The Ocean Terrace Curry Buffet, Umhlanga 10-2019

Staying at The Oyster Box Hotel (rated the best hotel in Africa) came with a few priveleges. Not only the ocean view from the private bedroom balcony, the complementary champagne and chocolate strawberries, nor the congratulatory balloon and rose petals during the evening turn. Our deal included some (good) sushi and a glass of wine, and that's where we first found The Ocean Terrace. It is essentially the main eating area for the hotel, and even though there is an oyster bar and a high tea section, you can enjoy those meals on the terrace also.

I had read about the famous curry buffet in Umhlanga and fortune would have it that it is hosted at The Ocean Terrace itself also. Given the evening (and potential threat of mosquitoes), we opted to sit inside for the night.

After flying early that morning, having a small sushi lunch but also lots of wine/champagne, strawberries, I had to maintain some stomach for the buffet and that meant eating nice and late at 8.30pm. The deal is simple - R450 for all the curry your heart, stomach and bowels can handle and ended with a dessert.

There’s many staff wrapping samosas, ready to reheat your naan and roti and replacing the curries all evening. It is an exercise in 5* hotel in action.

But now to the food...

Tandoori chicken was disappointing and dry. Beef shish was ok spiced but similarly dry. They had both probably been sitting too long. Spinach and cheese samosa was ok, but nothing special. I wasn’t quite sure what the chilli bite was, but it wasn’t that chilli and not that good. In fact the only good thing from my entrees plate for the chicken pilau – much heavier, wetter and darker than a biryani but with some good spiced flavour.

Next was onto the curries, which had to be better since it’s a curry buffet. I didn’t try the veg korma nor dhal because I can’t imagine that would be different to elsewhere and I needed to save stomach place.

From clockwise around the plate, we had garlic naan (ok texture, garlic was there but not very strong), roti (actually very good), potato pea mushroom (standard), fish curry (very nice version strong in flavour and cooked down until not too firm), lentils (standard), chicken and prawn (a mild creamy style with nice tasting but one prawn was good texturally and the other was mushy), butter chicken (a nice simple version rich with tomato), beef vindaloo (brilliant and cooked deep until the chilli and spices had some serious burn), butter bean (standard), lamb (very lamby but really not much spice. Quite disappointing).

I went back for another serve of the fish, butter chicken and vindaloo. The vindaloo was remarkably good and if I had the stomach space, could handle even more fire and burn, then I would have had a third one.

Dessert included kulfi with crushed nuts (ok, a bit sweet), a vermicelli pudding (even more sweet), and gulab jamon (didn’t try it, they said it is even sweeter and cooked with rose water and syrup).

Overall it’s quite expensive for curry but you are paying for the variety and setting.

The Ocean Terrace - The Oyster Box Hotel Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Bo Kaap Kombuis, Cape Town 10-2019

Cape Malay is supposedly the local version of Malaysia/Indonesia type food, full with breads and curries and the rest. I had read it was similar but just less spicy and so before a walking tour in Bo Kaap was a good time to try it. It really is up the end of a steep long road up the top of Bo Kaap and sits above a primary school where the children run and scream like mad. At least they are having fun.

Unfortunately they had a buffet and not the a la carte. Hmm. Oh well.

The roti was alright, bobotie was a slightly too salty version of mince lasagne without the pasta, tomato breddie was probably the best of all the dishes as a mildly beef curry cooked until the tomatoes turned dark. Chicken curry, lentils, dhal and butter bean curry were all ok. Nothing chilli at all, and not all that special overall in terms of flavour.

R200 for some starter snacks (all a bit average and not hot) and a very sweet *** to finish. Although the *** sounds good on paper, it wasn’t anywhere near as soft of easy to eat as a donut, being rather thick and heavy. The syrup and coconut didn’t complement as well as they really should.

It suppose it was both good and bad the buffet was on – buffets aren’t really my thing (I can’t eat that much comfortably anymore) and I couldn’t choose what I wanted but I guess also meant I could try a few different dishes.

