Restaurant Review: Salt & Copper

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.

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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.

Wine List

Gin & Cocktails

Pairings & Kids Menu

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.

Setting

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Table decor

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We didn’t stay long, having only hot beverages as we had a reservation for lunch elsewhere.

Hot Beverages

** 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.

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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.

Beetroot Latte & Cappucino

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.

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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).

Price

That’s my R91.00 worth, with a star rating of 2 ½ out of 5.

Review: The Cork and Plunger

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.

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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.

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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

(Emotional) Weekend Whirlwind

I am at the point again that when the phone rings and someone asks, “What are your plans?” I just want to hide.  Partly because I’m a little emotional, but mostly because of The Big Freeze that seems to have taken hold of the Sleepy Hollow Town I reside in; I’d much rather stay holed up in The Cave under my duvet with a book, or a movie.  Elizabeth was having none of it when she called with this very question on Friday last week.  She had been roped into helping a friend’s daughter (a young high-school learner doing photography as a subject) with her project on Saturday.  She’d also kind of already told her friend I’d be more than willing to help too.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was reluctant to get out of bed.  It was cold. And I was out of milk.  Not a good start to my day.  Anyhow, I did the no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up thing and went to Elizabeth’s house.  I’d arranged for a friend, Joy, to do our make-up.  Hell, if I was going to have to be in front of the camera, I didn’t want to look like a washed-out ghost from the 1920’s.  Joy was quite excited to hear that the shoot was Gatsby-themed, because she has always thought of me as “the perfect Gatsby girl”.

My confidence boosted, and my lashes ab-so-lutely gor-geous, Dahling, Elizabeth and I set off the the venue, Deja Vu Vintage House,  where we dressed up in real vintage clothes from the era, right down to pearls, feather boas and cigarette holders.  Once I was all flapped out in my purple frock, it was as if I underwent a complete personality change.  My inner Gatsby-girl took over and I ended up having so. much. fun.

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Elizabeth, the two other ‘models’ and I laughed till our stomachs ached as we waved to random strangers driving past.  The student taking the photos also had quite a few giggles at our antics.  I’m sure the photos are going to be a-ma-zing!

Elizabeth’s elder sister, Olive, had made a delectable curry and rice to ward off Jack Frost’s spell.  I love Indian food, so it was a given that I would stay for dinner.  With a full tummy and a happy heart, I went back to The Cave and slept incredibly well.

Sunday I met up with Charlie at his place where we had a bite to eat, and I showed him how to make a killer fridge tart with 4 ingredients.  I’m a firm believer in few-ingredient cooking, because I deteest pantry shopping almost as much as I hate doing the dishes.

Afterwards we watched two episodes of Elementary followed by a movie called called The Book of Eli.

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One scene (of an attempted rape) triggered a minor anxiety attack in me.  I’ve become increasingly aware that my friends and some family don’t understand my condition, and as a result, don’t know what to expect, nor how to react around me.  The reading I’ve done on high-functioning depression states that sufferers become ninja-level-experts at hiding things.  I surreptitiously (I hope!) popped a chill-pill and curled back on my comfy kick-out chair, snuggled under a blanket.  Barring the upsetting scene, the movie is quite brilliant; with Denzel Washington in the lead, and Gary Oldman as supporting actor, how could it not be?

I will admit, I was feeling drained on Monday, and yesterday still, but today I’m feeling on the up-and-up again.  I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I’m not feeling sprightly, but to continue with one-baby-step-at-a-time.  I’m staying with Eliza and Nathan tonight, and I’m cooking (something I love, but don’t do much of at home, because the stove in The Cave is cursed – every time I cook on it for guests, it cremates the contents of the oven, making them a burnt offering!) On the menu tonight is (you guessed it), a few-ingredient, creamy seafood marinara pasta.

Catch y’all on the flipside!  Have a Wonderful Wednesday 🙂

 

 

 

Hot Wheels for a Hip Misfit… Thanks to Seesig Motors

So, after a break-up or trauma of some sort, most women tend to make a change.  It’s usually a new hairstyle or colour, or a new look.  I’ve done both – the hair y’all have seen and depending on my mood (and the weather), I now don summer scarves with a tailored jacket or rock skinny jeans with heels, as you’ll see later.  I also bought myself a pair of ridiculously awesome Italian boots (a pair of genuine Italian shoes has been on my dream board for a decade or so already!) which arrived today.

I feel good about the person I’m becoming through therapy and recovery and I’m happy with the persona I’m putting forward to the world.  As I said to Charlie earlier this week, apparently life begins at 40; I’m just getting a few months’ head start.  What most women don’t do after a disruption in their life, is buy a car, especially not on a whim.  Or maybe they do?

Seesig

On Monday last week, I sent a well-known car-dealer, Seesig Motors, in our dorp a message that I was in the market for a small car with aircon and power steering and readily available parts, and the budget I had in mind, but that we’d obviously need to check if any bank would be open to financing it.  I wouldn’t be offering my current vehicle, a 2011 Ford Figo 1.4 Ambiente (aka Casper) for a trade-in either, because if I did qualify for the funding, I had a plan up my sleeve.  Much to my surprise, I qualified for a car above the budget and the payment is still affordable enough for me to be able to keep both cars!

