Norm for good service

Boy away on school camp.
Girl takes full advantage of parents’ undivided attention, asks if we can do dinner.
Of course we can.

Dad checks menu online.
Dad reads the small print.
Never read the small print.

Small print too small for you? Here’s what it says:

Gratuity Policy
We hereby respectfully advise that gratuity is not included in our main prices. The norm for good service is 100% of the total bill. The payment of gratuity is entirely voluntary and the amount is based on the quality of service.

Did I miss something here? Not since the Waterfront branch of Cape Town Fish Market conveniently informed tourists that ‘in South Africa, we routinely tip twenty percent’ has there been such a blatant attempt to rip restaurant patrons off.

But even the pisspoor CTFM kept it vaguely reasonable. This is completely off the scale. And at a restaurant where a 3 course meal plus wine will set you back ±R400 per person, it’s no wonder that the parking lot is full of Audis and Beemers – that’s clearly how the waiting staff get to and from work.

It’s here

The new a-ha album Cast In Steel came out last night. And I’m listening to it right now. I’ve been listening to it most of the morning, truth be told. I’ve missed several important phone calls and ignored all my colleagues in a meeting. These people must just understand. After all, I’m usually very accommodating. Today is different, though, because a-ha’s new album came out today and that’s actually far more important to me than they are right now.

I’ll obviously have to do a proper review at some stage (of the album, not the colleagues), but for the moment, have this:
First thoughts (spoiler: I’ve been listening to excerpts and track leaks for the last couple of months, so these are actually not my first thoughts at all) are that it is very Radio 2. This is no longer the cutting edge of pop music. This is mature music for a more mature audience. A Radio 2 listening audience.

However, there remains, amongst the music for old people, hints of the electronic synth-pop which made a-ha so popular 30 (*weep*) years ago. That ting-ting-ting in the chorus of The Wake, the first few bars of Forest Fire, which could be straight off 1985’s Hunting High And Low, will happily take you back to younger days.

Then add the 5 bonus tracks: demo versions and interesting remixes of previous releases, and you’ve got a proper treat for fans like me who have been around for too long since the early days.
And there’s more on the way, with a concert tour (yes, I shall be making plans) and the 30th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Box Set of Hunting High and Low [lengthy tracklist here] coming out later this month (strike while the iron is hot).

September has been kind to us.

Is This The Best Album Review Ever?

And Was That A Bit Of A Clickbaity Post Title?

Whatevs.

I’ve been listening to Drones, Muse’s seventh studio album for a couple of weeks now and it’s still not quite bitten. Just still a little bit hit and miss for me. One thing that is for sure (and is backed up by ever other review I’ve read thus far) is that it’s a “concept album” set in “a harrowing, Orwellian picture of a world reduced to a totalitarian state”, and describing “the journey of a human, from their abandonment and loss of hope, to their indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to their eventual defection from their oppressors”. Happy days.

Continuing from where The Resistance left off and railing against Big Government and Big Corporates (the album is released on small independent label, Warner Bros), Drones – promised as a return to their roots – seems to have done that rather effectively by simply being a mishmash of all the previous Muse albums. And that is no bad thing. In fact, musically, I think that the individual tracks are fairly spectacular. Together, though – I just don’t know.

Some people have made their minds up though, like this reviewer for example. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think that he’s hugely impressed.

F*** me with the wet end of a guided f***ing missile that’s accidentally landed in a giant tub of f***ing horseshit, the f***ing swear word hasn’t been coined that’s sufficiently f***ing potent enough to convey just what a jawdroppingly, pants-chewingly, arse-achingly abysmal f***ing album these serially offending c***wits have come up with this time round! To call it “utter bollocks” would a f***ing insult even to the meanest, sweatiest pair of bollocks! I would in all seriousness consider my time to have been more rewardingly spent if I’d pressed my f***ing ear up against the bollocks of a random f***ing bloke on the tube for 53 f***ing minutes than listened to the toxic f***ing barrel of rancid elephant smegma that is Drones! Can you imagine the internal agonies of whatever poor c*** of a f***ing record company executive had to experience every last minute of this pompous, incoherent, incontinent, beyond-laughable, addled, 112th rate, thunderously f***ing vacuous tower of toss?

