16 November 2016
Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room
133 Bree Street, City Bowl (15 minutes’ walk)
I wanted to love this venerable Cape Town institution I always see packed with die-hard fans. It’s heart-warming to witness places that withstand the test of time and challenge of ever-trendier competitors opening around them. Sadly, it is not to be . . .
It’s basically a pub – with staple bites one looks for at a pub: burgers, fried chicken, mac & cheese and a few salads and snacks. But they do feature oysters – a personal favourite – so ears perk up at this. But oysters generally being a food group afficionados feel strongly about, wait staff let us down being uniformed about the source, size or consistency of the oysters on offer. If you’re going to serve oysters: do it right! The accompanying mignonette was well done and a nice touch, but any staff anywhere serving oysters need to know their product: our sample dozen were too milky for my taste, despite assurances from the kitchen (after checking) to the contrary.
The fried chicken is suitably crunchy and tender, if slightly oily (it is a pub, after all), but burger dry and only just passable, while salad was uninspired (well, fair enough: who orders salad at a pub?). But the evening was traumatically capped (for this insect-phobe) by the ill-timed visitation of a giant cockroach who could not be persuaded to move on: this is nothing to do with Clarke’s – we are sitting outside in Cape Town on a warm and sunny evening, so perfect roach conditions and just an unlucky encounter topping off a lacklustre dining experience.
Since our visit, Clarke’s has been in the news for other reasons – nothing to do with the food, but an apparent incident of racial tension for which it is apparently renowned. Hmmm . . .
Telephone: +27 (0) 21 424 7648
Lunch: 12:30 – 14:30
Dinner: 19:00- 11:00