Indeed it did seem a bit like the plainer cousins of the pure Asian forms. At least I’ve tried it.

Bo Kaap Kombuis Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

La Petite Ferme, Franschhoek 10-2019

Given the beautiful sunny and rainless 24C October days, a daytrip out to the winelands was a must. The options were between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. In the end the reviews online sounded like Stellenbosch is a working town and not so special, whereas Franschhoek is a (potentially artificial) tourist village created but still with French charm.

Franschhoek won in the end for this French vineyard, selected mainly because the food is meant to be good (and the wine was probably alright too). The setting is beautiful with the windows opening onto a lush lawn with peacock roaming around, and the grape trees lining the foreground before the mountains filled the background. Spectacular.

The wine was ok (I can’t really tell), but the local brewed cider was very minimally alcoholic. 3 apples per bottle of cider it said. Nice I guess.

Food was 2 courses for R375 (or 3 for R440 but we were stuffed after 2).

Some too old white bread was served alongside some much fresher seeded bread, basil pesto and a very grassy EVOO but the balsamic was too deeply at the bottom.

Starters
- Prawn cocktail (La Petite Ferme heritage dish) – perfectly cooked and slightly crisp coated red velvet and Kuro ash crumbed tiger prawns. Served with Marie Rose espuma, heirloom tomato flakes, crispy mint, pickled cucumbers, micro cos lettuce, lemon pearls;
- Duo of pate – 3 pieces of black garlic-infused ciabatta toast (couldn’t really detect the garlic) with cured snoek pate and trout caviar on the sides and smoked Franschhoek trout with black caviar on the middle one. Topped with rocket pesto and Viking salted chips, and a smear of lemon curd jelly on the plate.

Mains
- Heritage lamb – slow-braised then pulled, compressed and panfried lamb tagine (quite good, maybe a little more seasoning), charcoal mash (a bit plain), white asparagus (which I think was actually just normal asparagus – nothing white about those on the plate), biltong dust micro peas (tasted like peas) and mint yoghurt gel;
- Duck 6 ways – crispy confit duck leg, duck liver parfait wontons (tasting as expected of foie gras), seared duck breast (meant to be medium-rare but served closer to medium-well sadly), duck pastrami, edamame beans, grilled bok choy, duck jus gras.
- Side of braai corn R – grilled corn. Nice and simple. Nothing too unique. I guess is braai is just the local word of describing it.

Overall a lovely setting a bit further out from Franschhoek centre itself. The food was overall good although the menu ingredients made it sound a bit too complicated and certainly some of the flavours weren’t discernible. Nonetheless nice.

La Petite Ferme Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Table Mountain Cableway Cafe, Cape Town 10-2019

After a 1h40m hike through Platteklip gorge to Table Mountain, it was nice to have food up the top and so not needed to BYO. Having said that, a picnic sitting outside in the sun with a cool breeze and the views would be quite spectacular.

Nonetheless the food was supposedly alright, and it was.

Ostrich pie slice R47 had tender chunky meat, florets of cauliflower and some pumkpin with a meaty sauce. Very good actually. 

The buffet section is R25 per 100g. All the grilled vegetables and wedges, spinach and cheese were nice and flavoursome. Decent quality, although a bit on the expensive side. Then again given you're up on a mountain, I guess it's understandable.

Bay Harbour Market, Cape Town 10-2019

On the weekends, Hout Bay is the place to be for the weekend market. Although being described at 100 stalls, it was actually smaller than I expected.

Parking is made easy by the many many attendants shuffling and directing people in and out of spots. For a small donation, they "watch" over your car. R2-5 seems to be the standard, whatever small change you have they are happy with. You can look over Hout Bay and the settlements up on the mountain side that you shouldn't dare venture into.

Inside there's stalls selling clothes, jewelry, artwork, but then onto the food from sweets, bakery goods, burgers and the rest. On stage a cover band was performing beautifully with a particularly memorable rendition of Riptide.

