Table Manners: Suiting up for Manhood

By Darrel Bristow-Bovey.

For me, manhood meant a place at a table in a restaurant.

When I was very young in Durban my father had a ritual. Once a month on a Monday he would put on a clean white shirt and a tie and a sports jacket and leave the house alone. This was a strange turn of events, because ordinarily my father would never wear a tie or a jacket, and also this was Durban in the 1970s – the only people who wore ties and jackets were waiters and jewel thieves.

He would come home later in the evening, and I would hear his car pull up in the driveway and hear him open the front door and walk through the house, and I can’t remember if I ever asked him where he went in his clean white shirt and his tie and sports jacket, but I know it felt like a tremendous secret, something strange and terrible and not quite fit for the eyes of moms and small kids.

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Review: Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia

The Proposition

Chef Ivor Jones, previously head chef at the much-lauded The Test Kitchen, captains this luxury winelands offshoot of Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse in Cape Town.

When it opened, Chefs Warehouse in Cape Town quickly became a food-hound’s favourite for the sheer quality of the cuisine and the fact that one could enjoy various flavours in miniature through the “tapas for two” option where two diners submit to the pleasures of the kitchen and enjoy a series of dishes. It’s a less fussy version of a tasting menu – albeit pretty far from “tapas” in a true sense of the word as they’re smaller portions of pretty cheffy food. The distinct advantage of this approach is that the kitchen can react to new or seasonal or a whim pretty quickly, and offer an ever-changing menu for those who return often.

While the original Chefs embodies a “no-fuss” environment – the tiny dining space alongside and indeed within a retail space with ingredients and cooking utensils all around – the Beau Constantia edition is considerably more upmarket in feel and very far from being a warehouse in any sense of the word, and more of a showroom. The new Chefs Warehouse does, however, also anchor its menu on the “tapas for two”.

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Story of a Plate: Pork Belly at Black Sheep Restaurant

On the menu: Chinese 5 spice-hoisin Pork Belly w/sweet potato purée, Chinese cabbage & crackling

There seems to always be pork belly on the Black Sheep menu, suggesting it’s one of those dishes diners would start complaining about not being available if you ever took it off. How did it become one of your “signature” dishes, and what’s the story of this particular iteration?

Chef Jonathan Japha: When you’re cooking for a restaurant of this volume, you’ve got to have some food that’s pre-done, and organised, and fully cooked, and there’s no reason why you can’t make things that are suited specifically to that purpose. Pork belly is one of those meats that really works better when you cook it very slowly for a long period of time, and because it’s already cooked, it’s perfect to have sitting in a bain marie. We keep it in the oven, with the glaze on top, with water on the bottom of the pan, so that it actually continues to cook as service progresses, and it just gets better and better as it sits.

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Have you voted for your favourite steakhouse?

The Wolftrap Steakhouse Championships is on again, asking for nominations for South Africa’s favourite steakhouses – followed by a judging round in June where these restaurants will be assessed by the experts to crown the Steakhouse Champion for 2017.

Go over to the Steakhunter Facebook page app to cast your vote for your favourite now!

Review: Coobs, Parkhurst

The Proposition

“Coobs sources their (sic) produce from local suppliers and organic farms to create unique modern bistro-style food. Close to 75% of ingredients come from our organic farm ‘Brightside’ in the Magaliesburg.”

South African restaurants are not big on provenance in an authentic, through-the-line way. Here and there, menus make reference to a few farms but they as often slip in the name of a supplier or a feedlot (e.g. Karan beef) in the qualifier place, as if that’s proof of provenance. Well it is, but it’s a bit like saying they buy their lettuce from Woolies to make you feel like you’re getting the close to origin. It’s not the same as going all the way back to the farmer.

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