On a Sunday meander to a nursery, we drove north on Beyers Naudé, past Honeydew, and got to the nursery of choice, only to find it was closed on Sundays.... oh well, nothing else to do except go and satisfy that gnawing feeling in the stomach area. We had driven past Casalinga, and having heard many good reports, decided to give the place a try.
We arrived slightly after 12 noon, the parking lot was pretty empty, and we felt that we were in for a treat ... the grounds and restaurant buildings are beautiful.
We walked up to the Maitre D's stand, stated that we did not have reservations, and asked for a table outside. The extremely business-like (read "curt") gentleman (read "up-his-own-butt-person") practically spat out NO before we'd finished asking, and instructed a very nicely smiling woman (can't remember the name) to take us to table 3 inside .... we forgave him his opti-rectinitus, and dutifully followed Smiling No Name to our table, which turned out to be quite adequate, with a view onto the covered back patio.
A Captain explained how the Prix Fixe Sunday Menu (R230 per head) worked, took our food and drink order (one Appletiser), and promptly disappeared. After 10 mins, a waitron (Prisca) brought our bread basket. We canceled the Appletizer (which had not materialized), & ordered 2 Steelworks. Appetizers - Seafood Soup & Chicken Livers - arrived along with the drinks. Seafood Soup was in a tomato base, with 2 Mussels, Calamari pieces, & 1 Large Shrimp (that's what stood out, at any rate) ... the seafood was tender, but the dish was on the bland side, and the tomato base a little salty. The Chicken Livers were very tender but bland - Tobasco sauce rescued the last few bites.
The entreés arrived - Lamb Shank & Fresh Kabeljou Fillet. Lamb Shank was in the same salty Tomato base (well that's how it looked and tasted) and made a wonderful snack for our dog Chahna (SA pronounciation for China). The "Fresh Line Fish - Kabeljou" looked like a frozen filet o' fish, with 6 tiny-ass frozen shrimp liberally sprinkled on the top of it! Two bites were all I needed, The Queen Of F**king Everything did not deign to taste.
Not once did anyone enquire about how we were doing, no sign of Captain Boy - obviously darting off to do more of his "Captainy Duties". Prisca (bless her) rattled off the 9 desserts - we ordered a fruit plate and a créme bruleé. The Fruit plate turned out to be 3 kinds of melons cut up and slapped onto a plate with a few slices of pineapple, drizzled with some kinda granadilla sauce. The créme bruleé was ok at best.
Casalinga calls itself "Ristorante Italiano"... we saw a bunch of dishes with Italian NAMES, and ONE pasta dish - nothing we got served looked remotely "Italian". (We have subsequently read the Menu for 2008/09, and there are a whole lot of "Italian" dishes - obviously not available on a Sunday!). The question we asked ourselves was.... for 230 bucks a head (ZAR), where was the "WOW" factor??? Wow, we can't believe it. Seems like Casalinga relies solely on its lovely setting, and has forgotten about the food ... C'mon, if I'm gonna spend 500 bucks on a meal (without any alcohol), I wanna have something that is gonna bring me back to the place, and from THIS visit, we'd be hard pressed to go back.
Service 5/10 Food 5/10 Price $$$$ Ambience 5/10 Kid Friendly YES
Gas Mark 1.5
Stay tuned for more reviews on spots in Jo'burg, Cape Town, Durban, Atlanta, Manhattan, Brooklyn, & Montezuma, Costa Rica