Tag Archives: restaurant

San Julian

2 Mar

A Mexican family moves to South Africa and opens a restaurant named after their home town. They grind their own corn to make fresh tortillas and use Abuelo’s (grandfather’s) margerita mix recipe. Sounds perfectly idyllic, doesn’t it? Unfortunately most things at San Julian are not (except the margeritas).

My first qualm about San Julian is the menu – not that it’s diffcult to understand (most things are lost in translation), but that everything seems so… the same! Each dish is made with tortillas, whether they are quesadillas, tacos or flautas. No where was there menudo (Spanish soup), tamales or chile. At a table of four girls, there were only two dishes chosen and sadly, I was the definite loser! My Flautas en Salsa Verde was presented to me and I sighed. 3 cigar-sized tubes made of, you guessed it, tortilla, stuffed with non-descript chicked and served with a tiny mound of Spanish rice. The Spanish rice was superb, but my quarter cup portion barely touched sides. The cigars also disappeared very quickly, leaving my tummy rumbling, but at the price, unable to order anything more.

No one said anything, but the other dish chosen by my dining partners did not look particularly apetizing either. Diced meat on dry tortilla discs certainly doesn’t appeal to me.

The service is charming and the music delightful, but the best part of the evening must have been the margeritas. Salty-sweet goodness doesn’t come better than at San Julian. My advice: go for drinks, don’t have too many (your bank balance will cry), soak up the atmoshere, but eat before you go.

San Julian, Green Point, 3-4 State House, Rose Street, 021 419 4233, Mains +-R70 (half portions available), Margeritas: R40, Service: friendly and accommodating.

Pepénero

11 Feb

Having recently started a new job, I find myself missing my old colleagues and friends.A catch-up was in order and, all being Atlantic Seaboard locals, Pepénero was the perfect place to meet.

The evening did not start well as our booking was “lost”. A mystery to the manager, but he quickly found us a table outside after waiting only five minutes. We settled down and were quickly made comfortable by a wonderful waiter. He was quiet, unassuming and catered to our needs without becoming visibly irritated with our indecisiveness (something I wouldn’t have been able to do).

Our original plan was to eat sushi, having heard of the brilliant quality and Pepénero’s special. We were somewhat disappointed as the special isn’t that great – only maki, nigiri and California rolls are half-price and the rest of the a la carte sushi is pretty expensive to eat your fill. Most of us explored the rest of the menu and discovered some excellent dishes. All mains come with a choice of chips, rice, vegetables or salad, so anyone can find something to suit them no matter how health conscious.

I went with the Chicken Limone and was presented with three large pieces of chicken, grilled with lemon and parsley butter and pepper – superb. The steak special was also delicious – a juicy sirloin done simply but to perfection. One of our party chose the glazed butternut pasta – she wasn’t enamoured, but it was tasty enough (I helped myself to a few forkfuls!). The cinnamon glaze of the butternut was an interesting flavour in pasta, but nothing else in the cream sauce could compete with it.

At dessert time we were all hard-pressed to make a decision. I eventually shared the White Lindt Vanilla Cheesecake with a friend, while taking scoops of Crème Brûlée from my unsuspecting neighbour. Both were heaven! The cheesecake was covered with white chocolate shavings and its consistency was smooth and creamy. The crème brûlée was not too sweet and I wish I had been the one to crack its crunchy top.

Pepénero is a great place to go for a meal  in a gorgeous seafront setting but don’t expect too much privacy as it is often full and the tables are very close together. When we caught up on all the gossip we had to remember to keep our voices down – you never know whose mother is at the next-door table!

Pepénero,  Mouille Point –1 Two Oceans Beach, Bay Road, 021 439 9027 or 021 439 9037, info@pepenero.co.za, Starters R45+, Mains R70+ (sirloin special R79), Sushi R45+ (not including special), Desserts R45+Service: excellent

Lazari – Cape Quarter

28 Jan

Gardens used to hold a very special place in my heart – not least because I lived in the towering block of the Gardens Centre, but also because it is the home of Lazari (think pink cupcakes and absolutely delicious breakfasts entailing french toast made out of croissants!) Now that I have moved, I find myself not popping into my old spot as often. How pleased I was to find that Lazari has opened a second restaurant in Green Point’s Cape Quarter. This new location is also open in the evenings and so the three Sarahs (yes, there are three of us and I could have invited at least two more!) took advantage of another beautiful Cape Town evening and opportunity for a good meal.

The new Lazari has kept the same fresh feeling of the original, with white decor and whorls of dots on the walls. As with the original, though, the menu has stayed better geared toward lunch and breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, all of us were able to find something yummy for supper, but the entire feeling of the menu is “light daytime”. The choices range from pasta to burgers and salads, with only one steak dish. The healthy Sarahs both opted for a special, goat’s cheese and date phyllo parcels on an apple salad. Strangely, the chef seemed to have forgotten the apple! The salad did however, include lots of avo and the parcels were melt-in-the-mouth tasty. I chose my regular safe bet of a chicken burger. I was presented with toasted ciabatta, filled with pieces of chicken breast with caramelised onions and mustard on the side. Not quite what I would define as a burger – but it was delicious. The chicken was tender and the onions stayed on the right side of sweet. Oh, and the chips were pretty good.

