Eat Out critic Hennie Fisher tries out Pretoria’s newest Portuguese restaurant, Ozé Café & Bistro in Hazelwood.
Best for: Cocktails with friends and big, sociable meals with the family
Average price for a main course: R120
Serves: Traditional Portuguese with some modern dishes
Star rating: Food 4, ambience: 4, service: 4
Although the debate about the differences between South African Portuguese food and what is loosely referred to as Mozambican food has not yet been settled, fans continue to enjoy the staples they’ve learnt to love at their favourite local Portuguese restaurants, such as chicken livers, trinchado, espetada, bacalhau, prego, LM prawns and many more. It is particularly lovely to find some of these firm traditional favourites, as well as a few reworked modern Portuguese offerings, in a fresh, trendy setting like Ozé. Gone are the black and red cockerel, the rough plastered walls and wine bottles with dripping candles.
Ozé offers a good, fuss-free selection of meat cuts, such as T-bone that is simply grilled without any of the ubiquitous sweet basting sauce favoured by so many South African restaurants, instead offering an elegant butter sauce or fiery peri-peri sauce on the side. Sides include chips, a Portuguese salad or Portuguese rice – and all of this at a bargain price of R95.
You can order the bitoque either with rump or fillet, served in a small cast iron dish with the fried egg on top, perfectly cooked and delicious. Ozé also serves a bang-on octopus salad; some very creative sandwiches such as sandes de chouriço with Terra Nostra cheese; and rabanada (like Portuguese French toast) with strawberries, bacon, maple syrup and mascarpone. All in all, the menu is lovely, and suited to both lunch and dinner.
While the wine list is in the process of being finalised, you can make do with a selection on the chalkboard. There are three Barton Vineyard bottles as the house wines – red, white and rosé – and a few others available per glass. White wines include Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 7; Saronsberg Provenance Earth in Motion and Barton sauvignon blanc/semillon blend, while the reds include Protea Merlot and Hermanuspietersfontein Posmeester. For those wanting to drink Portuguese wines, they also have a red, a white and a rosé from Casal Garcia available.
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Owner Marco Ferreira, his manager and wait staff are all friendly, accommodating, well trained and hands on. It’s quite obvious that all the staff have extensive experience in the hospitality industry. Although the restaurant is still fairly new, it’s already jam-packed most evenings and things should soon settle into a familiar rhythm.
The large open space on ground level is dominated by a central bar clad in blue-and-white Portuguese tiles. The large, open-air cocktail area upstairs is referred to by the waiters as the ‘sky bar’, which is decked out in a mix of glamorous bar furniture. (The plan is to develop this into a gin bar in future.) Towards the back is a cosy area with banquette seating, and there’s another outside space for larger parties to have some privacy. The interior is contemporary with nods towards Portugal, which should speak to both a younger and more mature clientele.
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Apart from delectable pastéis de nata, there’s a range of other baked goodies on display on the bar counter to be enjoyed with a delicious Illy cappuccino. Ozé bakes all its own breads in-house, so you can look forward to some soft floury white rolls to dunk into your chicken-liver gravy.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.