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Did your last dining experience suck or was it fabulous?

We eat out a lot and so far we haven't found any "Real People" reviews to tell us what's good and what's not. We pay our hard earned money for meals at restaurants and we demand good food and good service.

It is our mission to report and update our dining experiences so that you never have to endure crap food or crap service again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pepénero, Cape Town

Over the weekend, The Queen of F***in Everything, Mr. B, & I had a hungerin’ for something GOOD. It was Saturday nite in Cape Town, and Mr. B was at the helm, no matter how much he protested – the way we saw it, his city, his recommendation, his butt if we were disappointed!! Pressure was on.

After calling around (last minute as usual) we exasperatedly said “Just take us somewhere where the food’s decent and the service is good.

Right off the main road in Mouille Point, in a buzzing little enclave of restaurants, Pepénero was our destination. We were out to eat fairly early for Cape Town – 730 pm – and took our pick of the outside seating - 2 chairs and bench seating, with heaters in close proximity for the refreshingly cool evening sea breeze.
Mr. B ordered a bottle of Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinor Noir, and we started off our evening.

Lemme say right now, the service we received from John, our waiter, was excellent - hands down the best service I have EVER had in Cape Town – attentive, knowledgeable, without being overly familiar – absolutely impeccable. When we needed recommendations he was there and when he wasn’t needed he was a mere nod away.

For appetizers, we ordered Scallops, Steamed fresh mussels, & Eggplant (Aubergine). A bread server came by the table, delivering a slice of bread each, with oil & balsamic to dip – perfect size- not too big to put us off the appetizers, light, & very tasty. 15 minutes later, they arrived - perfect timing. By this time we had polished off half our bottle of wine - over fantastic conversation.

Good scallops are a rare breed and it was a sheer delight to devour these beautiful mollusks. The mussels were fresh – cooked in a classic white wine, garlic, and parsley sauce – perfectly tender, no grit in any bite, and delicious. Mr. B gobbled down his aubergines, so we’ll safely assume they rocked…Thanx B (your Mom will be proud of you).

We rapidly moved on to mains - Queen of F***in Everything, needed sleep urgently… it wasn’t our bad company. John took our order of Tagliata (fillet, grilled and sliced, topped with olive oil and rosemary) & pan-seared, roasted duck topped with a leek reduction. The Tagliata ROCKED, the duck was a tad bit overcooked. OK, so maybe that’s why I had a crown on my tooth replaced earlier this week.

It’s always an indication that a restaurant is very sure of itself, its service, & its kitchen staff when, if a meal is not up to scratch, it’s removed without a huge song-and-dance. Without hesitation, the duck was whisked away – kinda like the South Easter knocks you off your feet on the Foreshore. We asked for a recommendation from John – he suggested the Stuffed Chicken Supreme with goats cheese, spinach and garlic ….. O mi GAWD was it fabulous. I swear I am gonna call my next child John.

I’m not sure whether it was the ocean breeze (who knew that seaweed could smell so hectic), the excellent service, or the fabulous company, but we had to get another bottle of wine - the Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc. It was at this point The Queen alerted us that the restaurant was starting to fill up and that Mr.B and I should try and lower our voices.

It was time to bring the eating part of the night to an end (read Party Time) and there’s no other way to end off a good meal than with dessert. OMIGOSH!!!! The Crème Brulèe was BANGIN’ – not too sweet, silky smooth, and exactly right flavor – really, it kicked butt. I normally check out a place’s Crème Brulée when I see it, and, man this was SO worth it

I unselfishly whipped out my credit card for a “kaching” – the check for 3, with 2 bottles of wine AND dessert was R 1000, $ 125, € 82 and £63. Our Dear John was handsomely rewarded for our nights pleasure.

The evening was absolutely outstanding. Our only wish before venturing out to dinner was decent food and good service and the Pepènero experience far exceeded our expectations.

FOOD 7/10 SERVICE 8/10    AMBIENCE 8/10 PRICE $$$


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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saviero & Bottega, 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, Jo'burg

If ya happen to find yourself in the Parkhurst area of Jo’burg (S Africa), and you feel that Cavernous Entity (your Stomach) reminding you that it’s been hours since you added any sustenance to your system, then park your car on 4th Avenue, and get your butt into Bottega – that’s the always-busy-place-across-from-Georges-on-4th – used to be the old Europa Café.

This is one of those smaller restaurants that one can ALWAYS count on great food and good service.  The main reason for this wonderful bit of Culinary News, is the owner of the establishment, Sav.  He's passionate about his food, the service, his customers, and it translates into his place always being busy.
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, the food is great.  The service is usually very attentive - some of the waitstaff have been there for 8 years.

This past week, I had the pleasure of dining at Bottega twice - both times for lunch. I had the Chicken Livers on one occasion - Y-U-M !!  Cooked to perfection in a Red & Green Pepper, and Onion Salsa, with a hint of Chilli, they are superb.  I also had Chicken Kebabs on Mashed Potato the following time I was there.  I have to say those were probably the best Chicken Skewers I have ever eaten - really!!  Tender and juicy pieces of Chicken with a basting of a great Sweet Chiili sauce, served on top of a slammin' Homemade Mashed Potato.  You may well ask, "well how do ya mess up a Chicken Skewer?"  Well, the amount of times I've had dry pieces of chicken that had to be disguised with tons of sauce .....

The reason I think the food is always so good, is because Sav keeps things simple - not dumb - simple.  His recipes show his passion for good food, without trying to be "Too Cheffy"!! The menu has a great Urban Bistro style, without having to pretend it's anything else but great food.

SERVICE 6/10   FOOD 8/10   PRICE $$ - $$$   AMBIENCE 7/10   KID FRIENDLY  Yes

Gasmark 4

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Casalinga, Muldersdrift, Gauteng

OK fellow food and service lovers, here's one for the record!!!

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

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This is what we're about!

Did your last dining experience suck or was it fabulous? 

We eat out a lot  and so far we haven't found any "Real People" reviews to tell us what's good and what's not.  We pay our hard earned money for meals at restaurants and we demand good food and good service.  

It is our mission to report and update our dining experiences so that you never have to endure crap food or crap service again.