Knife restaurant review

What do I like about Knife? I like the fact that someone is trying something new. Many people enjoy meat (obviously not on Mondays) but are a bit over the traditional steakhouse vibe, so having a different option is great. I also like the decor, it’s really done well. As soon as I walked in I felt comfortable. I’ve started to notice recently how much my initial impression of a restaurant is a good early indicator of the experience. I don’t know if my initial impression affects my disposition toward the restaurant (ie. makes me more critical or less critical) or if I’m just getting good at judging restaurants very quickly.

I like that the menu has some interesting and different options, and that it is reasonably priced. Starters at R40 to R65, mains from R55 (burger) to R130 (300g steak with sides & sauce). I like that they use Chalmar beef, so you’re assured of quality. I really like the wine list. Like the sister restaurant, Fork, the wine list is quite short but has really interesting options (most of which I have not even heard of) at reasonable prices. Lastly, I like the booths, they are high so you have maximum privacy.

What don’t I like about Knife? Well, I was a little disappointed with the knives. I remember eating at a restaurant where they bring you a selection of awesome steak knives to choose from (anybody know which one it is?). At Knife we just got el cheapo plastic handled steak knives that you might use at home. I think if your restaurant is called Knife, you should maybe have cool knives. The food is good but not amazing. It’s definitely worth checking out but I don’t know if I would leave town for a repeat visit. It’s certainly a fantastic option if you live in Century City though.

What’s the story? Well, Knife is an ‘American smokehouse’. Their speciality is oak smoked ribs, marinated in their secret BBQ sauce. We tried some and they are delicious but very rich. We also tried the twice cooked cajun lamb rib starter (R65), quite dry but so soft and tasty. Not everything is smoked, just a few things and it’s very subtle. I’m not a big fan of smoked food so appreciated that the smokiness was very light. The menu has some unusual options that lean into the American theme, like Creole mussel curry starter (R45), Southern fried chicken (R70) and Creole fishcake (R65). We went for the more traditional option, a rump steak (R95 for 200g) with a cumin & cream sauce which was different in a good way. I had a sirloin (R110 for 200g) with green peppercorn and bourbon sauce which I didn’t like so much, the bourbon makes it a bit sour I think. The steaks were nice, but not amazing. The rump was rare when we asked for medium rare and the sirloin tasted good but looked a little unappealing as it had not been browned much.

For dessert we tested the key lime pie (R40) which was nice, the chocolate brownie (R50) which was amazing,  and the rocky road ice cream (R50) which was cool (haha), but expensive.

We were there under invitation so can’t really comment on the service.

In summary, it’s definitely worth a visit. The place is lovely, the food is good and it’s something different. They also have a lunch menu and a brunch menu so you don’t have to go at night. You’ll decide for yourself if you like it enough to become a regular.

Knife Restaurant
Cnr Century Boulevard & Rialto road, Century City
Tel: 021 551 5000


  1. Michelle November 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

    hi Dax
    what is Chalmar beef ?

  2. daz November 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Come on dax the reason its called knife is its association with its sister place fork, when you go to fork do you expect a really nice fork?

    Surprised you went for the steak, why didnt you try the ribs or the burgers, they are both very good.

    This is a very well run place which one expects from ed saunders the owner,the service is excellent, i complained about the portion size of the brownie and they brought me another one at no charge, where else would you get this level of service in CPT ? the only regret is that he didnt open it in town.

  3. Shakira November 10, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    As youthful trendy residents of Century City, we (my boyfriend and I) decided tonight, to make use of a booklet of vouchers that we were given on entry to our complex one evening. They were an add-on to the first volume of “Century City Living” – the lifestyle magazine for Century City residents. Very nice, quite special and most “exclusive.” So why not?

    We elected to utilize the KNIFE special – quite an awesome special at that. Two courses each for up to four people for R100 per person? A steal yes?

    So the two of us get ready and head to this very vibey, very chilled, very mod venue (bottle of wine in hand) and are seated by our waiter – Frank – very cool guy.

    We ask him about the special and he explains that we can choose either a starter and a main or a main and dessert each. WOW! This never happens, right? I mean, we have absolutely no issue paying whatever it costs for good food (seriously,) but hey, a special is a special, and we were offered this special…. so we decide to enjoy it.

    We order chilli garlic prawns and fried calamari for starters – prawns were unimpressive and undercooked in my opinion, calamari was….okay…. nothing to write to Dax about, but okay.

