Saltwater Grill

They say there is a first for everything, and this is my first post about a meal I had during my lunch break on a working day.

My offices are based in Ndabeni which means that Howard Centre is the neighbourhood shopping mall. I was in the mood to have seafood and suggested to my colleague that we eat at Saltwater Grill.

As it was our lunch break, time was of the essence. Once we were showed to our seats and handed the menu, we immediately started sprawling and made our decision quite quickly. After ordering to our surprise we realised we missed a few pages of the menu with even more options. If seafood is not your thing, not to worry, they also have salads, burgers and pastas and some very yummy sounding dessert options.

I decided to order from the tantalizers and opted for the Grilled Baby Calamari and Portuguese Style Prawns on a stick. My colleague ordered the Grilled Hake with real lemon butter and a salad.

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Words and pictures do not do justice to the mouth-watering delicious tastes of our meals. My baby calamari (which did not seem baby) was grilled to perfection but the best part was that it was made with a herb and lemon sauce. If anyone knows me well enough, you will know that I simply love cooking with fresh herbs and whole spices so this was a big win for me. The dish was also served with what they say is a small side salad but the portion was pretty decent. The prawns in the Portuguese sauce was finger licking good (yes, I ate this with my hands and enjoyed all the flavours). I was a bit sad by the time I finished them. My colleague’s meal looked like a work of art: I do not think I have ever seen a salad look so pretty. It was served in a shoe string potato style ring and topped with edible flower as part of the presentation.  Her fish was done in a fresh lemon butter style and was grilled to perfection.

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The setting is very loci yet very comfortable. There is an outside area that they had covered with simple décor adding to the ambiance. The food is so good that you forget you are at Howard Centre.

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Well done Saltwater Grill! You definitely will be seeing me again.

Keep a look out for a competition that I will be running on my Instagram page (myrestaurantdiary). Please do follow me to follow my journey of food.

 

Scheckter’s Raw

Yet again sometime has passed since my last post but that is only because I have been on a very strict cleanse and watching what and where I eat.

Last week Sunday was too beautiful not to make the most of the day so I was happy when I found out about Scheckter’s Raw, a gourmet health food restaurant situated in Regent street, Seapoint.

Scheckter’s is a vegan and vegetarian cafe serving the healthiest tastiest meals but also freshly squeezed and natural organic juices and smoothies. Their menu covers a variety, whether breakfast or lunch or even just a snack.

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It was lunch time and I was famished by the time we arrived at the Scheckter’s Raw. It is situated on the corner and welcomes you in with a fresh look with their wooden furniture, smiling staff and plants on the side.

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I sat down while deciding what I wanted as take away. It took me a while to order as too many items on the menu were tantalizing my taste buds. Eventually I opted for the Lentil Gluten Free wrap.

I must admit that I was a bit skeptical not knowing how it was going to taste especially because I ordered the gluten free wrap. Opening the brown bag packaging on the beach I was welcomed to a brown fluffy wrap filled with lentils and served with a small side salad.  I was pleasantly surprised when I took my 1st bite… it tasted absolutely delicious. It was the best feeling: clean ocean air, perfect company and my tummy smiling from the inside out. Before I knew it my food was all gone. It was just too good not to indulge all at once.

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Scheckter’s Raw I will certainly be back to try your breakfast and organic beverages.

To everyone reading my posts, even if I don’t post often enough please do check out my Instagram page called My Restaurant Diary. I try to post every week. Also do stay tuned as I will be running a competition soon.

 

La Belle Bistro & Bakery

It’s been just over two months since my last post which is inexcusable but there is a valid reason for the most part.

Since my amazing Asia sibling vacation I had an operation on my right hand, my dominant hand which meant for nearly one month I was unable to do normal things. The rest of the time was playing catch up on life itself.

Nonetheless, I am back to wet your appetites with my food experiences.

There is no better way to get back into the swing of things than a post about a delicious breakfast with a girlfriend. The venue was the recently opened La Belle in Mouille Point

This laid back spot right next to Pepenero caught my attention one evening after hours when I peeked through their window and found myself quite curious as their front confectionery area caught my eye with their décor alone. This morning I decided to answer my curiosity.

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La Belle

The air was chilly this morning in Mouille Point but walking into La Belle we were instantly warmed with the atmosphere, décor and delicious aromas. I loved the warm feeling I felt as we were escorted to our table nestled at the back. There was something special about the dark wooden furniture, unfinished walls, and an array of clocks mounted on the walls.

After being seated our waiter introduced himself and timeously presented us with their ‘newspaper’ style menus. They are strict that only breakfast items can be ordered till 11.30 am but alas this was no problem for us foodies.