Foodwise, I had my first Ostrich pie R40 (at a Tunisian stall of all things) which was full of meaty chunks akin to a good beef pie. Also a lamb roll which had shreds of meat, still good but paled in comparison.

Seafood came from local Hout Bay calamari fried (simple and flavoursome) and 6 oysters from ... R25 each (quite big with mild flavour and creamy cores).

Dr. Juice smoothie washed it all down well. Then it was time to be off to the next place.

Kalky's, Cape Town 10-2019

Apparently Kalk Bay is now an outer suburb of Cape Town.

After an afternoon admiring and dipping quickly with the penguins at Boulder’s Bay, a pre-sunset meal at Kalkies was one I had read about. Why was it so famous? Maybe because it has a local institutional feel about it in a shack along the pier next to where the fisherman sell their goods and the seals lounge or swim.

It would be a beautiful spot for a sunset meal, but we weren’t going to wait 2 hours just for that to happen.

- Grilled kob & chips R150 - a meaty thick cutlet grilled and chopped up with nice full flavour, but not in a strong fish taste way. The chips were generally ok, some crisp, some not. For a fish & chip place, they should do this better;

- Fried snoek R50 - mild flavour and more firm than soft, but the flesh was really good and had unusually long longitudinal bones running through. Unusual.

I actually liked the grilled fish more which was unexpected. It also took much much longer to cook - about 20mins whereas the fried ones were being churned out continuously.

Overall it is a really popular place and brimming with people. It has a nice atmosphere and is pleasant to watch the beach and ocean if you can bare the winds. The food is decent without being exceptional.

Kalkys Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

V&A Waterfront Food Market, Cape Town 10-2019

We walked into the food court at the V&A and were surrounded by burger and pizza fast food joints. Hmm. This can't be right. How could this be the place to be? I looked up online just to make sure - yes there is a place that serves decent food and juices. I asked a security guard where the food court is, and he said "I'll take you". Outside we went past people watching rugby on a big screen, a playground and toward the main road. The building further away right along the waterfront area had the sign for the food market. Definitely not a food court.

Outside I giggled reading a sign for "No Hipsters" with their scraggly beards, vegan diets, tiny feet and beds of hay. Oh, hamsters. No hamsters. Someone is creative up there.

The food inside has limited options but they all look very good. Eventually I settled on the only African stand that served an excellent tender and very mildly spicy beef stew R70 (even after I topped it with more dried chilli), and served with my first exposure to samp (dried and stamped corn kernels) R25. I wanted to try the pap balls, but the server said no, one or the other is enough since they are both roughly the same. Also the bobotie balls eluded me this time around. Maybe next time. It was a very large lunch serve and really great flavours.

The other sampling was Hungarian flatbreads (I don't remember this in Budapest) which were like soft fried roti pizzas. Very nice and this one refreshing with smoked salmon and avocado R75.

Afterwards an outstanding gelato at Unframed (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/unframed-ice-cream-cape-town-10-2019) and a refreshing chilli ginger juice from Dr. Juice completed the satisfying lunch venture.

The setting is really lovely with the water and Table Mountain in the background. There was also a drumming band entertaining us throughout lunch in the plaza lined with statues of South Africa's Nobel peace prize winners.

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant, Cape Town 10-2019

Although South African food was high on my priority list, it seemed a bit silly not to seek out the food from other African countries. Interestingly there are only a handful of pan-African restaurants (like Mama Africa, Gold, Marco's) and even fewer specialty ones I could find. Ethiopian is something we've always enjoyed and so we ventured for that.

There's Lucy and Addis both nearby, and I chose Lucy because it was a little closer (and the Google rating marginally higher 4.7 vs. 4.4). For a while we were the only 2 diners on a Monday night. It's a nicely decorated setting full of African tapestries, decorations and faces adorning the walls.

The service was all smiles and banter - excellent hospitality worthy of the 15% tip I gave. The food is good too. I learnt about mitmita, the hotter sister of berbere although the waiter said none of the dishes had it in them. I think by the end what he meant was they save the mitmita for the Ethiopians, under the assumption noone else will enjoy or can handle the heat. That sounds like a challenge for next time, as the berbere was spicy but only mildly so.