    For mains, he ordered Fillet Steak with cumin cream sauce – cooked to perfection I was told….and I ordered spatchcock baby chicken.

    And then we decide to order some Rocky Road ice cream to round the meal up. Heavenly.

    So then comes the bill…..
    let’s do the math really quickly:
    100 x 2 = 200
    25 corkage
    50 rocky road
    total = 275

    The bill amount we received was 290. And my boyfriend, thorough bloke as he is, queried this. The waiter goes to the manager (heavily pregnant woman, nameless since I didn’t ask) and then returns to us with some half-baked explanation about them deciding to use the dessert instead of the starter as one of our courses….
    So I (naturally) call her over.

    She explains that she “used her discretion” because “with all due respect ma’am, the restaurant needs to make money”

    Don’t ever use “with all due respect” if there is none intended! And don’t punt these wonderous specials if you elect to alter the bill at the end of the evening….

    two words – EPIC FAIL

    1 – We didn’t need to utilize their special in order to afford the meal
    2 – This is a prime example of how NOT to treat patrons
    3 – It really wasn’t that good

    So THERE knife, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    P.S. Dax….you were SO right about the knives – pitiful, to say the least.

  4. Joan November 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

    @Shakira: With all due respect, with all specials you will be charged for the more expensive item and given the cheaper one as the “special”. And to make such a scene about an extra R15 when you saved hundreds of rands by using these vouchers you were given.
    I find it hard to believe you when you say, ” we have absolutely no issue paying whatever it costs for good food”. You arrive with vouchers in hand and then also a bottle of wine. Could you please tell us what bottle of wine you took along to the restaurant? I am actually very surprised that you and your boyfriend decided to share a dessert as you knew this was not covered by the voucher.
    Lastly,did you tip your waiter on the R290 or on what the meal was supposed to have cost?

  5. Shakira November 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Joan

    Thanks for your comment.

    We tipped the waiter on the 290. He deserved it.
    The wine was very good, one of our favourites, and not on many restaurant wine lists – DMZ Concerto (google it.)
    We did not have space for a dessert each (not that our eating habits have anything to do with you)
    I did not make a scene – this was merely a query on PRINCIPLE.
    And lastly, with all due respect, this was my experience whether you “find it hard to believe” or not.


  6. Rushil November 15, 2010 at 10:58 am

    My 2 cents, use it or don’t use it.

    I am a resident of Century City and I must say I am a bit disappointed by these comments.

    Firstly I do not see anything wrong with taking a bottle of wine to a restaurant (why else do restaurants charge corkage?). From time to time I take a bottle with me, especially if I know that a restaurant does not stock the wine that I drink. Does this make me cheap?

    Secondly, I am appalled that the manager handled the situation by saying “we also need to make money…” This is certainly not the way to deal with paying customers. Sure, they may have paid for their meal on a ‘special’, but would probably have returned if the situation was dealt with correctly. Now this establishment has probably lost these customers and the people they tell about the experience….and the people who have read this blog (and have had similar experiences). See where I am going with this?

    Thirdly, isn’t the whole point of a special to attract customers to your establishment? Why then complain to your customers about making money? Shouldn’t the restaurant rather focus on the long term and try to get those very ‘special’ paying customers to return for their next meal?

    It’s all a bit silly to me. Service orientated businesses need to wake up and realize that their customers always come first no matter what.

  7. franc November 15, 2010 at 11:29 am

    The problem with people who know their way around the interweb and have the ability to create readable sites does not mean they know a rats ass about food. Thinking that you are a foodie because you eat food means nothing. Obese people should be foodies because they quite clearly love food. This restaurant is rubbish. To start I had a pimms cocktail where the cucumber still had its plastic wrap. Maybe they are grown that way. My waitress emitted the most funky smell that would give any well hung steak a run for its money. The ribs were dry and boring. Too much salt on the mcdonald fries. Overall rubbish, do not bother and maybe get the writer of this blog over for some IT advice but do not take any reliance on his food reviews. Now I will sit back and watch all his followers defend him. Yet more bloggers with the capabilities to write or sup wine but clueless.

    1. Dax November 15, 2010 at 12:23 pm

      These personal attacks are becoming a bit tiresome. Constructive criticism on restaurants is always welcome whether positive or negative.

      I never said I was a foodie, I enjoy Cape Town and write about my experiences with the knowledge and experience I have acquired. If you don’t like it, read someone else’s blog.

      If you have a problem with me, come talk to me face to face. I’m easy to spot, I’m the guy enjoying himself instead of worrying about what other people are doing.

