The Forkies owners, Andries Volschenk, Marnus Hendrikse and Anthony Wingfield, share with us their vision of a post-apocalyptic world, where food is produced and consumed ‘on the move’, with resources that are found in your immediate surrounds. At Forkies, that means fine dining, fancy plates and micro herbs make way for hearty, wholesome food.
To support their concept, they have commissioned two large, mobile, wood-fired pizza ovens. Finely tuning the heat in these behemoths is critical to produce the small selection of their trademark slow-cooked bakes, Cuban-style pressed sandwiches called Cubanos (sandwiched between the floor of the pizza oven and a heavy roasting tin) and pizza-pies. The portions are satisfying and comforting. They’re very keen on slow food, where flavours develop over an extended period of cooking.
Under the bakes section, items like gem squash con carne – two pre-baked halves filled with chilli con carne and a dollop of sour cream, baked in the wood-fired oven and served with a scoop of fresh avocado – should satisfy any appetite. They also do a butternut version, and a good old-fashioned mac and cheese with three cheeses, sour cream, and the option of adding salami.
The Cubanos include various versions: the original, filled with smoked pulled pork shoulder, smoked ham, gruyère, grainy mustard and pickles; a meatless version, with caramelised baby butternut slices, balsamic roasted beet wedges, crushed pecan nuts, sautéed red onions and smoked mozzarella; and a delicious slow-roasted teriyaki chicken with Japanese mayo and mozzarella. All are made with rolls baked in-house, wrapped in tinfoil before being toasted, and then served in greaseproof paper wrappers.
The pizza-pie is a satisfying, half-moon-shaped pie made with pizza dough and baked next to smoking logs of wood for a delicious, smoky flavour. The slow-roasted brisket pizza-pie with butternut, mozzarella, caramelised onion and herbed tomato is a favourite.
Giving a glimmer of hope that a post-apocalyptic world might not be all doom and gloom, Forkies even manages to make a daring little chocolate-peanut-butter cheesecake as well as chocolate brownies in the pizza oven, both of which are decadently rich and satisfying.
Their liquor licence application is still in progress, but they’re planning to stock an interesting selection of beers and wine, as attested by the current selection of non-alcoholic beverages such as Onze Jan Hops Beer 0%, Gudgu ginger beer and Double Shot tea selections, including a white tea flavoured with passion and peach, rooibos-based pineapple-and-ginger tea, and strawberry white tea.
They do not serve espresso-based coffees, taking great pride in their Serra Negra Cerrado pour-over coffee, also sourced from Double Shot. There’s a lovely little stand with conical copper drip tunnels where the pour-overs are made. Only enamel mugs are used throughout the restaurant. According to these guys, an enamel mug is the ultimate equaliser – when the world comes to an end, everyone will have to sip their tipple from a blikbeker.
The service is relaxed and easy. Food is unceremoniously served on kitchen parchment in rectangular white and blue enamel dishes; even dessert is served the same way, with just a spoon. Although this is basically a self-service restaurant where orders are meant to be placed and collected at the counter, the owners are very hands-on and may well deliver and clear orders, even if only to make small talk with guests.
Even though the interior is meant to suggest a repurposed space somewhere in the future shortly after the destruction of our current civilisation, careful attention has gone into creating that look.
Exposed light bulbs are strung from the ceiling, along with old-fashioned plugs to charge electronics in case of load shedding, and aircon ducts and other utilities are purposely exposed. The kitchen is separated by some innovative metal and piping screens, and the loo – in black and gold – harks back to the glamour of a long-forgotten time.
High tables and stools make for comfortable but informal eating, and outside on the sidewalk an old Ventertjie stores wood for the pizza ovens. While this venue would not score points for romance or delicate tastes, the food is homely and satisfying and might be just the right spot for an easy meal with friends.
The two huge pizza ovens – the one kept at a constant 110°C for slow cooking and the other at a much fiercer 250°C – are used to produce delights that can be eaten there or ordered to take home, such as seven-hour roast chickens or nine-hour pork belly. The space is also ideal for smaller parties, where you could book out the entire restaurant and treat a group of like-minded friends to a yummy meal that can be eaten by hand.