It’s surprisingly difficult to find simple, tasty South African home cooking at restaurants in this country. And when you do find it, the quality doesn’t always translate so well when done on a larger scale. But new spot @Kate’s Kitchen is serving up home cooking in a tiny space that seats only 30 people. And from the taste of things, the cooks take all the time necessary to prepare food that’ll take you straight back to your mother’s kitchen. Thando Ndabezitha reviews new local favourite, @Kate’s Kitchen in Parktown North.
Oxtail stew is notoriously overlooked in South African restaurants, so it’s wonderful to see that a hearty version – braised in red wine, celery, carrots, onion, tomato and garlic, like mama would prepare it – is one of the many delectable dishes on offer here.
Other home-style favourites include vetkoek filled with beef mince, served as a starter; roasted quarter chicken marinated in an apricot jam marinade – a succulent main dish that comes with a fantastic gravy; creamy pasta with chicken breast, prawns, mushrooms and a cheese sauce made with white wine; and vegan fried rice with tofu. The sides reflect this country’s food heritage – think creamy samp with bacon bits; savoury pap; and seven-colour rice.
A proudly South African peppermint crisp pudding stands out as the dessert of choice, served elegantly in a glass tumbler.
Expect a selection of South African wines that make a regular appearance on wine lists. Spier Signature, Fat Bastard, Delheim Pinotage Rosé and Warwick First Lady are your by-the-glass options for sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rosé, cabernet sauvignon, respectively. Hennessey, Glenfiddich and Moët & Chandon, are among the fairly pricey yet hard-hitting cognacs, champagnes and whisky served here – so, yes, it’s also a definite “let’s meet for drinks” spot.
Because the restaurant’s capacity is so small and the meals seem to be prepared from scratch, the wait for mains can seem quite long. To avoid ‘hanger’, it’s probably best to order a filling starter. Staff can sometimes seem a bit lost when you make inquiries about food preparation or ingredients, but they are affable and helpful nonetheless.
Despite being a small space, the place manages not to feel cramped. Inside, there’s room for greater cohesion to create a particular ambience – the colour scheme might be better suited to a night-time establishment or a hotel lobby. The music choice can also seem strange and out-of-place, with John Legend crooning a little too loudly over the speakers as you try to enjoy a leisurely dinner. There is some really great, simple attention to detail, though.
Vegetarians and vegans won’t be disappointed with the plentiful, moreish options.
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