Referred by a friend…The Athletic Club & Social by Nicholas van Haght

Nicholas van Haght, Experience Host, scoped out a new inner-city gem on Buitengracht Street. We urge you to keep The Athletic Club & Social ‘our secret’, before it becomes wildly popular. It’s inevitable. This restaurant, bar and social club is something truly unique.

Before you get too comfortable as you sink into a plush velvet-covered armchair in one of the Club’s many cosy corners, take a look around this triple-story Victorian building that dates back to the 1900s. Its décor takes you on a journey through time and around the world. Colonial with a modern touch, the elaborate wallpaper, wicker chairs and Persian carpets make it seem like a fantasy.

The menu is the perfect size, with a nice compliment of vegetarian options on the starters list. While there are only five mains to choose from, they display plenty of variety and fantastic flavours. A talented young South African chef has crafted the perfect summer menu, offering more of a mezze family-style menu. Order for the table and indulge in the ultimate social setting.

Good to know: Upstairs only serves a bar menu but if its drinks you’re after, take a seat in a private lounge or out on the large deck, that looks out onto Signal Hill. With a great selection of wine and cocktails, it’s ideal for that late afternoon/early evening get-together.

Insider’s tip: Bring your dancing shoes. The basement downstairs takes you back a few decades with its vinyl-only DJ deck, Thursday through Saturday.

Finally, where does the ‘athletic’ element come in? South Africa’s history is immortalised and shown in a way not many places in the country can offer. Pre-democratic South Africa is often lost in the sports scene, but this whimsical club that was once an underground speakeasy of sorts brings it back to life through some fantastic pictures of sports teams from all backgrounds and ethnicities, memorabilia and vintage sporting gear that shows how far we have come in sport. The Athletic Club & Social showcases some brilliant highlights of South Africa’s vibrant history and represents diversity in South African sport dating back decades.

Images courtesy of Karl Rogers

The Athletic Club & Social