It’s day 2 of restaurant week, the sun is out, a little windy but I’m going to the beach today :). I am visiting The Grand and the Beach. I’ve eaten here before but it was many moons ago, when they first opened in 2009. I liked the cocktails then but not the food so much. I’m looking forward to trying their food now and hopefully they’ve improved with age. Since I’ve been there last, they have 2 other franchises making it 4; Harare Zimbabwe, The Grand in Camps Bay and Plettenberg bay down the East Coast of the Western Province.
The directions or ‘Foundability’
It doesn’t seem fair to judge them on this category since I knew where they were located and didn’t need to get any directions from them. But I got parking, I didn’t have to pay for, without any problems.
It is literally on the beach, they’ve made their own man-made beach. Hence a 180 degrees sea view, with boats cruising up and down to and from the waterfront harbour. They’ve really struck gold with this location, other than the sea view, they are located in the heart of the Cape Town buzz. They are flanked by the V&A Waterfront on the right, high end hotels on the left, the sea in front and the World Cup stadium behind. As a result they get a lot of famous people, as Gonny tells me, Charlize Theron came here last month for her birthday.
The decor is crispy white, which obviously I personally appreciate. With hints of shine and greys, complementing the white and fresh pink roses on the tables adding a summery feeling.
As most places go for benches on the sand, I like how they’ve kept the chairs. You feel like you’re still in a upmarket restaurant sitting on the sand, and not suddenly a pub, without it feeling too pretentious.
But let’s remember how Precious judges a place; by their bathrooms and house wine, regardless of how many stars they claim to have!. Speaking of bathrooms 🙂 , very clean with quirky decor but the icing on the cake was the magazines inside every bathroom stall. I’m not sure how long they wanted me to stay in there.
They have fair options, I’m just happy they have the Durbanville Hills Sauvignon blanc and Haute Cabrierre Chardonnay/ Pinot noir blend, which are my favourites. But I’ll have to try their house white today, to honestly judge them. I am impressed though, that they Pongracz as their house sparkling wine 🙂 . Pongracz is my 2nd go to bubbles in South Africa.
Back in the day, in my student days, I loved their cocktails and I think it’s fair I try some today. So I tried a Basil martini and a Ginger Rogers( ginger with ginger extracts and mint). With the basil martini, a little heavyhanded with the basil to a point it’s tasting medicinal. Served as a palate cleanser it would’ve worked. And the ginger Rogers, it tastes and looks like a ginger mojito.
I’m always on the lookout for beer on tap, because of my husband of course. It is a deal breaker or maker with him, but I’m happy to see they have 5 options of draughts and most importantly the faithful Italian, Peroni draught.
The offering; a two course meal lunch, starters and mains.
I was not impressed by how limited the menu was. Not just the special menu for Restaurant week but their everyday menu as well. Too constricted. And the actual printed menu, on a piece of ‘newspaper’ paper, too flimsy. Maybe if it was stronger paper or laminated, as is If I spill my drink on it that’ll be the end of my copy. Not sure how sustainable this is.
Moreover, it’s so disorganized, it’s 8 pages including the cover pages. The 2nd page is all the food, 3rd the cover page for drinks, 4th page the cocktails, 5th the wine, 7th SALADS! It really does not make any sense to me, do salads now qualify as beverage or is there a new trend I’m missing?
Menu options are: Starters- chilled watercress & yoghurt soup, which I chose OR garlic snails, parsley & croutons. This just seems too basic for me. I’m expecting a bit of an effort to impress, it is restaurant week after all.
My starter: it’s soup, basic soup! There’s nothing jumping off the soup and grabbing me. Surely if you’re going to choose any dish to represent your restaurant and your culinary skill as a chef, you wouldn’t choose soup. It was made well, creamy but a little under seasoned but it was still cold soup.
I’m really now scratching for good things to say about this soup! At least it was chilled, you wouldn’t want a warm soup on a beautiful summers day. But I can still think of a lot of things I’d rather have. The only other option was snails and I’m not the biggest fan, I love oysters but can’t do snails. So my only option was soup!
My main: options are short rib burger, white truffle aioli, fries and onion rings OR penne pasta with mussels, bacon and thyme cream. Obviously I chose the pasta, but if they had given me a 3rd option I would’ve gone for that. Since I’m generally never burger or pasta inclined unless I have a specific craving. But I’m hoping it’ll taste so good, I’ll have soup amnesia.
The verdict: good start with the visuals- no mussel shells, thank you. I hate it when restaurants serve you fork food with shells.
And oh yes it did, give me soup amnesia, that is. It was just perfect 🙂 ! The pasta perfectly Al dente, the rich bacon and mussels, just one word; yummy! And the thyme cream sauce just rounds everything up with a flavorful velvety finish. This is what a perfect pasta dish tastes like. I’m so excited, now! It is so perfectly seasoned that i don’t even need to add parmesan.
It’s a pity they didn’t get me this excited from the word go. The portion size is also very appropriate for lunch. But I will take marks off because I was not really given much choice, it was either this or go home hungry.
My waiter was a very chatty Gonny, who impressively is turning 60 in a few months and yet he looks like a 30 year old. He also happens to be my homeboy, he’s from KwaZulu Natal as well, in Westville, so immediate bonding was a result. He was very attentive but sometimes a bit too much, at the beginning. But I could see, he really meant well.
I do feel like I was getting special attention though because they knew I was there to review their restaurant. But as much as the kitchen was prompt with the food, it took forever to get drinks.
This is where they get top marks. There’s good background music, a lot of patrons enjoying their lunch, smiles from the staff and everyone generally helpful. And the much appreciated touch, is the 2 pink painted strokes on their cheeks for breast month awareness.
Overall: I had a good day, I’m glad I picked this restaurant today. My experience was good and the place made me feel relaxed and not old. A lot of upmarket restaurants make me feel old, and I’m not!
Now time for the scores!
Like previously stated I won’t judge Foundability.
The location/venue- 10/10
The food/beverages- Drinks- 7/10. Starters- 4/10. Mains- 8/10
Overall experience/ Ambience- 9/10
TOTAL Score = 47/60. Average = 7,8/10
In conclusion will I go back for lunch? No, not to eat. As much as the food was a let down, the location and ambience will make me comeback for drinks with friends.
Now I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s restaurant. It was actually meant to be just Societi restaurant for lunch, but my family and friends also wanted in on the experience. So it’ll be lunch at Societi and dinner at Buitenverwachting restaurant. Should be fun 🙂 !
Any good day, should end with a pic! I hope this review will be helpful to someone and please check out restaurants participating in Restaurant week in your area.