The Green Dolphin review

The Green Dolphin in the Waterfront as been around for ages. It’s one of the few places (Pigalle is another one) that offers live jazz every night of the week (especially now that Manenberg’s has closed down, thankfully). However, I have never held the Green Dolphin in high regard. I have been there a few times to have a drink and listen to the music, but I have never eaten there. The reason is because when I looked at the menu, it was very expensive and I have heard from several people that the food is very average. That combination put me off spending a large chunk of my hard earned money on what could turn out to be a less than stellar experience.

However, the other night I ate at the Green Dolphin as part of a group. It had been selected as the dinner venue for the conference I was attending at the Radisson (very average conferencing facilities at the price).  I was a bit anxious about the dinner, not wanting 70 foreigners to leave Cape Town thinking it was a very average place.

My fears were well founded. As is to be expected, it was a set menu. But a choice of 1 starter, 2 mains and 1 dessert is a dismal selection indeed. I organised a dinner for 250 people at Krugmann’s Grill a while back and even for a party that size they could offer 3 starters, 4 mains and 3 desserts to choose from. So I don’t see how a party of 70 in a 260 seat restaurant can necessitate such a meagre selection.

The starter was a citrus salad and it was probably one of the worst salads I have been served (I have made worse myself, but I was experimenting so they don’t count). It was also very small. I tried to make it more interesting (and filling) by having one of the complimentary rolls with it, but the roll was stale and boring.

I had the fish main, Cape Salmon which wasn’t too bad but I didn’t like the look of the lamb chops which looked a bit charred on the outside but still very pink on the inside. Nobody was blown away by their food. The dessert was a very dry malva tart with a small amount of custard.

While I was there I had a look at the menu, it’s still very expensive. After my exposure to the food, I don’t think that it’s anywhere near worth it. In case you’re wondering, the jazz doesn’t come free. There is a R35 charge per head on the bill for the entertainment. I think that the Green Dolphin is mainly supported by tourists and family and friends of the band members, which is the way it will stay unless the offering improves.

The Green Dolphin
Shop 2A, Alfred Mall, V&A Waterfront
Tel: 021 421 7471


  1. JP Rossouw April 17, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    The other day I overheard the owner of Belthazar talking about the new place in the waterfront that’s replaced Morton’s. He was expressing his doubts that this new place, 221, would go the distance as it had no “thing” – or theme. Green Dolphin is strong on theme in a precinct where getting good food is far down the rung to a place having a distinct personality, and your recent experience suggests nothing changes here.

  2. Dax April 18, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Hi JP

    You’re right, the Green Dolphin has been around for a long time, but certainly not thanks to local support. I agree that 221 offers nothing special and that combined with it’s location could spell trouble.

    As for Balthazar, that’s another story. I have heard it described in only 3 ways: ‘Average’, ‘overated’ and ‘I had to send my steak back’ (sometimes more than once). This echoes my experiences on the 3 occasions I have eaten there.

    Which goes to show, it’s amazing what location and some marketing can achieve. Balducci’s on the other hand, while it is expensive, has never disappointed.

  3. s May 21, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Really good live jazz every wednesday from 9pm at Carnival Court(on top of Kennedy’s) in Long Street.

  4. Hila October 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Urgh Green Dolphin has to be the WORST restaurant experience I have had in a long time.

    We were there as my other half is a tourist guide, he was chaparoning and I was invited to join. We sat at a table with 2 very intelligent men from Poland and the rest of the party (all ukranians) shared their own table. I think the Polish guys were being polite because I was there and I was being polite because they were there.

    I dont remember if we ordered starters but I remember the main course and desserts vividly as well as the service and the managers disgusting attitude.

    On paper my dish sounded fantastic. Kudu steak with a peach jous, baby new potatoes and roasted veg. What I got was a chunk of kudu, with a salt jous, a tinned peach slice, baby potatoes that had been boiled (not even in salted water) with their skin on and dumped on my plate, soggy frozen mixed veg that seemed like they were just warmed through COVERED in black pepper and just incase there wasnt enough some MORE salt. The Polish guys took the ostrich fillet which was also over salted and J took the Dorado and even THAT was salty, and its difficult to make fish salty.

    To add insult to injury, after politely eating out meal and drinking loads of water and some wine(lets not get into the wine list fiasco) we informed the manager that he should talk to his chef as the food was over-salted and he replied “its a matter of taste and not everyones taste buds are the same” and walked away. The waitress serving the other table kept fiddling with her underwaer while taking orders and out waitresses shirt looked like it had been tubledried for too long.

    We decided to risk dessert and we lost that bet. The polish guys chose the chocolate tarte which was hard as a rock and I went for the baked cheesecake. Now if I went to some tannie’s house and she gave me a cheese cake with a tennis biscuit crust I would be more then happy but since I paid over R25 for a tiny slice of cheesecake I expect nothing less then shortcrust pastry. I ahve made it, its not difficult and that for me was the last straw.

    Not to mention that its the first time I have ever been to a restaurant where the food comes to more then the drinks when no one has been shy with the wine and beer.

  5. angela watchurst August 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    So very sad to hear what a waste of time and disaster the restuarant that i worked so hard and long at-and loved has gone so …. sad

  6. MaryM March 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Glad I checked your review.. I need to take a guest out to listen to some jazz on Saturday : ( Not an easy task. Is there anywhere nice we could go instead?