Ambience★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Service★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Food★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Overall, the seasoning is perfect, the meat tender, and the presentation stellar. There are currently only two starter options, as the menu is still being developed: vetkoek with mince meat and chicken livers on roasted bread. However, the portions are so generous, it’s probably wise to skip starters and go straight to the mains. There are a few meat options, so it can get confusing if you aren’t familiar with the dishes – skop (sheep’s head); hardbody chicken (free-range organic chicken that tends to have harder bones and more flavourful meat than the chain grocery store-bought varieties we’re used to); mogudu (tripe); and other more literal descriptors: chicken feet, beef trotters, deboned cow head and oxtail.
For the overwhelmed or indecisive, there are a few platter options, cleverly called ‘Group Hugs’. These serve one to three. You choose a starch (pap, plain samp, samp with beans or steamed bread). Then you choose two to four meat options, depending on the group hug platter you’ve selected. Finally, you have an option of a number of sides – the tasty relishes, salads, and vegetables that accompany every township meal: chakalaka, spinach, atchar, salsa and butternut. The chakalaka could be the best I’ve ever had. The tripe too is cooked to perfection, with plenty of flavoursome honeycomb tripe pieces that seem to just melt in the mouth.
Popular desserts take on a unique spin, with Pitso’s version of a moist chocolate cake named My Africa; his take on the much-loved Peppermint Crisp tart, named Lady Sisulu; and a decadent red velvet cake named Amandla. Ultimately, the steamed bread – fresh, soft and smelling like home – takes the cake.
Local craft brews such as Ukhamba, Afro Lager and Soweto Cherry are par for the course, alongside easy-drinking familiar favourite wines like the Durbanville sauvignon blanc, Boschendal Winemasters chenin blanc, Nederburg Winemasters sauvignon blanc, and Bouchard Finlayson blanc de mer – which are all available by the glass. Pongracz bubblies are served by the glass, too. If you’re a red-wine lover, try the Siwela or Sweet Siwela.
Reservations generally aren’t necessary, but they are advisable because it can get busy, especially when there’s live music. Waitrons are friendly, efficient and knowledgeable about the menu. Small touches like an enamel bowl filled with warm water to wash your hands before eating are not only quintessentially African and thoughtful, but also encourage patrons to eat with their hands – as one should when tucking into this kind of homey fare.
The vibe is very relaxed, with a dynamic mix of patrons – from tourists and couples on dates, to socialites and friends out painting the town red. The music ranges from contemporary Afro-beats and West African dancehall to local house and Afro-pop. Besides the music, artworks of animals in African savannas, framed prints of kente cloth, and waitrons donning traditional Zulu skirts with beading and dashikis all create the impression that this is a spot that celebrates the full African experience. The exposed wooden seating with matching tables interspersed among comfortable couches and a fireplace make this a cosy and welcoming place.
While not yet available, crocodile, warthog and ostrich will soon become staples.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.