Gielie Slabbert, the owner (and a friend) shared the good news, telling me that if I was keen, he could offer me a 2011 Renault Sandero 1.4.  I said I’d be happy to pop into the showroom for a test drive, and he said it wouldn’t be necessary because he would bring the car to me at work (which is a good twenty minutes’ drive one way) so I could take it through its paces.  I was sold by the time I drove back in through the gates.

That same afternoon, I popped into the showroom (after regular business hours) where I was assisted by Elsabé van de Coolwyk.  In a matter of fifteen minutes, we’d gone through the purchase agreement and signed all the paperwork.  I got word from her the next day that the car would be ready for delivery on Friday.

I opted to collect on Saturday, because I decided to give The Toppie and The Bean the use of Casper (which I will continue to pay the repayments and insurance on).  Casper is on loan to them and in the event of anything happening to either The Toppie or The Bean, Casper will be returned to me as per a written agreement between The Toppie and I, because I’ve seen too many people I know get screwed over by family, friends or even local employers.

The hardest part of the whole deal was for me to keep the new car (which will be known as Deadpool from hereon out) a secret.  I eventually couldn’t bear the it anymore and I told Charlie, Chanté, Elizabeth and Eleanor, promising them all an excruciatingly painful death if they breathed a word to anyone.

Saturday morning, I was up early; like a kid on Christmas morning.  Elizabeth’s brother, Patrick, gave me a lift to the showroom where I was greeted with a smile by Fanie, who explained where everything was on the car, which is a good thing, because otherwise, if I’d ever had a flat, I wouldn’t have known that the spare tyre is underneath the car.

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I then went to have my nails done at a new salon that opened close to home called Front de Mer Beauté.  I’m happy with the result, and I think the therapist, Angie, did well considering the size of shoes she had to fill.  I miss Elena though, but we’re getting together in the last week of May just as we promised we would do once a month.

Finally, it was time to execute the surprise of the year.  I got into Deadpool and took the drive out to my folks.  I gave them each a package – The Bean hers first (seat covers) and then I gave The Toppie his (much smaller one), the key to Casper.  For a moment, they were both somewhat confused, but once the penny dropped, there were tears of gratitude, surprise, shock, relief (because honestly, the car The Toppie has now is not the most reliable in the world).

The Toppie and The Bean left The Cave in Casper, and when The Toppie is ready, he can decide what to do with his car.

Gielie, Elsabé, Fanie and the team at Seesig Motors: Thank you seems so inadequate for the appreciation I have for everything you did in helping me to be able to help my parents too.  I will refer everyone I know looking for a vehicle to you, because it’s clear that those entering the showroom may arrive as customers, but they leave as friends.  Wishing you growth and success all the way!

 

 

 

Review: 4 Cousins Bar & Bites

I’ve not reviewed a place in a long time.  Frankly because I’ve not got out much in the last couple of months, and when I have, it’s been to a place known to me.

On Saturday, I took The Bean and The Toppie to lunch for the latter’s birthday (which is today) to a place called 4 Cousins Bar & Bites.  It’s been open for a while, but I’ve only ever driven past.  When The Bean and I were discussing places to go, she asked if we could do lunch somewhere different and we took a risk, which paid off!

The restaurant wasn’t busy when we arrived around lunchtime.  It is tastefully decorated:  cosy, homely and inviting.

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We were seated at a comfortable booth and our needs were seen to by a lovely, friendly waitress called Carlin.

I’m not allowed to consume alcohol with my medication , so I asked for the one of the two non-alcoholic beers on drinks menu and she told me they didn’t have it, but an alternative (not listed on the menu) was available, so I opted for that.

When it came to taking our food order, I was undecided between a chicken wrap or a lettuce burger (you can clearly note I’m serious about my health and fitness again).  Carlin recommended the lettuce burger, telling me that it is what she personally eats most often.

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The Bean ordered a seafood combo which consisted of a fair-sized fillet of hake, nuggets, calamari, chips and a small Greek salad.  I ate the olives and the feta.

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The Toppie opted for a chicken schnitzel which is served with choice of either a cheese-, mushroom or pepper sauce and a choice of two sides, either chips, sweet potato fries, salad or onion rings.  He went the same route as  The Bean.

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As a surprise I ordered jalapeño poppers for him and I to share.  They were well presented and tasty.  The small salad on the side also included some olives and pomegranate rubies (which I love!)

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The food took a while to arrive, but it was clear that it has been freshly prepared and everything was cooked to perfection.  The plates were also hot, which is something I appreciate.  Unless I’m ordering a salad or a chilled consommé, I like my food hot.

