There are both advantages and disadvantages to living in a tourist destination. Luckily the influx of tourists in Cape Town are seasonal and not year round, but we locals definitely see a change once the visitors start arriving.
One of the biggest impacts is to restaurants, due to being so busy the service takes a knock. Many venues have to bring in extra staff to assist over these periods and the staff do not always get the benefit of proper training.
As our season is just now starting, we locals have forgotten what it is like but I got a bit of a taste of that last weekend.
On Sunday we went to a venue we have visited many times previously, Bistro 1682 at Steenberg Vineyards. It is always busy there and we struggled to get a booking, even more than a few weeks in advance. The service is often a bit slow when they are busy but Sunday was the worst experience I have had in a restaurant in quite a long time. No one thing was remarkable, but strung together it was a cacophony of chaotic clusterfuckedness.
Norm and I were the first of our party of 9 people to arrive. We ordered a bottle of water for the table and I chose one of their own bottles of Sauvignon Blanc at R110 per bottle. Unfortunately I cannot find anywhere to download their wine menu, only a PDF blurb on the various bottles they ‘offer’. On Sunday they did not offer a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for less than R175 per bottle! That is a big difference per bottle when you are such a large group and the potential is there to drink quite a few bottles, that can bump the bill up an extra grand. I was highly annoyed with the ‘take it or leave it I could give a damn either way attitude’ from the waiter. Needless to say we had to accept the expensive wine or else spend the day drinking a wine I don’t like. How does a wine farm run out of bloody wine I ask??
So the rest of the group arrived and we all decided what we wanted to order and put in our food order. The food took a very long time, we eventually had to ask what was the problem when we had been there for an hour and a half and no food yet. We kept busy talking nonsense, taking selfies and acting silly.
I do not think that the parsley oil added one iota of anything to the overall dish and I think it is rather unnecessary, but that is just my personal opinion.
Tony had the mussels to start as did Elmari and they both said they were lovely, the mussels were fat and plump and looked very fresh.
Fresh Black Mussels starter portion at R65 or the main portion at R120, described as Onion, garlic, Steenberg sauvignon blanc, cream, chives. (Maybe that is where all the affordable wine went?)
Some of the other starters were the Beef Tataki: seared beef, chilli, ginger, lime, coriander which was from the Tapas menu and cost R55.
There was also a salad dish…..with an egg. I am guessing it might have been this:
House Salad starter portion at R42 which consists of Baby cos, day lilies, nasturtium, sugar snaps,
tomatoes, quail eggs & radish, but I am not sure and I can’t remember who ate it! (I have flu so am mentally challenged today).
For mains we had a variety of dishes. Mrs S had the steak sandwich which she said was OK but the chips were overcooked and she did not eat them. Norm and a few others ordered the line fish which Norm said was delicious.
I had a hard time choosing between the pork roast and the Beef bourguignon, but the deciding factor was the rosemary in the potatoes which came with the pork. I detest rosemary so opted for the beef. I did notice that there was no mention of a starch, but just assumed something would come with it, especially as the waiter did not stress that chips or sides would have to be ordered separately. It was only when I was presented with this plate that I got a bit worried:
ok then….and then they delivered this wee pot of beef.
I then added it to the bacon and voila!
I also noted that Norm’s soup starter came as a bowl of bacon and a separate little jug of soup. I felt like I was back fake baking in the Easy Bake Kitchen of my childhood. Why make me prep my own food before I eat it? Did the assistant chef phone in sick? Is that who drank all that bloody wine? One of the things I enjoy about La Mouette or Cheyne’s is that the arrival of the food usually heralds a series of ooohs and aaahs from the beauty and creativity of the presentation of the food. These deliveries just received looks of confusion – I mean when one gets a plate of bacon bits when one has ordered soup?
I found it all rather pretentious and annoying. But I am menopausal and find life annoying in general, so don’t mind me.
The beef was full of flavour and very tender, the sauce was just divine and begged for a big plate of starchy goodness to soak it up. So when I realised my food was just a bowl of beef (tasty and yummy beef but a bowl of beef all the same) I asked to order 3 plates of chips for the table. The waiter said ok, went off to the kitchen and then reappeared to say that the chef had whinged (my word not his) about the fact he had to blanch the chips and then fry them and it would take a few minutes. I said that is OK as we want chips. So off he went, came back yet again to try and dissuade us from ordering chips and when we insisted he wandered off again.
The chips arrived after most people had finished their food, but everyone seemed to still be hungry and wolfed down all 3 bowls of chips, which told me I made the right decision.
We all were still not full and so we ordered desserts. Several of us opted for the Chocolate Streusel at R64 per serving. It consisted of Salted caramel, vanilla crème, chocolate cremeux, cookies and cream ice cream.
Several of the group had ordered the apple pie which was on the blackboard nearby rather than on the menu we were handed. The waiter went off and came back a bit later to say the apple pie was only part of the tapas menu which is served from 4.30pm and therefore was not available. It was 4.20 pm! So if the pie has not been put in to the oven yet then rather come and give us the option – do we want to wait half an hour for the pie to bake? Or do we want to order an alternative? Not just ‘No’. Why have the menu propped up and visible if it is not on offer?
The final straw for me was when I found a large piece of paper in my dessert. There is no excuse for serving someone a large sheet of plasticky paper. They took it off the bill and offered an alternative, but by now they had their 3rd strike and they had certainly not met my expectations. The sour taste in my mouth may have been improved by another sweet but I was just over it.
We ordered coffees and the coffee was actually burnt. Not the best ending to the meal, El sent back her espresso as it was really foul.
We had a lovely day but that was down to the beautiful setting and the joy of my friends’ company. I think in future we will stick to brunch at Bistro 1682 as I have always enjoyed the food and it seemed as if the patrons were less of an inconvenience. Maybe they are morning people? 🙂
The total cost of mine and Norm’s portion of lunch was R877 for both of us for 3 courses with wine.
Their website is http://www.steenbergfarm.com/bistro1682 but if you go, make sure you order chips and maybe find out the corkage fee in case they run out of wine again.