As recently cash-strapped restaurant patrons become the new norm, (sometimes restaurants-turned) takeaways that are surviving lockdown need to have even more creative cuisine offerings to be noticed. While creative burger and breakfast options abound, so does a tapas spot, a family-owned pizza joint and a Durban curry specialist.
Salt, Kalk Bay
There’s something about long bar tables that provoke intimacy between strangers. It’s like that at Salt. Social distancing notwithstanding.
Known as a popular tapas spot, the unpretentious, but ambient restaurant magnetises patrons to the sea-facing, open-air bar opposite Kalk Bay’s harbour.
I had my generously-portioned nachos with guacamole starter and cappuccino there while waiting for our takeaway order. My guacamole was generously-portioned, deliciously creamy and the nachos vegan-friendly. If you do similarly, have a latte. You’ll drink it out of a bowl, French-style!
The chalkboard menu offers up an array of dishes, catering to multiple tastes. There’s a pork belly dish and bratwurst for the carnivores and calamari for the pescatarians.
We chose the raved-about butternut ravioli with sage butter and chickpea roti respectively. Munching happily in the car near the beach, it was the simply-wrapped chickpea roti we found truly rave-worthy. A delectable, unidentifiable creamy-spicy sauce was responsible for that.
Our Lindt Chocolate fondant dessert happily surprised us by remaining upright, warm and runny in the biodegradable container – as it should be - by the time we tucked in.
Considering restaurants had only been re-opened recently, there was plenty of activity through Salt’s door. But then, everyone and their dog – quite literally – are welcome at this spot worth its salt.
Saveur, Simon’s Town
If a restaurant is part of a franchise, my experience all too often in the Mother City has been a lukewarm staff attitude and food experience. More so if they’re located in a highly-trafficked tourist spot in a picturesque location.
Not so at Saveur in Simon’s Town, perched on the edge of Simon’s Bay. The charming staff welcome made me wish I’d chosen a sit-down experience instead of a takeaway one. This included a rather tasty vegetarian burger in a mouth-watering mushroom sauce. They all come with onion rings and chips. Burgers are offered in beef or chicken and other creative options on the list include bacon and blue cheese and one with melted cheddar and jalapeno sauce.
There’s a nice handful or more of original-sounding vegetarian nibbles too, including butternut and arancini with rocket and walnut pesto. If you’re an earlier bird, breakfast takeaways could include a creative vegetarian breakfast and a yummy-sounding three-cheese baked mushroom with pesto.
Carnivores can get happy on chicken roulade, barbequed ribs, rump or rib-eye steak. Seafood and fish dishes complete the options.
Folk Café, St James
‘Let them eat cake.’ So said the last queen of France before the French Revolution. And The Folk Café – sandwiched between the mountain and the deep blue sea – mean this in no uncertain terms. If you’ve got a sweet tooth for baked goods and nothing else will do, this veritable breadbasket has to have something to tempt you.
An array of cakes for takeaway includes cheesecake, lemon meringue, chocolate mousse and carrot cake slices. If you’re really big on cake, you can even purchase the entire thing. Like all of the above, this spot also bakes their own bagels and croissants – which apparently have quite a reputation.
If you want something more substantial, pies feeding four, lasagne, roast chicken, creamy tomato soup and broccoli, blue cheese and bacon soup are other options offered.
Sandwiched between the iconic colourful wooden beach huts and on St James train station, the Café has a kids play area. Meaning you can make your selection in peace and minus the kids under your heels. Take care of their appetite later with a kids fish and chips, a burger or chicken strips.
Imperial Gardens, Fish Hoek
Any genuine Indian restaurant or takeaway, by default, usually has the whole family in on your food order. It’s no different at the Imperial Gardens, so expect to be warmly greeted by several generations here.
Originally from Durban, the personable owners, Vash and Des Naraidoo, have owned restaurants both there and abroad. Their most popular menu items are their authentic Durban mutton curries, bunny chows, masala prawns and their masala-layered breyani. What’s more: portions are massive here (1.2kg per dish).
Everything was packaged perfectly, making for a leak-free travel experience. Leaking liquidy foods from containers is one of my pet peeves with takeaways.
Our shared starters of a throat-bitingly hot and sour soup containing chili and ginger – and without the ubiquitous MSG – was just what the doctor ordered. But it was the moreish, light and creamy potato samosa fillings made by Des’s mother-in-law that was addictive. Delectable. Whether or not we dipped them into the equally-delectable accompanying home-made sweet chilli sauce.
My friend had the Tofu and Peas Tikka Masala. I had the same but in the less-sharp and creamier Butter Masala. Both contained paneer and the spices melded beautifully with them in both dishes.
We shared our respective rotis (also made by mom-in-law to perfection) and rice and even got a small carrot salad each. I wouldn’t usually even mention a side salad. But this ‘famous Durban carrot salad with its secret vinaigrette sauce and a hint of chili’ is far from ordinary!
If you hunger for uniqueness in a world of mediocre Indian takeaways, Imperial is it! Encountering more than two addictive dishes in one meal is my instant recipe for a return takeaway.
Our Pizza Place, Valyland, Fish Hoek
Arguably the best pizzas in the Deep South, Our Pizza Place could likely also be the most superlative in customer service. As owner Gerrit van Velze said: “We run our business how we want South Africa to be one day.”
They’re not joking. How many other pizzerias do you know that go to the trouble of investigating customer issues and delivering free pizza to the customer concerned if they find themselves at fault?
It was a cold Saturday afternoon accompanied by the munchies when we decided to thaw out on piping hot pizza takeaways. Slang injected into the humorous pizza menu warmed me additionally – it’s one every self-respecting South African across the cultures should know.
Gerrit recommended two of the most popular pizzas. I ordered the ‘Ja Nee’ – an exotic-tasting brie and fig combo. While my friend’s ‘Aweh’ consisted of butternut, feta, artichoke, spinach, red onion and peppers in a divine balsamic reduction, giving it a special oomph. Bases were baked to perfection.
The ‘Cheese Nyama’, comprising salami, chicken, bacon and ham, the ‘Van’- bacon, avo and feta and the ‘Jislaaik’ – a mix of cream cheese, jalapeno, bacon, feta and guacamole – are other top favourites.
I cannot visually stomach it when a pizza slice is so heavily-laden with topping that it flops all over the place and you struggle to hold it. The Pizza Place has the balance right here, too!
“My brainchild is Bobotie pizza. It’s got a nice ‘zing’ to it,” said Gerrit. Presumably, the same zing Gerrit’s great-grandfather had. He catered for the Kaiser during World War I in Holland.