Brian Lara Rum Eatery was dreamed up by Gert Schoonraad, the same brain behind Mama Thembu, Gin and The Great Dane. The name’s cool but the place has nothing to do with the cricketer, nor his home island of Trinidad. ‘It’s tropical’, as the byline goes. Eat Out critic Marie-Lais Emond pays Brian Lara Rum Eatery a visit.
Price: R100 on average for a main course
Type of food: Caribbean-inspired comfort food
Parking: On 4th Avenue, Linden
Best for: A hugely fun vibe, meeting new people and WiFi work and meetings in the day
Star rating: Food 3, service 4, ambience 3
The nice, short menu features tropical-themed comfort food with splashes of rum. Pineapple salsa appears in bowls on the tables as a welcome snack, served with homemade curly crackers and accompanied by a floral carafe of water and cool tumblers. Brian Lara’s rum-basted rack of ribs is a very big portion and mighty popular, with impressively tender meat and smoky, barbecue flavour. The rum also finds its way into the successful beef burger along with cheddar, oozing juices and saucy fillings, which arrives on a saucepan with a knife plunged through its heart. The salt-and-pepper squid is good, too, even though the tartar sauce is more like seafood mayo-dressing.
There’s also jerk chicken with a sauce of dark caramelised sugar, honey and ginger, and highly recommended fish cakes and sweetcorn fritters with a very good homemade tomato sauce. Sides include coleslaw, a savoury feta-melon salad that might depend too much on the ripeness of the watermelon to work all the time; generously spiced chips; and, deservedly a feature, white rice and black beans.
Have a cocktail for dessert.
Cool down with two rum cocktails made for the slush machines, a real-ingredient pina colada served in a big fat pineapple, and a strawberry daiquiri, gorgeous in a decorative flacon with two straws. Another cocktail exclamation point goes to the great dark and stormy, and you can also expect very worthy and generously poured mojitos, cuba libres and old fashioneds. There are beers and the wine list is short and punchy, ranging from The Garland cabernet sauvignon, costing a couple of thousand, to the house white of Simonsberg sauvignon blanc for just over R100. For celebrations, Brian Lara stocks Moët and Steenberg.
The professional Mike Ngwenya is politely serious about the guests’ enjoyment as he goes one step further than necessary, even when the place is packed to the boat-laden rafters. He remains calm and advises wisely.
Banana trees and potted palms punctuate the dark-wood floor at Brian Lara Rum Eatery, and pineapples feature in a good few places, like on the bar-stool covers, in neon signs, and at the mosaic-tiled bar, where they’re filled with liquids. The décor nods to the tropics with a comfy old beach-house aspect and a wall of waterskis. An airy front stoep sorts out the smokers from the rest. By night this space and the interior get very full of younger people; by day the laptops are out along the wall with plugs and, on the other side of the 100-seater, it’s a more casual, beer-drinking crowd. Brian Lara Rum Eatery functions as different things to different people, being open for lunches, coffees, drinks and dinners – but it’s always fun.
You should always phone to make a booking, even during the day.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.