Restaurant Review: Sampling Cape Town’s Sensational Sentir

Please note: Regrettably, Sentir is now closed.


My first review for 2018 started off in a fine manner: with a sensational supper at Sentir Tapas and Spirits Space, one of newer arrivals to the Cape Town foodie scene. Situated within a 102-year-old building in Long Street (the street that never sleeps), Sentir Tapas and Spirits Space lies above the famous micro-bakery, Loaves on Long.

Indeed, Sentir has something of a secret entrance – and it’s quite enchanting – as one passes through the cosy bakery, almost unsuspecting of what lies just up the stairs… And yet above it all, in all its suave and elegant glory, lies the speakeasy-meets-tapas space: Sentir.

Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

Discovering something special in the street that never sleeps…

It takes quite a lot to wow me, especially from a restaurant point of view, but even from the moment we set foot over Sentir’s threshold, I sensed something special.

Owners Rickma Coxon and Ciska Rossouw – who is also the hugely talented Loaves on Long baker and Sentir chef – haven’t made a fuss promoting Sentir online or even from the outside… Instead, it’s a walk-in restaurant space that speaks for itself.

In fact, a large part of Sentir’s natural charm exists in discovering this eclectic space, which doubles as an ever-changing art gallery. (Here, EOS art pieces change on a monthly basis.)


The interesting art displays, ghost chairs mixed with comfy, plush couches (shaded in hues of midnight blue velvet) work surprisingly well with the kokedamas (suspended air plants), Delft themes and of course, the beautifully preserved original wooden floors.

Even in the evening, Sentir’s interior feels airy and light. Yet somehow, it is modern and daring too, combining the best elements interior design has to offer. What’s more, this small, yet intimate space is keenly reflective of Rickma’s sophisticated tastes and careful selections.

Complemented by relaxed music and a prevailing chilled vibe, Sentir is one oh-so-soothing space, where you can sit and enjoy a great meal or after-work drinks with friends or loved ones.

Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

This is especially true given that Sentir is only open from Wednesdays to Saturdays, from 16:00 pm – 22:00 pm (the bar is open from 16:00 pm, while the kitchen serves its full tapas menu from 18:00 pm onwards).

Meanwhile outside, the balcony seating overlooks bustling Long Street… It removes you from the masses, while still allowing you to soak up that buzzing city atmosphere.

Bespoke drinks and shared plates

Sentir is certainly the place to go for bespoke drinks of note, especially as they offer a tailored and formidable drinks menu, which oozes quality. Think potstill brandy, bubbly, craft beer and fine wines, as well as the likes of Drifter Brewing Company Buchu G&T on tap, Grabouw-sourced gin and Woodstock Tonic – otherwise known as “the tall ginger” cocktail. This is made with Spytail Ginger Rum and Stoney Ginger Beer (mixed with angostura orange bitters and freshly squeezed lime).

sentir-ian-du-toitPhoto credit: Ian du Toit

And believe me when I say: the drinks are beyond amazing and wonderfully refreshing. Depending on what you order, alcoholic beverages at Sentir range from R35 – R300 – but, for me, all the prices are relative and reasonable.

I was positively smitten with our Drifter Buchu Gin and Tonic on tap, while my boyfriend loved the Tall Ginger cocktail… but the takeaway here is: Sentir is all about amazing drinks.

And I must say, the small bar area is pretty cool too – I particularly liked the beer taps embedded in the wall!

Drinks aside… Let’s talk tantalising tapas

All diners at Sentir are given a complimentary starter from chef Ciska. Ours was Melba toast (100% rye in this instance), accompanied by honey butter, homemade aioli and beetroot puree.


The homemade aioli was divine, while the bread – sourced from the bakery below – had an awesome texture and was especially delicious with either the aioli or honey butter… The honey butter makes for an interesting mixture when sampled with the aioli and beetroot. (Side note: I also liked the cool, raised boards we ate on and the crockery was beautiful too.)

Chef Ciska has carefully curated the tapas menu into defined sections: salty, spicy sour, sweet, bitter and umami. This offers guests a fresh approach from the tired starter, main and dessert format. Thanks to this, mealtime and the menu are playful and fun, and take your palate on a unique culinary trip.

Meals are also reasonably priced as general tapas prices go, costing you between R50-R90 per dish.

If it seems expensive to you, bear in mind that tapas meals (or small plate dining, as some call it) encourages guests to share their meal with someone else. This allows you to sample new flavours and really bond together over a meal.

It’s a more relaxed and intimate dining experience – but, for your tummy to feel satisfied, you may want to order between two to four tapas dishes.

beef-tartare-sentir-tapas-spirits-placePhoto credit: @jakkalsfontein

Another thing I also really appreciated about Sentir is that diners are asked whether they suffer from any allergies or if there is anything they don’t eat outright. In our case, it was a no on both fronts, and this provided me especially with some interesting food firsts! 🙂

Sensational small plate dining at Sentir

Our first meal was from the umami section. We were served fresh Saldanha Bay oysters, with accompanying deep-fried capers, shallots, cucumbers and fresh watermelon squares.