- Buticha R40 - I've never tried crispy injera, but here is was deepfried to a crisp porous chip with the distinctive tangy taste and sprinkled with berbere. It was served with two delicious dips of blended chickpeas (although I wonder if it was yellow lentils) and homemade cottage cheese with sauteed spinach. Excellent and unique dish;
- Combo (select 2 half portions of dishes for the injera) R155 x2 - white injera lined the plate and was served with doro wot drumstick (excellent dark scarlet earthy spicy chilli sauce with an egg and a drumstick), yebeg alicha (very meaty-tasting lamb with garlic, ginger and clarified butter), misir wot (red split lentils in berbere with a less intense sauce than the doro wot) and mushroom (cleanly cooked with garlic and delicious). My favourite was clearly the doro wot, but the others were nice and complemented well.

I really wanted to try the special kitfo of beef tartar, but that choice was vetoed. Next time, with doro wat then. Maybe with some mitmita on top.

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Arnold's Restaurant, Cape Town 10-2019

South Africa is known for braai and meat particularly. One of the things I longed for but never had the opportunity to during the safari trip to Kenya and Tanzania in 2013 was trying game meats. They just weren't offered at the places we went.

There's a few places offering such things in Cape Town - Arnold's, Mama Africa, Karibu, Mama Africa, Gold, Marco's seem to be the names I found online.

Arnold's was extremely close to our accommodation off Kloof Street and so the easy choice for the first night dinner.

- Ostrich goulash soup (slow cooked ostrich, carrots, peppers) R55 - too heavy on the salt, but meaty and flavoursome. It wasn't the most tender meat, but otherwise couldn't be distinguished from beef;
- West Coast mussels (creamy garlic & white wine sauce) R65 - a waste of time. Tiny mussels that looked old and had no flavour and a soft mushy texture. The sauce also needed a good dose of salt and pepper;
- South African Game Platter R249 - grilled warthog ribs (smoked, flame grilled, lightly basted) were a lean meaty version of pork ribs cooked with a sweetened barbecue sauce similar to a ham glaze; crocodile tagine (mild Moroccan style sweet & sour curry-based) were tender pieces of meat, moreso than I've had from crocodile previously with earthy spices; kudu loin (grilled, rolled in cumin & salt) is a type of antelope with the medium-rare meat grainy but a mild game/beef-type flavour; ostrich steak was a very tender piece of meat with a very mild flavour to it, similar to beef eye fillet with the grilled and green peppercorn flavour coming through.

The best part of the meal was easily the unexpectedly tender ostrich steak. Although not the strongest in flavour, it tasted nice and was a dining revelation.

Arnolds Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Unframed Ice Cream, Cape Town 10-2019

After late-lunching at Hudsons The Burger Joint, a short walk away is Unframed. The open front store with the convenient engraved seating outside in the sun provides a perfect atmosphere to people watch, get asked for money, and listen to the hiphop blasting from the store.

There are a few usual flavours like salted caramel, vanilla but no nut ones sadly. There are also some very unusual ones like lime lemon basil (tastes like a granita) and the two I tried at R38 for a one scoop cone - strawberry coconut (quite sweet with only the tiniest bit of coconut) and turmeric latte (a fluoro yellow offering with a little bit of sweet, a lot of turmeric, and how the latte form does taste). I didn't like the strawberry but I did so the turmeric, although the flavour got a bit much in the end. Maybe it's more the colour and novelty factor.

These vegan ones were texturally quite slick and gummy. Not sure how they did it, but it was ok. Different.

If I went back it would be for a non-vegan one.

Addon 10-2019

I found by chance Unframed at the V&A food market. This time they had flavours that appealed to me more, including a potent vegan matcha and a perfectly coloured and reasonably strong flavoured bronte "just pistachio". A couple of ice crystals were present but that's nitpicking. These were really excellent in flavour and texture otherwise.

Unframed Ice Cream Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato