When a fine Diner fails to deliver

Reading some of the reports of the troubles Samsung is undergoing with its fire-prone phones, I am once again reminded of my biggest problem with South African restaurants: a lack of consistency.

It is great having a fine brand and a fine reputation, but it can be destroyed in…well….a whoosh of flame.

My recent Jo’burg dining experiences have included two visits to the Morningside centre, where there are several restaurants, some of which have delighted me in the past.

When my partner in wine Michael Olivier and his even-more charming wife were recently in Jo’burg, we went to a place called the Green Peppercorn, where I have in the past had splendid food.

Now, I doubt they knew that there were two food writers in our party. The service could not have been more annoying, and my own dish should have been hot, but wasn’t. That was after we waited far too long to give our orders, and then again for the food to arrive.

An expensive, but underwhelming, meal for five badly hit my budget, and I am afraid this is a place I will avoid in future.

Similarly, with its neighbour Pomodoro, a place where there is some pretention over its fine Italian food, which may be Italian but falls short of fine.

Steak Tartare (not necessarily an Italian favourite) was made with beef which was too fatty, the vitello tonnato had dry meat in a not-inspiring sauce, and the less said about my pasta dish, the better.

Once again, a restaurant which can deliver, because I have eaten well there before, but which let me down, and don’t get me started on the service – which had trouble itself in getting started.

It is not easy to run a restaurant, and I have every respect for someone who can do it well. But fine dining ain’t cheap, and if I don’t dine fine, that is it.   Farewell.

Now I know there are some food writers in South Africa who shower praise on the most unspectacular joints, and appear to have their heads stuffed into the less fragrant cavities of the restaurant traders.

I therefore caution you about any restaurant which sounds too good to be true.

And when you do find somewhere which really pleases and impresses, tell your friends about it.

After all, we all want gastronomic experiences…..on which we can dine out.



Having waited a while for the queues in the new Starbucks store in Menlyn Maine to die down, I finally gave it a try today.   Certainly, the quality of the coffee was on a par with those I have drunk on several Continents, even though it took a little while for the coffee to be brewed.     There is a Virgin gym just above the Starbucks with a coffee shop which is distinguishable only by its inconsistency. Guess where I will be getting my morning coffees from now on (queues permitting)?


Rob Davies

I may have been a little harsh on Trade and Industry Rob Davies when I wrote recently about his daft plan to raise the legal age for boozing from 18 to 21.   I still believe this is an unworkable law, and like all such legislation, it will bring the law into contempt.

However, I do accept the Minister’s sincere and rightful concern about the dark side of alcohol use.   I was also heartened when he recounted a tale of a spat he had with the Brits over booze bottles.

Apparently, London was insisting that more SA wine should be imported in bulk, to be bottled in the UK, adding to employment there and reducing jobs in SA.

Rob Davies said he countered that if the Brits did that with our wine, we would do the same with their whisky – and I can personally attest there is a healthy demand for the water of life in Sunny SA.

Britain backed down, although I believe we still export too much bulk cheap crap at the expense of the overall image of our wine industry.

I do hope that during the consultation period on the Booze Bill there will be much constructive engagement.

Alcohol does have the potential to destroy lives, but, by God, it can also make many lives so much richer and more enjoyable.   7 days a week.

Let us all keep a sober perspective on this issue.

Cheers for now.


Tweet of the Day:

Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and I thought to myself: where the heck is the ceiling?

Shit Jokes


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