By John Fraser
It had been some years since I had last cheerfully staggered out of Cesco’s in Randburg, a pub/restaurant specialising in honest, homely Portuguese food.
That long gap had been my loss, as I discovered on a long-overdue recent lunch outing.
My hosts, M&M, had long wanted to try out this place, which is close to their leafy Linden chateaux, and I am never one to turn up my perfectly-sculpted nose at the prospect of free grub.
This is clearly a venue which overflows with excitement and noise during important sporting events. How do I know? The eight-or-more TV screens gave me a strong clue.
Our group had plates of queen prawns, a prawn and calamari combo, and a beef prego roll. There was also a plate of (slightly chewy) pickled octopus to share.
Water, a chilled Stella and a bottle of Portuguese rosé lubricated the function, and, being the biggie piggy at the table, I polished off my feast with a not-too-sweet creme caramel.
The prawns were de-veined, butterflied and nicely grilled. I asked for garlic butter and was brought a generous tub of the stuff, with which I flooded my catch. Prawn paradise.
The chips were enjoyable, and certainly much better than those you get in many an expensive, pretentious palace. They appeared to have come from a potato and not a freezer bag and were nicely cooked. I could have had rice as well, and the others did so.
Whenever I see those lists of winning top restaurants, the winners tend to fall into two main categories: those I have visited and walked out of, and those on which I will never, ever, ever waste my hard-earned shekels. There are exceptions, but not many.
What I most want when I eat out is excellent value, enjoyable food, a relaxed atmosphere and a chair which will not leave me sore in all the most tender spots (photos illustrating this can be found on the dark web).
What I love about Cesco’s is the sheer lack of pretension, with service which is efficient but not fawning, an attractive and varied menu, a fun atmosphere with people who dine out for enjoyment, not to pose and be seen. And no numb bums to be seen.
Oh, and the Prego roll and chips cost just R50. Far better tasting and probably better value than the burger equivalents from most fast-food outlets. I didn’t cost the rest of the meal, as I was the recipient of M&M’s large largesse, but from what I did pick up, the bank remained unbroken.
As we munched our way through our lunch, chatting, smiling, laughing, drinking, prodding, poking, grabbing and pouring, I reflected that this is the sort of place I love to visit. Casual, well-priced, but good food. No complaints there.
Leaving with a grin, in such a good mood that I inadvertently tipped the car-guard, I vowed to return.
And, unlike Boris, I tend to keep my promises.
Rating: I give it 4.5*
Key to the Ratings….
1* Dog food is nicer
2*. Cat food is nicer
3*. Not bad if Woolworths is sold out of ready meals.
4*. I like it
5*. I love it. Not to be missed.