La Perla

Old Mutual Building, Beach Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa • +27 21 439 9538 • laperla.co.za

If you should ever find yourself in Cape Town and you are staying at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, affectionately known as “The Nelly” and realistically known as “an old folks home,” do NOT ask them for restaurant recommendations because they will send you to places like this.

La Perla is a tourist trap located near the water, offering little more than friendly service that knows how to cater to visitors like myself and a view of the water. But friendly service in Cape Town is fairly common and sadly they didn’t have the food to back them up.

It starts off promising, however, with a decent bread basket and a capable beef carpaccio that will lull you into thinking you are in for a treat. But then the flavorless caprese salad comes and you realize you’re not in Kansas anymore.

And then everything turns South with a seafood platter that is impressive in size only. To give you an idea of just how big this thing is, it could handily feed 10 people without any other course accompanying it. So don’t let them oversell you on it, because it is a waste of food and money. Not to mention it depletes the ocean’s crustacean population.

Also be wary of anyone who tells you that he linguini with clams is the way to go. Unless you are going to spit out, I suppose. I’ve had a Lean Cuisine version that rivals it.

Shockingly, as a closer, the chocolate cake was actually killer good. Less shocking, however, is that the pineapple coconut dessert was par for the course.

Two Oceans

Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, 7975, South Africa • +27 21 780 9200 • https://www.two-oceans.co.za

This place is quite literally living on the edge, nestled into the side of a rocky cliff, overlooking the Cape of Good Hope (pictured). As a result, the views are absolutely stunning, and although it’s as touristy as all hell, they somehow manage to pull things off with a modicum of class. I might even go so far as to say it just might be one of the best on site tourist trap restaurants I’ve ever been in.

Our lunch began with our charming waiter, Lovermore taking our order and making strong recommends, for which I couldn’t love Lovemore more (I know it sounds like something out of the movie “Superbad,” but I shit you not that this was his real name, or at least what he goes by and appears on his nametag).

Per Lovemore’s suggestion, we opened with a refreshing bottle of a South African Chenin Blanc and a dozen oysters that were awesome sauce. This was then chased by the giant prawns, which were buttery beyond belief, in a good way (for taste buds, not arteries).

The caprese salad was quite enjoyable as well, although the biscuit they serve with it, while also tasty, was extraordinarily hard to cut. In fact even Durst with a bone saw might find this to be a challenge.

The only out and out miss was the Turkish Delight cheesecake for dessert. I guess I was homesick for my home away from home and paid the price dearly, because it was disgusting. But I’ll gladly take the heat for this one, because I shoulda listened more to Lovemore. God, I love the wordplays with his name.

I also love the fact that this place manages to buck expectations and temptations to phone it in and be just another touristy cafe that has you by the balls since there’s nowhere else to eat. Good on ya, Two Oceans. For that alone I give you two thumbs up.

The Windmill

Chorio, Symi, Greece • 69 55 97 36 95

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It’s worth all 400 steps that it takes to get there. Located in an old windmill, of course, perched high above the town. Sadly, only the cooks are actually inside the windmill itself. Patrons are seated in a small semi-circle of about a dozen tables around it. And while one might expect incredible views from such a height, it is much to the contrary. The tables all face toward the back street, which has its charms I suppose, if you like watching the locals pass by, along with a few street cats.

But what the mill lacks in view it makes up for in spades once the food hits the table, which admittedly can take a while. But when the food comes out this good, I’m happy to let them take their time. No need to rush to failure.

Not a single miss was served. The avocado hummus was wonderfully creamy and fresh. Blended to order and as good or better than anything I’ve ever had.

Doubling down on the chickpeas, we also got a spicy dish as well, seemingly Moroccan inspired and Greek nailed. One bite and you knew these ladies weren’t playing around. Same goes for the spicy steak and vegetables, only this dish seemed to garner its influence more from Thai cuisine. Loaded with such wonderful flavors I was willing to overlook that the meat was a bit on the overdone side.

And then came the crème de la crème, or should I say the crème de la prawn? Basking in a bourdon and saffron cream sauce these crustaceans practically evaporated from the plate. As did the sauce. Worth an order of bread unto itself just to sop it up.

Even dessert was sensational. The whiskey chocolate tart and the lemon cake were both so different, yet equally impressive at seducing their respective places on your tongue. Tart and sweet and texturally gratifying as well. The lemon cake almost had a nut or ricotta-like quality to it. I would’ve examined it further had I not been so busy scarfing it down.

Then came the shocker. The bill. But it’s not what you think. First of all, it’s VERY reasonable for such artistry. So that was a bit shocking. So was the fact that they don’t take credit cards and we were a touch low on Euros, even with the modest pricing. Luckily the owner was so nice he allowed us to pay through our hotel, otherwise I would still be washing dishes as opposed to typing this review.

5 teeth