The Favourite Restaurant Quandary

You know when you have a favourite place to eat out? It might be somewhere you treat yourself to once every few weeks or even months.
You might go there most every day.

Bihari in Newlands is my one of those. Sadly, I can’t afford the time, the financial outlay or the likely detrimental effect on my health and weight to eat there every day. But if I could, of course, I would.

We were there this week and the chicken jal frezi was better than ever. And I can say this with great confidence, because I never order anything else when I go there. I can’t, because then I would be missing out on the chicken jal frezi. And how could anything be better than the chicken jal frezi?

Well, I suppose it could, but I will never know, because I will never take that risk.

It seems somewhat sad to never try anything else there, but I never will. However, it’s the only place where I’m like this. Even at other restaurants where I have really enjoyed my meal, the next time I go back I will try something else. But not at Bihari.

Thursday night’s chicken jal frezi was sublime and did nothing to change my approach. In fact, if anything, it merely cemented the dish as my all-time go-to curry there. But even if it hadn’t been as good as usual, next time’s chicken jal frezi would have made everything better.

Take my advice. Go to Bihari. Have the chicken jal frezi.

Then do it again.

Busy down here

Agulhas is busy. Really busy

I recently heard someone remark the other day that Cape Town seemed quieter than usual over the holiday period this year. I’d noticed that too.
Not here though.

We only arrived in Agulhas yesterday, but wow: it’s busy. Really busy.

Even the internet is overloaded and slow like if you were at a concert or a sports event, or just on Cell C.

I’m sure that I have mentioned on here sometime previously that it’s really difficult for businesses to cope with this once off seasonal demand.
Cape Agulhas is a wonderful place, but you have to want to come here. It’s not somewhere you reach accidentally. It’s not near a big airport or transport hub. It’s not on the road to anywhere else (in fact it’s a good 100km-plus off the road to anywhere else). It’s a trip you have to decide to make. And so the two weeks or so around Christmas is the only time this place sees any major action.

That’s just how I like it, of course: it’s why we spend so much time here. But it does make it very hard work for the tourism-related businesses here to make things work. Fifty weeks of the year, they are just trying to survive on the meagre scraps provided by a trickle of geographically-curious visitors; but then they are expected (and required) to upscale for the annual invasion of the Christmas fortnight. The campsites are full, the towns are buzzing, the queues are… noticeable.

And the local restaurants have invested and really stepped up to the challenge this year: the wine shop now has a wine bar and does picnics, the fish and chip shop – an institution – has built a posh extension and can seat many more people, the Twisted Fork has rebranded as the Crafty Pig (and I even saw customers in there), Seagulls has renovated its downstairs restaurant area, Pot Pouri is now huge and has a double-storey gift shop, and Zuidste Kaap has done absolutely nothing, because that’s just how they roll.
With the investment comes a degree of risk, of course: the fish and chip shop was packed today, but on a drizzly Tuesday next July – probably not so much. But I’m sure that the owners and manager of these businesses have taken all this into account when making their decisions. And I’m delighted to say that they were all happily making hay yesterday.

I need to go to bed now, to mentally prepare myself for the very real possibility that that there might be someone on my beach tomorrow.

I haven’t dared to warn the beagle. But then it wouldn’t understand anyway.

Bistro vs Brasserie

We had a really good MBCC meal out at Societi Brasserie in Tokai last night, where the Tall Accountant poured himself this particularly spectacular glass of beer.
I would particularly recommend their mackerel pâte with spicy chutney and the wonderfully-cooked filet au poivre.

One question that did arise, however, was around the difference between a Bistro and a Brasserie, given that Societi Brasserie is the new sister restaurant of Societi Bistro in Gardens.It turns out that aside from spelling and Scrabble scores, there are some minor, but important, differences between the two.

According to wikipedia:

A bistro, sometimes spelled bistrot, is, in its original Parisian incarnation, a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. Home cooking with robust earthy dishes, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet are typical. [link]

while:

brasserie is a type of French restaurant with a relaxed, upscale setting, which serves single dishes and other meals. The word ‘brasserie’ is also French for “brewery” and, by extension, “the brewing business”. A brasserie can be expected to have professional service, printed menus, and, traditionally, white linen — unlike a bistro which may have none of these. [link]

These definitions don’t quite fit with the similar ambience and menu at the two Cape Town Societi businesses, but with food and service like we got last night, I think we’ll happily let them off.

UPDATE: According to their website , the Brasserie I was at last night is in Constantia, not Tokai. If this is the case, Constantia is MUCH bigger than I thought. And it probably includes a golf course and a prison as well. If you stretch it still further, you might get a beach in as well.