We paired out meal with a bottle of D’Aria Music Sauvignon Blanc. I’m no expert, but is was very drinkable and the price of only R85 suited my pocket. All in all, while the evening was pleasant and the service fairly efficient, I don’t think I will be going back to Lazari at night – the restaurant didn’t afford much of an atmosphere and I like to have a large variety of choices for dinner. Bring it on for breakfast, lunch and the amazing pink cupcakes, but I will save my night time jaunts for other places in Cape Town. Possibly Lazari should have stuck with the original concept in more ways than simply design and cupcakes?

Lazari, Cape Quarter – Cnr Upper Maynard & Vredehoek Ave,  021 461 9865, Breakfast R28+, Lunch and dinner R50 +, Monday-Tuesday 7.30-17.00, Wednesday-Saturday 8.00-22.00

El Burro

19 Jan

When most South Africans think Mexican food, visions of greasy, cheesy nachos and oil dripping chilli poppers come to mind. Thank goodness, this no longer need be the case with El Burro in town.

A quiet, windless Cape Town evening (impossible, I know!) gave rise to my house mate and I feeling the need to have one last gorgeous week night dinner out before the real work of the year began. I had heard good things about El Burro and seeing as it is only a R14 cab ride from our house, we headed out.

We were lucky enough to get a teeny tiny table to for two on the balcony (so book before if this is where you want to sit!). We really felt like we were at a little Mexican cantina, sitting on a precarious mini-table on the side of the road, but our friendly waitress and beautiful view made up for having to squeeze our food onto the table. The view of the Green Point Stadium and the newly “greened” area around it made for a particularly good Cape Town feel. The decor of El Burro is classic Mexican bits and bobs, without looking kitsch or too trendy. My favourite touch is a “wall” of hanging baskets, wooden hearts and fairy lights that encloses one side of the balcony. So pretty!

The menu which lay before me sparkled with Spanish words which I had to ask the waitress about – she was clearly new and said they were “just fancy words”! The menu has no plain cheese nachos – a sign that this is the real deal (like Italian restaurants that don’t serve pizza!). Enchiladas, soft tacos, salads all with a choice of meat fillings, or fish, or grilled vegetables, made choosing a meal exceptionally difficult. I finally decided on a chicken enchilada and my house mate, staying with chicken (though there are so many options), settled on a chicken soft taco.

The food was quick to arrive and delicious – everything I could have wanted. My enchilada had two tortillas stuffed with chicken, drenched in a tomato/chilli sauce and lots of sour cream – my real weakness! I could only eat one, but what an excellent next day lunch the second one made. And this is what struck me about El Burro – the quality and quantity of food comes at a very decent price. My house mate’s soft tacos were also a hit. A soft taco is what most people call a wrap – all the ingredients come on the side and you are given two tortillas to fill to your heart’s desire. Not enough sauce on your taco or enchilada? El Burro gives each table six little bowls of magic to add a little personal flair to your meal – salsa, chilli, donkey’s revenge (really, really hot chilli!) and sour cream, just to name a few.

All in all my meal was superb and I will definitely be visiting El Burro again. We might have decided another glass of wine was in order to really celebrate the beautiful Cape Town night which lead us to the Slug and Lettuce down the road, but that is another story entirely!

El Burro, 81 Main Road Green Point, 021 433 2364, Mains: R60-R90, Service: friendly, quirky, efficient. Open Monday to Saturday 12:00- 23:30

On Broadway Restaurant

24 Dec

Before going out to a show, nothing beats a good glass of wine and fine meal. If you feel the same way as I do, do not go to the On Broadway restaurant. Do not.

We were heading for a sophisticated evening at the On Broadway Theatre (which was lovely and has no bearing on the restaurant!) when we made our terrible mistake. Instead of entering one of the many eateries along Long Street, we settled on the restaurant below the theatre, the On Broadway Restaurant. The waiter was a friendly, eccentric type, typical of what you might expect at a theatre restaurant.

That is where the pleasantries ended. I opted for a glass of house dry white wine. The only wine available by the glass is from the Bergsig estate. It tasted somewhere along the spectrum between petrol and sweet sherry (if you can possibly imagine those anywhere near each other!). One of my companions made the same mistake, but then asked for red instead. Not being a red wine drinker, I can’t comment on the flavour, but her face on first sip said it all.

Next was our food. D went for the burger, which was apparently a delicious standard burger. The rest of us weren’t so fortunate. I love to eat pasta out – many say you can just make it at home, but I never make anything beyond bolognaise. Creamy chicken, mushroom and basil pesto sauce sounded tasty. The waiter then persuaded me to have the sauce on tagliatelle because they made it at the restaurant themselves. This has taught me that home made is not always well made! Mushy, over-cooked and all stuck together noodles were what I got.