The Bean, who hates calamari, gave me what was on her plate, but when she saw my eyes roll back in with pleasure, she had a taste and ate the majority of the strips.  The fish was the best she’s eaten in ages, it just flaked off when touched with the fork.  The Toppie clearly enjoyed his meal as well, because I had to tell him a few times to wipe the pepper sauce off his face.  My burger was tasty, and not heavy as is sometimes the case with a conventional, bunned one.  The mini marshmallows used to garnish the delicious sweet potato fries were a nice touch.

Living in a small town, especially one that is still very much a “holiday” one, I personally am inclined to visit the same places, only going to a different one on the recommendation of someone I know well and whose judgment I trust. In this case I had no such insight on which to base my decision, except a few reviews on Facebook and Tripadvisor from nameless strangers.

All in all, it was a five star experience, from start to end.  The only regret I have is not having enough space for dessert, but… we’ll definitely be back!

 

 

Emotions Running High…

Nikita and I drove to work amidst the sound of chants & sirens, the smell of smoke and what might have been shots being fired.  You see, yesterday a group of angry residents of one of the local informal settlements decided to protest about the apparent lack of service delivery in the area.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you squat, you can’t expect to have services delivered because there is no damn infrastructure in place for said services to be delivered.

Look, it’s not that I am totally unfeeling towards the people – I too have things I am not happy about, but they are small in comparison to the conditions these people must live in daily.  I live in a fairly safe area, far removed from the blue lights, rubber bullets and tear gas, but I am not unaware, nor do I not comprehend that their issues need addressing.  I do feel though that if common sense is a flower that grows in your garden (which it clearly doesn’t with everyone), you would either wait for your state-funded-residence, as so many before you have, and you’d join the ranks of the rest of society that pays (regardless of the amount) for their services.

I am angry though.  Angry that they feel it is okay to damage public property with their tyre burning escapades and torching private dwellings.

Photos from Citizen.co.za and eNCA

Yes, you read right – these criminals razed other peoples’ homes to the ground because they’re not happy about the state of affairs at their own.  I wish I could find these cruel idiots and shake some sense into them, asking them how YOU would feel if someone did this to you, or someone you cared about?!  Where is the logic?  Just this morning we heard from a colleague that had to travel through the hot-zone that a minibus carrying innocent school children had a brick tossed through its window.  Sure, there is a visible police presence, but I think the laws of this country allow the criminals to rape, pillage and plunder while the police have to stand with their hands tied, trying to appear fierce and forceful.  I would even wager that down the line the community may take matters into their own hands because they are also starting to get gatvol.

During the drive, Nikita and I were talking mainly about the fact that we have a compassionate employer, one that empathises with the situation many of the staff find themselves in because of the barbaric acts taking place close to them.  I have a few friends, also employed by local business people and am totally disgusted how they are told “You will come to work or face disciplinary action” or “Fine, stay at home, but just remember, no work, no pay”.  Have these people no compassion whatsoever? Would a better approach to the situation not be “Yes, I know the situation is volatile, but let’s assess it in a few hours, maybe you can come in then?”

Their employees, people I know are often hardworking and sometimes exploited because they are desperate for the pittances they receive as remuneration are now in need, yet understanding from their employers is not forthcoming; these poor souls are not even heard out.  I find myself wondering how such business owners sleep at night.  Is their revenue for the day more important than the life of one of their employees?  In many instances, it appears so.

Again, yes, I get that this protest action is screwing with our already junk-status-economy but being a royal doos to your employees who actually want to be at work but can’t because they fear for their lives tells me you don’t have much wealth in the brain-, or compassion bank.  You should take a leaf out of Richard Branson’s book:

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Soul-Recharching Sunday

So, I did what I said I was going to with my previous post and relaxed.

I had a decent lie-in until after nine, a lazy hot shower at ten and made a decision to go somewhere sunny.  At first I thought of going to the local farmers’ market, but the idea of people put me off.

Armed with my phone (for photo taking purposes only – the data was off so nobody could bug me) I ventured down to the Riviera Hotel, close to my house where I spent some time in the sun, reading Humans, Bow Down by one of my favourite authors, James Patterson.  For a long while I was the only soul there and it was bliss to hear the tranquil ripple of the pool and the river and the ocassional cheep of the wagtails.

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Given that the meds I’m on are somewhat potent, the doctor warned against using alcohol with them, so I opted for a Lime ‘n Soda, because for all anyone else knows, it could have been a vodka 😉

I heard the seagulls squawking, but not overhead.  Turns out, they were having a Mexican stand-off with a cormorant close by.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a seagull just sitting on the water like that.

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The sun got hotter, as did the bergwind, so I moved into the shade, thinking to myself, “You should have brought your bathing costume.” How inviting doesn’t the pool look?

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Hours passed before hunger struck.  I went a little overboard, but when I saw prawns and steak, I knew I just had to order the surf and turf.  It didn’t disappoint!  I’ll definitely be having it again sometime, with a glass of wine!

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Today though, is Monday, and not a regular one… it started with protest action 😦  Every one is on edge and yesterday’s R&R seems like a distant memory already 😦  The only way to rectify that, is to have another Me-Time Sunday, and soon!