      You’re right about the chips, Franc, they are too salty. Thanks for the feedback.

  8. Charmaine Taylor November 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I really enjoyed my dinner at Knife – loved the deco. WINE menu is excellent!

    Dax the place with THE best knife selection is Krugermans Grill in the good ol V&A Waterfront under the movies – great steaks there too. Really makes you look forward to your steak after you “select your weapon” of choice.

    Knife is a good old fashioned smoke house – food quite salty – so check before you salt – as I know us South African’s love our salt.

    I enjoyed the experience – but I am not sure I would travel from town to visit it again – but I am a capetonian so 🙂

  9. Carla November 15, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Franc and all the other disgusting people who critisice Dax personally are really annoying. Your unnecessary comments just reflect the calibre of people that you obviously are. Stay cool Dax!

  10. Ming-Cheau November 25, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for the review, I’m checking it out tonight and wanted to know what I was getting myself into. Your review was helpful 🙂

  11. Paula January 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    We went to Knife last night had a wonderful evening. The decor, service & food were excellent.
    The Peppercorn sauce was a bit salty but apart from that, everyone at our table raved about their meal.

    We can’t wait to go there again (prices pretty reasonable as well).

  12. Ruben October 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I studied Hotel and Restaurant, so I understand the components to a good restaurant.

    My opinion is that the wine menu outweighs the food menu, decor is brilliant and very affordable.I like the restaurant but you can base the restaurant on smokey ribs, that is what Spurs marketing Campaign is!How does it compare to Cattle Baron for example?

    Not bad, but also not WOW, i did expect a little more but otherwise you wont be dissapointed

  13. MJ Swanepoel March 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Worst steak ever!!!

    Visited Knife Restaurant on 8 March 2012 at Crystal Towers with business partners.

    Ordered a Rump and after 30 minutes got served an excuse for a steak. The quality was horrendous. Half was fat and the rest sinews; stringy and tough!

    I will not visit ever again, and will not recommend anyone to visit. An excuse for a restaurant.

    MJ Swanepoel

  14. Ed Saunders March 16, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Dear Mr Swanepoel,

    I hope you are well.

    I have phoned you 3 times and have left a message in order to confirm a few details.But there has been no response.

    As a passionate restaurateur, it was extremely disappointing for me to see the reviews of my restaurant left on at least two websites today after your unsatisfactory steak at Knife yesterday lunch.

    Let me immediately apologise that the quality of your steak was not up to standard, as I am a stickler for standards and work very hard to uphold them. As a business owner trying my utmost to succeed these are not matters I take lightly. Once again I am very sorry.

    It is, however, with great dismay that I was consulted by the Internet as to your disappointments at Knife. In the good old days when one was served sub-standard food the waiter was called to alert the manager/owner to a potential problem. Problem was reviewed and dealt with accordingly. It is of the utmost importance to any business to succeed, survive and improve that criticism is levied immediately, especially in the food industry where the evidence, as it were, can go cold. I cannot rationally accept that you were unable to convey your disappointment at the scene of the crime. Maybe it was because you were in a business meeting and felt it was not appropriate at the time, but I am a hands-on-owner who spends a large part of my revenue on managers for the very reason that 25 years in this business has taught me the perils of keeping standards and obeying the laws of customer satisfaction,if given the chance.

    We live in a world where anyone can be a critic – the Internet. But still, with this power accorded to the masses, have you stopped to think of the damage you do, not only to my establishment and the immediate people I support, but also all the people working here and that they support.

    I am not saying your criticism is unfounded, I am questioning the way that you dealt with it. In today’s world it is easy to sit in the privacy of ones own space and tell the world that you will never visit an establishment again and no-one else should. Have you, however, given it any thought that a restaurant is not a factory and is exposed the same daily challenges to achieve the highest standard of delivery. In short, I was not given the chance to rectify the problem.

    I therefore would, in my very small way, like to once again apologise that your steak was sub-standard, but plead with you to try and reach a civilised solution to the problem before going viral in a world that can at times both be impersonal and untrustworthy – the Internet.

    It would have been very informative to me if you had pulled either me or my manager aside,emailed or phoned and constructively criticised your experience. Instead you chose the comfortable solitude of a computer to air your grievances.

    I hope your meeting at least went well.

    Yours sincerely,

    Ed Saunders

    Knife Restaurant
    Crystal Towers
    Cnr. Century Boulevard and Rialto Road
    Century City 7441
    021-551 5000