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I ordered the salmon eggs benedict with eggs done medium. My girlfriend ordered the 2 cheese omelet which is served with a choice of 4 breads. She opted for ciabatta. The presentation of both dishes was simple topped with rocket leaves for a bit of colour.

I was very happy with my choice of medium eggs as the consistency was perfect. The hollandaise sauce which is not something everyone can master was delicious. I was surprised how quickly I finished my meal which is testament to how good it was. Compliments to the chef!

La Belle I will without a doubt be back. I need to try your sweet goodies and the lunch menu looked too good to miss.

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Eggs Benedict

Banana Leaf Cafe

Its been nearly two months since my last post but that’s because it was Ramadaan and soon after Eid was my long awaited sibling vacation to Asia.

I am currently posting from Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), the old capital called Saigon. If you interested check out the #siblingvacay on Instagram to follow my trip. You might find yourself experiencing some jealousy as it is summer and Vietnam is absolutely stunning and rich in history and natural beauty.

It is hard to decide what to blog about as most of our food experiences has been local cuisine. In a nutshell this has been our food journey in Vietnam:

* Meal in a buzzing local street restaurant in Ninh Binh after a scenic tour of Halong Bay on land in Hanoi

* Hoi An Village local meal at a cafe along the Hoi An River

* Cooking tour in the heart of a village in Hoi An where we made a three course traditional meal

* Local restaurant in the Imperial City of Hue

* Halal meals found in whats called the “Malaysian Street” in Ben Thanh area, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

The meal that tickled my taste buds the most was at Banana Leaf Cafe(Cafe La Cluioi) along the banks of the Hoi An River in the historical town of Hoi An. I never expected authentic Vietnamese cuisine to create so much fireworks with all its flavours. As we were on a tour the set meal was already preselected by our amazing hotel Sofia in Danang. The set menu consisted of these 7 foods:

1. Vegetable Curry and garlic bread
2. Banana Flower Salad with prawns
3. Griller fish in banana leaf
4. Saute sweet & sour calamari
5. Fried green beans
6. Steamed rice
7. Fresh fruit salad

The veggie curry reminded me a lot of Thai cuisine as the flavour was pretty much the same. It consisted of sweet potato which was purple of colour and harder than we used to, potatoes and carrots. The next dish was a banana flower salad with prawns and served with rice paper. Banana Flower Salad was my favourite, like the name says it consisted of the bottom flower which looks a bit like onion. It also had noodles, grated carrots, amazing flavours and topped with sesame seeds and fried onions. I mastered eating this with chopsticks.

Next up was the griller fish which was served wrapped up in a banana leaf. The flavour that the banana leaf pulled through was surprisingly extremely tasty. The fried green beans was normal shoe string beans served as a side dish. The last main meal was the calamari which was the typical tastes of Chinese sweet & sour. This was accompanied with steamed rice grown in Hoi An very own rice fields. Lastly dessert was a plate of fruit consisting of the Vietnam fruit dragon fruit. It doesn’t have much taste, but the more you eat it, it develops a unique taste like a melon. The other fruits were the sweetest watermelon and banana.

If you ever find yourself in Hanoi please do visit Banana Leaf Cafe. Vietnamese are very dependant on tourists and their contribution to the local businesses.

 

Peaches & Cream

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but that is just a sign of a busy life where time escapes you. I am pleased to be writing this post feeling completely relaxed and pampered. I took much needed time out and literally escaped to the mountains, to Paarl to be exact. After checking out of the beautiful Sante Hotel & Spa we went exploring and came across a wine farm called Vendóme.  At the end of the beautiful drive in which is surrounded by vineyards we found the perfect gem called Peaches & Cream.IMG-20160301-WA0019

I felt like I parked my car literally in the vineyards. As we walked towards the entrance, it felt like we were entering a beautiful farm style home with a magnificent entrance garden setting the scene. Peaches & Cream personifies the word vintage. Walking through the restaurant, which felt more like a farm stall I immediately felt a feeling of peace come over me. As it was a beautiful day in the Winelands we were escorted outside to their pretty garden which provides lots of shade. We made ourselves quite comfy under what looked like a grandpa tree. My best friend and I literally just relaxed for more than an hour before ordering any food. The place itself is truly tranquil!IMG-20160301-WA0007.jpg

As lunch time creeped up I decided to keep it light and be adventurous. I ordered the Salmon Avo & Orange Salad. The salad consisted of salmon, lettuce, red onions, feta, capers, oranges and fresh lemon dressing. I was initially a bit sad to hear that they had no avo’s due to the scarcity. My disappointment was quickly forgotten when the salad arrived. I would never have paired salmon and orange, but the culmination of the flavours and the homemade lemon dressing was so refreshing. I loved every forkful of the zesty flavours!

