The revamped Blanko at the Alphen Boutique Hotel is drawing in crowds of hungry locals. The shady terrace is ideal for lazy summer lunches, while indoors, the feel is more upmarket: think sleek leather banquettes, elegant stemware, enviable contemporary South African art (including works by Brett Murray, William Kentridge and David Goldblatt) and a separate bar/ lounge to sip on a pre-dinner martini. That en vogue approach is matched by a menu of modern Italian cuisine, from smaller sharing plates of stuzzichini (southern Italian antipasti), to a delicious selection of starter-sized antipasti. Here the duo of asparagus with baked ricotta should catch your eye. The wide range of main courses stretches across fish, meat, pasta and pizza, offering something for most palates. Lamb cutlets benefit from a hit of salty anchovy butter, while pasta highlights include the classics, from silky carbonara to the hearty agnolotti with lamb ragù. The choice of dolci (dessert) to finish is steadfastly Italian: zabaglione, tiramisu and semifreddo, among others. The food is matched by a very capable wine list, with an excellent choice by the glass. Alphen Boutique Hotel, Alphen Drive, Constantia; 021-795-6313.
By Richard Holmes