If you can get past the constant self-censorship (which is actually rather off-putting, and not just in that is constantly disrupts the readability of the column) and try to imagine this as the rage of a utterly livid music journalist (something like an unrestrained Nick Taras) in a darkened room of a bedsit in London, rather than a contrived attention-seeking list of obscenities, then it could be one of the best album reviews ever. And I’m giving “Mr Agreeable” (for it is he) the benefit of the doubt, because lines like:

the toxic f***ing barrel of rancid elephant smegma

and:

“Save me, from the ghosts and shadows before they eat my soul”, warbles Bellamy, like he’s having his f***ing gonads sandpapered by an over-fussy mother!

would get nothing but praise were they to appear in an episode of Blackadder.

Mr Agreeable may not be Richard Curtis or Rowan Atkinson. He may not even be agreeable.
But this might just be the best album review I have ever read.

Some sound advice from Good Housekeeping magazine

Or “God Goalkeeping” magazine, as my phone keeps trying to rename it (Jesus Saves?).
Anyway, you may spot this in February’s issue:

image

which seems like a very good idea.

There’s also a lovely write up on The Guru’s blog.
The only issue is having to buy a publication with Sicky Dion on the front cover. However, I found that hiding it inside a hardcore pornography magazine made things a whole lot less awkward when going to pay.

Bentley Oyster Bar and Bistro

UPDATE: 26th November 2013

While this meal continues to live long in the memory for all the right reasons, I would strongly advise that you do not give this institution your cellphone number when booking a table. I have been spammed several times each week since our visit inviting me to sample their bottomless ribs, steak and oyster special or a “classic comedian” (amongst others).
All of these messages clearly contravene the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 by having no opt-out link within them and by not having my express permission to contact me in this way in the first place.
It’s putting me right off the place. A lot

Not to be confused with Bentley’S Oyster Bar & Grill – that’s in London. But this one is tucked just off Dreyer Street in Claremont, Cape Town and we went there last night.

And before we even got there, the free, secure underground parking was a big plus, especially given the miserable weather.
But then, first impressions of the actual restaurant were mixed: the place looks great – big bling, mirrors, phat couches, heavy silk curtains and chandeliers. But it also looked very empty. In fact, aside from a couple of guys at the bar, it was just us. And that’s never a great ad for a place.

Still, there’s a good choice of local (mainly Bosun’s) beers on tap, an interesting selection of cocktails and the menu does look fairly awesome, with Tapas, Oysters (durr!) and Mains all very tempting. I began with a Johnny Gold Weissbier and Mrs 6000 had their (generously measured) eponymous Bentley cocktail and we chilled to the 80s mixtape (Paul Young, The Cure, Evoid, Duran Duran).
All was good as we headed starterward [menu].

I had to try the spicy Bloody Mary Oyster shot and I was not disappointed. It was super tasty and did everything it said it would and left me ready to hit the mains. Mrs 6k played safe with the deep fried Camembert, coated in black and white sesame seeds and cranberry sauce – amazing value at just R20. I should probably slip in a quick word about the service here, which was prompt and attentive (as it should have been with no-one else around), but not too much “in yer face” at all.

Then it was fish time. A really decent sized portion of Norwegian Salmon for the missus, cooked to perfection and served with roast potatoes and spring veg. And I went large with their Seafood Platter.

One word (unnecessarily punctuated): Su. Perb.

Because let’s just run through what exactly that entails, shall we?

4 really, really good fresh oysters, 2 deep fried oysters, 6 prawns, a big chunk of linefish (Kingklip, last night), tentacles and 6 mussels, served with rice, chips and veg. I didn’t know where to start. It seemed to go on forever. But was I paying for quantity and no quality?
Well, no. Every last mouthful was wonderful. Best value ever at R180.

After all that, there was no room for dessert, but next time, their Deep Fried Strawberry Fritters (served with cream, butterscotch sauce & sparkling wine) are getting a beating.

I can only guess that this place caters mainly for the Claremont Business District and is busier for lunch and for post-work drinks (they have specials between 4 and 6 each day), and also on Fridays when they have a resident DJ in. Hopefully, that allows them to keep going through quieter nights like yesterday, because already, I can’t wait to go back.

Bentley Oyster Bar and Bistro, Toffee Lane, off Dreyer Street, Claremont, Cape Town.
+27216713948.

This is not a sponsored post:
“I’ll always tell you if I am endorsing a product in exchange for cold, hard cash”.