I’ve been seeing daily ads in my Facebook newsfeed for a place called Sekelbos Restaurant, so decided to take The Bean there yesterday for a light bite. Sekelbos, as explained to us by our polite waitress (whose name I didn’t get) is a type of wood that is said to burn for ages, but never to ash.Continue reading
I took my folks and a follower-friend to a new place that opened its doors during the week called Salt & Copper, based just outside Hartenbos, Mossel Bay.
We were met at the door by the hostess, Samantha, who gave us menus, and said she’d get our waiter. We perused the menus for about 10 minutes. The food options look delicious, with dishes available for both the carnivorous human, as well as the herbivorous ones. The dessert options sound sinfully good too.
There is a extensive wine list, featuring wines for all tastes from local wineries, as well as a great gin selection. There are also gin and wine tastings available as well as pairings for both. Prices are in line with what you would expect to pay at a mid-level to up-market restaurant.
Sadly, the service left us wanting – we tried to get someone’s attention three times to no avail. Eventually our waiter came along and apologized, stating that it was his first day. There were more than enough staff on the floor (many of them behind the counter), but it is clear that some are still very unsure of themselves, and while I understand that teething problems are to be expected, I’ve lived in Mossel Bay long enough to know that bad service is not going to go down well with the often-impatient holiday makers that will be flooding in from up North later this month.
On the positive side:
The quips on the menu: “Unsupervised children will be sold to the circus…” got a chuckle out of me, as did “Champaign ice cubes” because Champaign is a city in the US State of Illonois. Champagne is what I think they meant to say. Proofreading is important, particularly when you’re presenting such a chic, swanky image.
The building itself has an industrial feel about it, but is very stylishly decorated, with various seating options, lovely glassware and striking copper items against dark, charcoal-like walls. It’s hip and trendy.
What’s also great to see is a spekboom (called an Elephant Bush, or in some instances a Pork Bush) in English on each table. It is referred to in many circles as a miracle plant and it is waterwise too, an added bonus given the water restrictions in our area.
We didn’t stay long, having only hot beverages as we had a reservation for lunch elsewhere.
** Menu, Wine, Gin and Hot Beverages Images from Salt and Copper’s webpage **
The tea was served in delightful glass teapots, but there were no teaspoons on the saucers. The only one that received a teaspoon with her drink was the cappuccino-drinker in our group. These small details need to enjoy more attention.
The cappuccino had by my follower-friend was very tasty. My beetroot latte was deliciously hot, but a little too spicy (in comparison with those I’ve enjoyed at establishments in Wilderness and Knysna) for my personal taste. I love the cup in which it was served.
There are play amenities outside to keep kids busy – one for 0-4 years, and another for bigger kids. There is also a large chessboard for those enthusiasts wanting to exercise their strategic brains into a good ol’ checkmate.
I do hope that things will improve, because its close proximity to home and variety of food and drink make it the ideal place to support. Honestly though, if I’m going to pay between R125 and R155 for a main meal, I do expect good service as well and unfortunately, our short experience yesterday left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.
With that said, I am a believer in second chances, so will visit once the Silly Season is over (but it will have to be on a weekend, given the odd operating hours:
Sun-Thurs 08:00 – 17:00
Fri-Sat 08:00 – 22:00
In the Season it will undoubtedly be profitable to trade during these hours, given the setting, but what about the locals who work (both in and out of season) who would like to have an enjoyable dinner during the week?
My suggestion is that the business hours be revisited – possibly open later during the week (my suggestion would be round 10:00 and shut shop at 20:30).
That’s my R91.00 worth, with a star rating of 2 ½ out of 5.
I’ve lived in Mossel Bay for going-on 31 years now. In that time, I’ve seen all kinds of places come and go: B&B’s, stationers, pharmacies, general cafés, clubs, movie houses and restaurants., particularly those of an upmarket caliber, but it appears that the tide may be turning.
As I withdraw from my memory bank, there is one posh place that has stood the test of time. A few years back, another chic, golf-inspired place opened its doors and it appears to be going strong.
More recently though, about two weeks ago, a friend and I visited the newest kid on the block: The Cork and Plunger. As the name suggests, it serves wine and coffee – a vast selection of both.
There is also a range of craft beers and gin on tap available. These drinks can be enjoyed in the comfort of the wine bar on the upper level. The way I would describe the décor upstairs is Gentleman’s Club. With its dark wood tables, comfortable booths, leather armchairs, it is a place to enjoy an aperitif or a post-dinner drink.
If you’re one for a more outdoorsy vibe, you can enjoy a cocktail on the balcony overlooking a portion of the harbour. I’m not a drinker but have sampled both a virgin mojito and strawberry daquiri so far.
If the balcony’s fully occupied, there is a vibey beer garden at the back of the building, with a pool table and a lighthouse-jungle gym for the kids to clamber around on, while you sip on a cold one.
The restaurant downstairs is combines comfortable furnishings with beautiful photographs of many stone buildings in Mossel Bay, lending to the atmosphere of homely comfort, while the white linen napkins, exquisite glassware, weighted cutlery and out-of-the-ordinary crockery remind you that you’re in a classy place.
Food wise there are various menus: Canapés (which I’ve yet to try), breakfast & lunch, and dinner. All the dishes cater to varied tastes, including vegan and gluten-free options. The dinner menu is limited to a few dishes in each category of starters, main courses and desserts. In the first two groups, chicken, meat and fish are catered for. In my opinion this ensures consistent quality of the food served.
To date, during my various visits, I’ve tried the Coq au Vin, which is served with Garlic Mash and Veggies, the Ribeye Steak (which I recommend eating rare to medium-rare at most), with the crispiest baby potatoes I’ve ever had, and Lloyd’s Pork Loin with Peppers & Butternut Risotto. Honestly, I’d love to see that Risotto as a dish on its own too, because it is delicious. Marc’s Lamb Shank appears to be a firm favourite – when I was dining last night, I saw various people enjoying it. Dessert wise, I’ve only had the chocolate mousse, which is a touch too bitter for my personal taste. I’ve had their strawberry cake, which is good, but I’d opt for something less sweet, and more decadent next time, like the Carrot-, or Black Forest ones.
Finally, any place can serve good food, but it’s the added personal attention the patrons receive from both the waitstaff and the management that puts the Cork & Plunger in a league of its own. I’m a firm believer that if a person wears a name badge, it’s an invitation to use their name. To date I’ve been served by Marc, Herschel and Bridget, and when I was there with friends last weekend, Keagan showed us around the beer garden. While referring to someone by name adds an informality to things, it allows for a relaxed experience, which is what I am looking for when I go out, whether alone, or with friends.
With every visit I’ve had to the restaurant, whether just for coffee or a meal, or as has become custom for me, to get some blogging done, both owners Marc and Taha have stopped by my table to say Welcome back or it’s good to see you again.
Nothing is too much trouble for the staff at the Cork and Plunger and that’s the recipe for long term success. Keep up the good work!
I’ve also published this content on Tripadvisor