Tag Archives: steak

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

Blonde

11 Aug

I love a bit of sophistication. I’m one of those girls who is as comfortable twirling a champagne flute as I am chugging a draft. Thank goodness Blonde satisfies my more refined side. My closest girlfriends and I have a dinner club. This year we changed from hosting each other in our homes to searching for the best deals in restaurants around town.

Blonde is spectacular. The ambience is relaxed, but has those lovely details like beautifully upholstered chairs and gorgeous thin-lipped wine glasses. Our waiter too made the evening, using words like, “soliloquy” when describing his specials speech. I’m a sucker for anyone who drops words like that into casual conversation.

 The food was delicious. I had a beautiful fillet infused with truffle oil, served with perfectly crispy risotto and parmesan balls. Wow, delish. The girls around me were equally delighted with their choices and a rare silence drifted over our table. Remember this is a group of 8 girls who have known each other for years, so silence is not easily accomplished!

 My pudding was a simple peach cobbler with vanilla mascarpone. The cinnamon flavours and the soft baked peach swirled in my mouth and it disappeared rather too quickly for my liking. With a sweet tooth like mine, though, this always seems to happen! I also sneaked a few tastes of Georgina’s chocolate fondant – heaven on a plate! I might have had food envy if the cobbler wasn’t so good. 

 Blonde does something special with their service– before the meal everyone receives an amuse-bouche (I love that word! It’s something to whet your appetite, or an amusement for your mouth, in French). It is a tiny ceramic shot glass of buttery butternut soup. If you order starter, then you also get a palate cleansing sorbet before your main course. And with the bill real chocolate truffles follow (this sure beats old Butterscotch sweeties in yucky plastic wrappers).

 But what about the deal you may ask? Well, the deal is that everything on the menu (yes, that includes the vino!) is 50% less for July and August. Unfortunately, this sounds rather less expensive than it works out to be, considering the full price for my steak would have been R190! I certainly would never pay that for a meal, but maybe other people aren’t English teachers without a second income off which to live!

 It may be expensive, but I think a special night, whether it’s with your partner or an old group of friends, can warrant a little extravagance. But, best head there this month so that you still have money left for your draft chugging on the weekend!

 Blonde: Corner Hatfield and Wandel Road, Gardens, 021 462 5793, Starters: R45+ Mains: R119-189 Dessert: R50-60

Van Hunks

6 Aug

Van Hunks is a cosy restaurant that immediately puts its guests at ease, with delicious food and excellent service.

I am embarrassed to admit that I only discovered this gem when friends arrived from Jo’burg who had heard of it. I hung my head in shame for all of 5 seconds and realised that it would make the perfect start to “Review Bar”.

Van Hunks is settled in a house in Tamboerskloof and it has managed to maintain the home-like atmosphere, by keeping many of the interior walls and the central fireplace. It was a wonderful place to eat on a cold Cape Town night. Luckily, as I avoid the trendy like a snotty child, the crowd was relaxed. Our waiter was super helpful, going so far as to help us cut open a suitcase (long story!) and he always had a smile, which definitely encouraged more wine drinking! Unfortunately the staff needs to hone their fire making skills for the winter months as at times it became a little smoky, but we were at Van Hunks after all! (Find out the tale of Van Hunks below if you don’t know it.)

The menu was small, but had delicious choices, including good old steak, chips and veggies (and the steak was done to rare perfection I might add), homestyle oxtail ragout and, for my vegetarian friend, mushroom and artichoke ravioli. Every dish was scrumptious and the portions were well sized. I’m definitely part of the empty plate club but there is nothing worse than eating too much of a yummy meal and feeling way too full. I felt satisfied, and by no means hard done by, especially considering the price.

To go with our meal we chose from their large wine list. We had the Waterford Pecan Stream Sauvignon Blanc which somehow managed to disappear extremely quickly! I’m not going to pretend to be anything of a wine fundi, that would be cheating, so I can merely say – Nyummy!

Van Hunks. Corner Upper Union and Kloof Street, Tamboerskloof; 021 422 5422; Mains: R60-R95 Desserts: from R40; Service: Great

The real Van Hunks story

A long time ago (as rumour has it) Van Hunks was a captain in the navy and lived on the slopes of Table Mountain. His favourite pastime was strolling up the mountain, sitting on a rock and smoking his pipe.

One day Van Hunks was upset to find a stranger, dressed all in black and wearing a peculiar hat, sitting on his rock. The stranger greeted Van Hunks by name, so he soon forgot his displeasure and sat next to the stranger, bragging about his tobacco and smoking ability. The stranger claimed that he could smoke more than Van Hunks. The old sea codger decided this was a challenge worth accepting and the smoking began.

They smoked and smoked and smoked. People in Cape Town were worried when they saw a billowing cloud begin to cover Table Mountain. And still the men smoked and smoked. Eventually, both men began to feel ill (understandably so!) and, about to topple over, the stranger’s hat fell off revealing his horns and his true identity. It was the devil! Van Hunks realised he had beaten the devil himself and no doubt started bragging immediately. The devil, being the bad loser that he is, disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Now, when the cloud comes down and covers Table Mountain, it is said that Van Hunks and the devil are smoking again.