Eating oysters was a (at first) scary new experience for me – but after some two to three years in the food writing industry, I am well-used to trying new and ‘unusual’ meals. It was better than I expected (especially since, long ago, I had sworn to never try oysters…) and, as Rickma pointed out, when paired with the watermelon, these oysters are less pungent and fishy than most because the watermelon softens the flavours.

The capers and watermelon squares went really well together (and with the oysters, of course) – and, although I found the oysters had a fishy, almost metallic taste, I can still appreciate their quality.

sentir-risottoPhoto credit: @jakkalsfontein

Next up, we tried this delicious duo: (for salty) gorgeous risotto dish, with beautiful Prosciutto, and (for umami) a perfect potato gnocchi dish, served with salami and Parmesan cheese.

Honestly, both dishes were absolutely sublime. As someone who always orders one of these two dishes whenever she sees them on a menu, I know my risotto and gnocchi pretty well by now – and these were hands-down the best of both I have ever had; they were faultless!


Our final dish (before the sweet) was Beef Tartare, served with quail egg yolk, toasted sesame and scallion, salted crispy rice noodles, pear puree and homemade aioli. Again, this was a first for us both (especially on the beef tartare and quail egg score) but it was very nice meal.  It looked almost too good to eat, as it was made to look like a perfect little nest. This was an exceptionally well-balanced meal, in which all the flavours merged together.


The plating and presentation at Sentir is another thing that thoroughly impressed me – it’s fine dining style, but without the usual fuss and pretension.

Saving the best for last… perfect panna cotta

vanilla-panna-cotta-sentirPhoto credit: @jakkalsfontein

After that, it was time for dessert: vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberry mousse, lime, coconut and biscuit crumble. To say it was a positively gorgeous dessert just doesn’t do it enough justice – but it was perfect, believe me!

And there truly are no words for the combination of that strawberry mousse with the panna cotta.

Some final notes in closing:

ian-du-toit-cape-townPhoto credit: Ian du Toit

  • Due to Sentir’s inner-city location, the easiest thing to do is to Uber in and out. It’s safer and more convenient… Plus, you don’t have to trek far to find paid parking or to drive in circles hunting for a parking space.
  • At present, due to the severe drought facing the Western Cape and Cape Town in particular, Sentir will not replace or remove cutlery in between meals. This is an admirable water-saving method and one I was pleased to see first-hand during our visit.
  • On Saturdays, Chef Ciska (aka Madame Baker) offers croissant, ciabatta and rye baking courses at Loaves on Long. For more information, please contact Loaves on Long directly.
  • Sentir also participates in the popular First Thursdays, offering the likes of tapas, art and wine.
  • The Loaves on Long bakery closes (and is normally sold out) early, so don’t expect to grab a beautifully fresh loaf while you’re at Sentir – you’ll just have to make a return trip!
  • Another awesome thing about Sentir? It’s an oddly romantic place to enjoy a meal with your significant other.
  • In French, Sentir means ” to sense, to feel, to taste, to smell” – and it certainly lives up to its name!
  • Fun fact: Sentir Tapas and Spirits Space is housed in what was once a former Victorian wine merchants’ headquarters.
  • If possible, I recommend letting either Rickma or chef Ciska advise you on what to order, for they certainly surprised us with some excellent choices, which we would not otherwise have thought to order!

To be completely honest, I think our experience was Sentir was, in every way, sensational. And the welcome and service from owners Rickma and Ciska right down to their assisting team of staff was great.


Chef Ciska is hugely talented and humble, and her culinary and baking skills partner perfectly with Rickma’s creative flair (felt throughout Sentir) and her curated cocktails and bespoke drinks.

I am pleased to award Sentir Tapas and Spirits Space a 10/10 rating (it was 8/10 for my boyfriend – but he’s a tough food critic! 😉 ). In terms of the setting, food, drinks and presentation, Sentir needs no improvements… Everything was wonderful right through for me.

If you’re keen to take your taste buds on a food journey of note, look no further than this highly impressive speakeasy! It was certainly one of my more memorable meals in recent years.


Thank you very much to Rickma Coxon, chef Ciska Rossouw, Ian du Toit and the Sentir team for such a sensational evening at Sentir; it was perfect throughout! 

For more information on Sentir Tapas and Spirits Spaceplease contact: +27 (021) 422 3353 or email Rickma at:

You can also find Sentir Tapas and Spirits Space for yourself at: 33 Long Street (above Loaves on Long), Cape Town, South Africa.

Sentir Tapas and Spirits Space is also on leading social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, so be sure to connect with and follow them there.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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