Last night we went out to Karibu restaurant on the Waterfront. Now, I know what you’re thinking: tourist trap. And you’re right.
For the amount of money that you spend there, you could have a really decent meal at a really decent restaurant in Cape Town. Or even Franschhoek, if you could afford the petrol. But last night we were with tourists and we went in to the experience fully aware that we were going to be overcharged for our evening. Note that the benchmark 2009 Beyerskloof Pinotage (available for R40 retail at the vineyard earlier in the day) was a monumental and record breaking R145 a bottle. Ouch!
But like I said – we went in with our eyes open, so that was fine.
Let’s start with the positive. Singular. The food was good. Not exceptional. Not OMG-I’m-going-to-have-to-stop-eating-and-phone-Cape-Talk wonderful, but pretty good. Which was nice.
Sadly, the positive ended there. Lets start with our waitress, who I shall not name and shame, save to say that she was named after a German car company. Beginning with M. And ending with ercedes. You might be able to work it out – I don’t know.
She couldn’t speak English. Now I know that South Africa has 11 official languages, but I’m willing to bet that her Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu weren’t up to much either. Her Spanish was probably awesome, but mine is rubbish, so that wouldn’t have helped much either.
Let me give you an example. I told her what I wanted for my starter; she wrote it down. I told her what I wanted for my main course; she wrote it down. And then she asked me what I wanted for my starter. Of course, she meant what would I like to have as a side order for my main course, but she didn’t know how to say that in English. Fundamentals.
Still – that was better than my brother who was given a random side order for his main course (not having been asked) and my mother, who was given the wrong side order with her main course. I got the wrong starter (unsurprisingly), my wife didn’t get her glass of water and the manager had to come and confirm what my main course was, because the kitchen didn’t know. Not great.
We were asked if the TV (right next to our table for the football) was too loud, which it was, so they turned it down. Then they pumped the sound through the restaurant music system anyway, so we had to shout over the commentary, never mind the vuvuzelas. Why bother?
The tablecloth was dirty, the napkins hadn’t been dried properly since being washed and the cutlery still had dried… something… on from the last diner. Or maybe even the one before.
It was poor. Really, really poor.
Look, I don’t mind paying through the nose for a “tourist” thing ever now and again when I’m with tourists. But for that money, I expect better than the dreadful service and tatty surroundings.
The waitress got a R3 tip on a R1,497 bill.
Having said that, she did get a free hint, as well.
The sad thing is that with the World Cup on at the moment, the Waterfront is full of tourists who now think that Karibu “South African Dining” represents the average SA restaurant, when nothing could be further from the truth.
When the biggest benefit for this country from this World Cup is the positive experiences that our visitors have while they are over here and their recommendations of SA as a holiday destination to their friends, family and countrymen, places like Karibu are scoring us a big own goal.