There’s a new restaurant supposed to be opening in Gabs soon and I think I’ve lost the will to live. You might very well think that sounds like a contradiction in terms. Let’s face it - we’re not exactly spoiled for choice right now. There’s a sameness about the menus pretty much everywhere you go to eat that makes me want to scream.
More accurately, it makes me want to stay at home and cook myself. Steak and chips, fish and chips, chicken and chips, pizza, fried calamari rings, crumbed mushrooms, peri-peri chicken livers and lasagne – that’s about it. It’s as though there’s a big book of rules somewhere that says that lot is compulsory if you want to run a restaurant in Gabs.
And guess what, I can manage all of those in my own kitchen, most of them a lot better than the offerings I’m served up as a paying customer. My peri peri chicken livers have coriander and bay leaves and are finished off with a generous splash of brandy, my home-made chips come from raw potatoes, not a packet in the freezer and my fish batter might be tempura, beer, egg or any combination of all those, depending on what I’m battering and how I feel.
In terms of international cooking we have Italy represented by Primi but that’s a franchise of a South African chain so it doesn’t quite count, Brazil from Rodizzio, if we are to believe that all Brazilians exist on a diet of mountains of meat a couple of Indian and Sri Lankan joints and the inevitable Chinese chop shops. From North Africa there’s the Abyssinian but that’s more of a café with a fairly limited menu and I think that’s it as far as foreign food is concerned.
France, the home of haute cuisine and birthplace of gastronomy remains completely unrepresented, as do Spain and Portugal, despite the local Mozambique connection. Northern and Eastern Europe simply don’t exist. And we don’t even have a place where we can sample our own regional food – that amazing marriage of east and west that produced the subtly-spiced Cape Malay cookery with its bredie, bobotie, sosaties, frikkadels and the like.
So if a new foreign restaurant were to open, I’d take any of the above just to get away from the inevitable dull-as-ditchwater and about as tasty offerings from our current list of eateries. And were it to be French, Spanish or true Italian I’d scarcely be able to contain my excitement. Sadly, though, there’s only disappointment in store.
As I said earlier, I’m about to take a gun to my head with the news that the afore-mentioned new restaurant, to be opened in the Grand Palm Hotel is… wait for it… yet another Chinese.
Seriously, guys, did we really need that? If you wanted to augment the Beef Baron and the Buffet, is that the best and most original you could come up with? Last time I looked there was already one a stone’s throw away in the Bonnington complex and how much more soy sauce, MSG, chop suey and chopsticks can this town take?
I think I’m going to cry. From restaurants to fast-food joints on which my views are well-known. I wish I had the powers to ban every greasy fried-chicken outlet in town. The sight of customers sucking away on scrawny chicken bones washed down with paper cups of fizzy cola in Game City is enough to put me right off my shopping and the fact that it seems to be frequented as a family treat is frightening.
I’m seeing a generation of podgy kids growing up and it’s a multi-cultural problem – African, Asian and European alike. And if they’re not gorging out of a bucket at Kentucky, they’re wolfing down fatty fries and burgers at Wimpy. I’m told that there’s a noticeable increase in childhood diabetes locally due to poor diet and lifestyle so if you think you’re being kind to your kids with a trip to these greasy spoons, think again.