Peaches & Cream your menu reflects that “love in your tummy feeling”. I also love the fact that you have a quaint indoor venue that can be hired out for functions.

If you are in the Winelands, I strongly suggest you visit Peaches & Cream, just not on a Monday as that is the only day that they are closed. I will definitely be making the journey back into the Winelands especially to try some of your other food items.

Peaches & Cream all the best welcoming visitors with your tranquility!

 

 

Nooka Café

Last night’s food journey was all about the Sabich (pronounced “sabitch”), car parker, spokesman and decoration. This means a night of being chauffeured with my cousins and niece. Our destination for the evening was a vegetarian taste of the Middle East found in the heart of the CBD.

Nooka Café welcomed us with friendly staff. In true café style, it is intimate but comfy with enough seating, a clean, natural ‘artsy’ kind of decor. Their menu option ranges from all day breakfast, main meals, salads and light snacks. They also offer fresh juices, smoothies and for the health conscious, health drinks. I decided to try the Refresh which is made with coconut milk, pineapple, banana and honey. They were kind enough to omit banana for me. This health drink is indeed true to its name, it was very refreshing with the pineapple flavour dominating.

Before ordering our mains we decided we wanted to nibble on something first and opted for the Nooka Cheese Balls. These were mushrooms topped with cheese balls (you could taste the variety of cheeses used). The cheese balls were served with the best tasting garlic aioli dressing I have ever had. I had the Sabich on a Plate; roasted eggplant base, topped with layers of Nooka tomato salsa, sliced baked potato, sliced boiled eggs with Tahinni dressing and served with sweet potato crisps. The best meal was my nieces, she ordered the Falafel Sandwich which was made out of lentil falafel balls.  The food was well presented on wooden boards but more than that it tasted fresh and delicious. Being a fan of sweet potato I was impressed that most of their dishes are served with sweet potato crisps.

I love that Nooka Café has a very comfortable and informal atmosphere suitable for a meal or a snack. I will definitely go back to try their salads and homemade humus.

Nooka is perfect for those night owls with hunger cravings as they close at midnight from Monday till Saturday (open from 8am). They are also very reasonably priced. Go check them out!

All the best Nooka Café!

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Four & Twenty Cafe and Pantry

After a good Sunday morning workout session in Maynardville Park we felt ravenous! My friend and I chose the perfect breakfast place that made us feel like we were entering a French sidewalk cafe. As it was my 1st time at Four & Twenty, I did not know what to expect about the food nor the place itself.

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Who would have thought this quaint cafe situated in Wolfe Street, Wynberg, and yes Wynberg in a very pretty road alongside the park would be that popular. Upon our entrance we were informed that there is a waiting list and a table should become available within thirty to forty minutes. We politely agreed to wait as the ambiance of the place sucked us in. Asking to use the ladies room while we wait gave me the perfect opportunity to explore. Four & Twenty is a classical house that was transformed into this delicious smelling cafe with a combination of vintage and quirky decor. Walking past the toilets which were themed I stumbled across an intimate courtyard away from the hustle in the main cafe. We then realised why it was called a pantry as we came across a well situated wall packed with local produce and artisanal goods for sale. This brought us back to the front of the cafe where the hostess informed us that they have a table ready. It was definitely our lucky morning because this was less than ten minutes from the time we arrived. Walking to our seats in the front diner style counter which faced the road and looked right into Maynardville Park, we made ourselves comfortable and I immediately noticed some more quirkiness with the lighting which was individually placed in those old school rice strainers.

After settling in and receiving our well deserved caffeine consumption for the day, we started chatting away like females do only to have a laughing fit due to a flying heart (the miniature piece of confectionery art placed on a teaspoon). After containing ourselves and relieved that it didn’t fly into someone’s food or hair we started browsing through the menu which has a picture of “Sing a Song for Six Pence” on the front cover. I felt this picture was a perfect choice as the menu simply sings to you with the host of options ranging from breakfasts, lunch, light meals and unique savouries and sweet delights ( for my Muslim community please note that the cafe is not halal, but there are a host of choices). It was evident that the owners spent a lot of time not only on the place itself but the food too. It was extremely difficult making a decision, I decided to opt for something different and ordered the Eggs Be- Lean, two free-ranged poached eggs on an aubergine, mushroom and truffle rosti with confit baby tomatoes and light yoghurt hollandaise. Wow, reading exactly what I ordered is a mouthful in itself that only cost me R80. While waiting for our food, I looked around and found myself eyeing their confectionery counter with a feeling of ‘love in my tummy’. The hunger pains started building and then our food arrived which was served like a plate of art. Every bite of my eggs felt like a gastronomic experience. The combination of poached eggs, mushrooms, aubergine and yoghurt hollandaise complemented each other so well my palette felt like it was celebrating. One thing is for sure from Four & Twenty and that is Love…. the love for good food!