Needless to say, we didn’t stay for dessert. If you must go, better opt for a burger!

On Broadway Restaurant. 44 Long Street, Cape Town, 021 424 1194. Mains: R30-R129 Desserts: R35 Service: friendly and efficient.

Voila

29 Aug

Up early for the second saturday in a row! I could barely believe it myself, but this was also for a special occasion – a catch up with a friend. We both love food and a little bit of decadence, so we decided on Viola in the new section of the Cape Quarter in Green Point. What a great choice!

If you love tea, Voila is the place to head. The owner is a tea fanatic and stocks interesting teas from all over the world. The breakfast menu is complete with tea suggestions (just like wine pairings a some schmancy restaurants) and each tea comes in a particular pot – delightful. I myself am not a tea fan – excuse the anti-climax – so I opted for a smooth and creamy cappucino.

Breakfast is a very important meal to me. In fact, it is also probably my favourite meal and Voila did not disappoint. Wendy had a stunning omelette with mushrooms, bacon and the works. For the cholesterol, or just plain health conscious the option of an egg whites only omelette is available. In trendy Green Point, choices like this are uber important. My breakfast went right to the other end of the spectrum. Named Wild Strawberries, I was presented with three fat flapjacks surrounded by grilled strawberries and bananas, drowned in syrup and topped off with Greek yoghurt. Oh. My. Gosh. The bananas and strawberries were gooey and sweet – perfect with the slightly sour taste of Greek yoghurt (for even more decadence you can have mascapone cheese instead of yoghurt).

Voila also makes their own fresh juices which you can mix and match. I had pineapple and apple to accompany my breakfast. The sweetness of the raw juice, with all the goodness of the foam that comes with it made me feel like I’d had the ultimate power breakfast to get me ready for my day ahead. Unfortunately I must say that the price of the juice is a bit steep. R28 for a glass of juice, even if freshly squeezed, is pretty ludicrous. The other prices were reasonable, making the juice price even more surprising and annoying.

The atmosphere at Voila is very relaxed. The decor is quirky, but really appealing and the setting of the new Cape Quarter is stunning. The waitresses were friendly, and left us to catch up on conversation, rather than interupting every five minutes to check on us (I hate over-attentive waiters!). The restaurant also opens up on to the European-style square of the Cape Quarter, which makes it the perfect breakfast spot for the coming summer.

Voila is not only a breakfast spot – they are open for lunch and early evenings too. Their description for their menu us French contemporary which sounds right up my street. I have not yet had the pleasure of trying the rest of their menu, but the atmosphere and breakfast make me sure I will be having a beautiful summer lunch there soon (without fresh juice!).

Voila: Shop 42,Cape Quarter, 27 Somerset Rd, Green Point, 021 421 1237. Breakfast: R40+ Coffee: R15+ Service: Friendly and satisfactory. Open Monday to Saturday 8am-6.30pm and Sunday 8am -3.30pm

River Café, Constantia Uitsig

23 Aug

9 am on Saturday. Not the time at which you’d normally find me out of bed and ready for breakfast, but friends’ birthdays are special and require extra effort. So it was off to the River Café. It was worth getting up early for the healthy breakfast and champagne (sorry, sparkling wine!).

Krone Borealis Brut was flowing with the fresh orange juice (I think myself quite the orange juice connoisseur, so it was definitely super fresh and delicious). The waiters were really attentive and kept our glasses topped up. Their smiles were constant, but unfortunately the lights were flickering. Sure enough, the electricity cut out, but luckily the River Café has a generator and the manager himself came to apologise to the table for the slight delay with our food.

The food was fabulous! My healthy breakfast was a massive plate of strawberries, grapefruit, kiwi, winter melon, pineapple, banana, apple, yoghurt panna cotta and muesli. I felt like I’d had my five servings of fruit for the day – stunning! The yoghurt panna cotta was smooth and delicious, contrasted to the crunchy muesli.

I must admit that while I was trying to be healthy, I was drooling over the fried up breakfasts around me – potato rösti, eggs and hollandaise sauce or eggs, sausages, mushrooms and all the fried-up goodness of traditional breakfasts. I missed the toast slathered in butter the most, so just had to sneak a piece!

The River Café has a beautiful setting, yummy food and friendly staff. The only thing I would improve is the coffee. It was a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday. Happy birthday, George!

If you get to the River Café before the 29th August, you can also enjoy their Winter Special of a three course meal and a carafe of wine for only R195. If it’s as good as the breakfast, I’m sure it’ll be well worth it.

The River Café: Constantia Uitsig, Spaanschemat Road, Constantia, 021 794 3010  Breakfasts: R40+ Service: Excellent and friendly. Open 7 days a week, but for dinner only Saturday to Wednesday.