night in police cells.

    Herman Lategan.

  5. Nooit skat – blame it on a ‘dof’ finger that pressed the delete button for the comments instead of the spam!

  6. Good to read Konstabel Lategan’s comments, thanks for uncensoring him Chris. Difficult to find, impossible to park? Get a GPS to find your way in your own town. A pity Theresa hasn’t built an unnerground porking for you, Susanna. Hope you can manage 40 metres from your car to the restaurant. A vegetable with the main course? You’re it! Its wonderful to have food served on the plate instead of that tower so beloved of Cape Town’s “award winning” restaurants. In fact I’ve started a competition, prize is a meal at The Duchess, Wisbeach Rd, off Main Rd, Sea Point (use Laughton’s Hardware as your landmark if you get lost.) Includes a bottle of their hugely expensive R55 house Sauvignon Blanc, open to the first reader who can submit a mention in the press of a Cape Town restaurant or wine estate, that doesn’t also include the words “award winning” in the same sentence.

  7. Very Dissipointing!! Our waitress was rude all the way and very demanding and screaming at us. Wine list not up to standard and our chicken was undercooked. The chickpea and lentil dish tasted awfull! Over crouded and noisy. Wil defnitally not Recomend this place to anyone and will never go back there again. What a waste!!!

  8. Made reservations a couple of days ago, only to arrive last night – with no one knowing of our booking. Had to sit and wait at the bar for over an hour! Only to get taken through to the worst table in the spot – then proceeded to wait another 15 min before someone came to take orders… and low and behold another 30min to wait for our food – totally overpriced and one of my worst dining experiences in Cape up to date!!!!! Think they should be better off just closing their doors – what happened to good service in this city?????????????

  9. Well I have it on very good authority that the owner hates bikers and paints the bike parking indications over with black paint so she can park there. I’ll never eat at such a place.

      • …and now the owner has outdone herself…she has become a vaccine bully. Shame, she doesn’t even know that the vaccine doesn’t stop the spread of the coronavirus. Also, she has done this because it is done in Europe. Wake up baby, you are in South Africa.

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