Yann Rey claims he came out of the birth canal loving ice cream. He might be exaggerating somewhat, but growing up in France eating his father's homemade blackcurrant sorbet cemented what became this ex-investment banker’s true calling: starting Unframed Ice Cream, Cape Town's first artisanal ice cream shop on Kloof Street, the go-to destination for the city’s gourmets. After stints living in New York, Paris and Cape Town, Rey has learned a thing or two about traveling. He insists on starting every trip with a call home to Mom and ending it at a fancy hotel "visser au bar," French for "screwed to the bar." Journy sat down with Rey to find out his insider tips on Cape Town, along with his travel must-haves.
South China Dim Sum Bar – Sit on a wood crate and dig into chicken wontons, green papaya salad and black sesame ice cream at this casual dim sum bar, which Rey describes as "dirty and delicious." It gets crowded at the weekend, so book ahead or arrive early.
Babel at Babylonstoren– Indulge in "the most colorful plates you'll ever experience" at Babel, which sticks to the motto "pick, clean and serve." The focus is on South Africa's stunning seasonal produce, chosen daily from the on-site garden and served in a repurposed, minimalist cowshed.
Chefs Warehouse & Canteen – Irish-born owner Liam Tomlin cooks up platters of fresh tapas-style dishes at this laid back eatery on Bree Street. The menu changes daily and there's an extensive selection of local wine, beer and tea to sip alongside.
Molten Toffee – The owners of Molten Toffee wanted to give Cape Town the coffee equivalent of the Cheers bar, where local art hangs on the walls and the baristas remember how many sugars you take in your coffee. It's steps away from Rey's ice cream parlor and he recommends grabbing an almond milk latte—before your daily ice cream, of course!
The Gin Bar – Billing itself as one of South Africa's only speakeasy-style bars, The Gin Bar is Rey's pick for the best G&T in Cape Town. Sit yourself down in the airy courtyard or sidle up to the vintage wood bar and choose from a small but expertly crafted selection of gin cocktails. You'd never believe the space was once a mortuary.
Perfect Cape Town Itinerary
Kleinsky's – Start your day at Kleinsky's Deli in Cape Town's picturesque Sea Point neighborhood, just steps away from the beach. Rey recommends the Reuben sandwich—they're also famous for their fresh made bagels.
Braai (South African barbecue) – The word braai is Afrikaans for barbecue, but this isn't your all-American cookout. The braai is practically a national institution in South Africa and has been proposed as the country's emblematic dining tradition. Traditionally, guests will down local wine as one man takes care of grilling the meats, which range from boerewors (sausages) and steaks to crayfish or snoek (an oily, cold water fish), depending on region. Rey thinks the perfect occasion for a braai would after hiking up Table Mountain, but will save this plan until the city makes it legal to do so!
Take in the views from Lion's Head to get a feel for the perspective of the city.
Top Travel Tips
- "Travel isn't necessarily about traveling great distances across the earth but more about the internal shifts of perspective that make me grow as a person."
- "Always pretend you have priority access at the airport. Nobody will stop you if you have the right attitude."
- "[In long-distance relationships] do always plan your next adventure together [and] don't forget to cherish the mediocre moments."
- "[I always] Google 'best ice cream' and search by nearest location. It's for market research."