Octopus’ Garden (take 2)

Chance had us at the same restaurant exactly a week later. The chef was back and fully recovered from his car accident, and they had most items on the menu. I choose the line fish, a piece of fresh cape salmon, served with a Thai curry sauce. It was outstanding (you’ll have to ask for the curry sauce – they don’t usually serve it with the fish). Lois had an aubergine bake, which was almost like a vege lasagna, also very good.

Once again, service was slow, but we were not in a rush. I would not go there if I was going for a quick bite to eat on the way to a movie.

No Beatles music this time :-(. Both times we have been there was on a Sunday evening, and both times they were fairly full. The clientele seem to be a quite a mixture of people, which is probably a reflection of the ambiance and price.

In the last review, I said that I would be back, and I was, and I will be again.

written by Craig

Octopus’ Garden

Octopus’ Garden is in the St James station building, in what I believe is the old post office. It has a very airy and light, lovely, laid-back atmosphere. The décor is a tasteful mixture of modern paintings and bohemian murals.

The menu is an eclectic blend of local and Italian (one of the co-owners is Italian). Dishes include game carpaccio, steak, fresh tuna, line fish and pasta dishes (it is not a large menu, but it should have something to suit everybody). Lois wanted the spinach ravioli with tomato and pepper sauce. However since she does not eat spinach, it was no problem for the restaurant to substitute the ravioli with tagliatelli. I had a spinach cannelloni which was really fantastic. I would have preferred a little chilli in it, but they assured that next time if I ask when I place my order they will add some chilli for me.

If you bring white wine, instead of giving you an ice bucket, they put your wine into the fridge and periodically come past your table to top up the wine. I cannot comment on the wine list (since I didn’t order the wine), however their house wine is an Italian house wine, which was very nice and fruity.

On the night we went, they were a bit slow bringing the food, and they were out of stock of some of the items (they had no line fish or lasagna). However they did apologise and assure me that this is because the chef had hurt his sholder in a car accident that afternoon and was not at work (I am assured he is doing well and will be back at work this week).

Because of the name, many of the songs played at the restaurant are Beatles songs, which suited me fine. I certainly got the impression that many of the tables were regulars, which is always a good thing. The staff was all very friendly, and both owners swung past the tables to apologise about the delay, and to check that all is fine, and I really got the impression that they were genuinely interested and not just asking because it was expected.

Leila the guide dog was welcome and presented with a bowl of water.

I will definitely be back.

written by Craig

Got my car back!

The agents spent about two days trouble-shooting the electrical fault in my car, and have finally got it working. It turns out that the relay on the glow plug was faulty, and was not switching off the glow plug when the car was parked. Hence the battery was being drained really fast.

It took them two days to find and fix the problem, although I did suggest that the glow plug was checked first. At least they had the decency to only charge me for two hours labour and not two days!

Written by Craig

Baltazar

The food is a mixture of traditional German and European food. The owner and Chef, Peter Hoffmann, describes the food as "Rustic German, Continental & Eastern European cuisine".

I started with a side salad, which was fresh, green and appetizing. It was not the often presented huge lettuce leaves and tomato chunks. Rather, the lettuce leaves were in bite-sized pieces, and the veges were thinly cut, creating a far more appetizing appearance. Plenty of fresh sprouts and coriander garnished the salad. It was a really tasty starter.

My Eisbein was well prepared, tender on the inside and nice and crisp on the outside. It was served with traditional spicy sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. A selection of mustards is available.

Other main courses included veal schnitchel, line fish and a lamb stew. Although there has always been at least one vegetarian dish in the past, I didn’t see any (aside from starters) today.

The waiter was very friendly, and Peter is always around to have a chat. The wine list, although small, will have wines to suit most pallets and pockets.

We have also taken Lois’ guide dog to the restaurant a couple of times before, and she has always been welcome.

To summarise, I would recommend Baltazar for a good, hearty meal. However don’t expect the vegetarians to be particularity happy with the selection. I would like to add that if you speak to Peter, he will be more than happy to make a vegetarian dish for you.

Ps: If you ever have a few minutes, sit and watch Peter in the kitchen. It is the most perfect example of extremely organised chaos I have ever seen. Peter runs around that kitchen with many dishes on the go, and he is in full control over all of them.

Baltazar, Muizenberg, Tel 021-7884912

written by Craig

Schrodenger’s Restaurant

Isn’t it interesting that as soon as you find a quiet, out of the way restaurant, everybody starts going there. You know what I mean, the sort of place that is reasonably priced, serves really fine food, and has a fine ambience. Then everybody hears about this place, and before you know it you have to book weeks in advance. And then when you finally manage to visit the restaurant, it’s full, noisy and impersonal. Everything that you liked about it has gone. Why are all of these people visiting YOUR spot?

What is interesting is that the very act of you visiting the restaurant changes the ambience in a very subtle way. Similarly, the act of all of you visiting the restaurant changed it in a larger way. Many people doing this creates a critical mass, and that is when the small, subtle changes become far more pronounced.

Hence, the best way to not change the restaurant is to not visit it at all, which is pretty self-defeating. What’s also interesting is that everybody else is feeling exactly the same about THEIR spot.

What can you do about it? Not much really. You can continue to visit your favorite spots, and hope that the critical mass takes its time to accumulate, or that (hopefully) it does not accumulate at all, and the restaurant continues to satisfy the trickle of people passing through.

written by Craig

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