I was impressed to find out that my first impression as a French sidewalk cafe was accurate as the owners, two friends; both trained Grande Diploma Cordon Bleus chefs manifested their dream of Four & Twenty at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Well done ladies, your dream has evolved into a masterpiece!

I cannot wait to go back to try the Plum Frangipane Flapjacks.

Next time I will be making a booking and requesting the courtyard seating. Till then, keep sharing your love Four&Twenty!

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Tea Under The Trees

This beautiful gem found in the heart of the Winelands, Paarl to be exact is so true to its name. It is a tea garden where you zone out from the everyday hustle and bustle and literally have tea under the trees. My 1st experience left me feeling like I never want to leave. You forget about time when you in the garden and focus on the beauty and all that there is to take in and not forgetting the delicacies to indulge in. Tea Under the Trees takes on the inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, it also reminded me of the secret garden, with the greenest lush grass, huge trees, benches to relax on or in my case to pose for a photo and so many different shades of well trimmed flowers in the garden. There is even a mini orchard on the one side and sheep grazing in the grass (okay they not real, its beaded sheep, but such beautiful crafted local art).

My 1st experience was for one of my best friend’s birthday breakfast. We fell so in love with the place that we decided to make Tea Under the Trees our birthday breakfast special outing. My next visit to the majestic garden was for my birthday. Yet again, my experience was special. We arrived for breakfast at 9.30 am (the garden opens at 9 am Mondays to Fridays and closes at 4 pm). The adventure began from the moment we parked in between the vineyards. Walking to the garden on a path made from tiny stones we passed the cutest vintage kids party and the quaint play area for the children. We were welcomed with friendly smiles and showed to our table which was perfectly situated at the start of the greenest stretch of grass that screamed for the kids to go running. Looking into distance all you see is greenery, chandeliers hanging from the trees and all kinds of flowers. At this stage my tummy started rumbling. The garden is not Halaal but that was not a problem as there are still a few options for us to choose from. Our breakfast consisted of freshly homemade scones served with jam, cheese and butter and toasted tuna & mayo on homemade brown bread. We were so hungry we devoured our food but that was also a sign that we enjoyed every bite of it. After breakfast we went exploring in the garden, ran around, and checked out the vintage shop, walked at the back of the colonial – styled house where they cook all the food. This felt a bit like a walk through the museum with all the antique equipment. The best part of the walk-about for the kids was coming across the trampoline in an area where the swimming pool is. Naturally the child in me convinced myself to go jumping.

After walking off and jumping off our delicious breakfast, 3 hours had flown by and it was time to bid the garden farewell. That is what I love most about Tea Under the Trees, you lose yourself to the beauty of the place, you forget about all your worries, you unwind and enjoy what you have around you. Tea Under the Trees I will be back to try your yummy desserts and homemade ice tea!

I highly recommend this place to all; it’s perfect for a girls date, family outing, kid’s party, bridal / baby showers and even intimate weddings. Pictures do not do justice to the beauty of Tea Under Trees, you need to experience it for yourself!

Till the next time we meet, stay magical.

Salted Caramel & Peanut Cheesecake

Thought I would start my 1st post  in my restaurant diary with my dessert experience at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa (https://www.facebook.com/vineyardhotel/?fref=ts).

I had the salted caramel & peanut cheesecake with citrus mocha cream. Wow, this the most delectable dessert I have had for a while. It is like  a party in your mouth with the culmination of tastes. I went with the intention of satisfying my creme brulee craving but could not see myself finishing a full portion so I settled for the half portion cheesecake. Half portion is just not enough for this slice of heaven.

Sitting all by my lonesome in the lounge area of the Vineyard Hotel http://www.vineyard.co.za/ unwinding after a busy day I found myself savouring every spoonful in slow motion. The cheesecake itself was perfection, the citrus mocha cream complemented the caramel and peanut flavours so well. I went as far as using the strawberry garnish and dunking it in the citrus cream. For the R45 half portion ( R78 full portion) you definately getting your money’s worth.

Compliments to the pastry chef !

salted caramel & peanut cheesecake