ASKING the fairly new Baobab Grill manageress, Kelly Allison, what she advised for supper on a chilly Africa Day, she replied with another question: did I like ribs?
Well, actually, I haven’t had them for ages, at least not since my son
and daughter left for the Diaspora, but who doesn’t relish a generous portion of barbecued ribs, dripping with lashings of delicious basting sauce, in pleasant surroundings with delightful company?
One reservation was, I am not totally mad about eating main meals with fingers, but there is no way you can do justice to, or get full value for money and nutrition from, sizzlingly seared spareribs without digging in with disgustingly dripping digits and gnawing every last delightful sticky morsel off the bones.
In the interest of troublesome uric acid, I wouldn’t have had beef ribs, but these were lean tasty pork, mightily meaty, done to a turn.
And plenty of them: a Desperate Dan-sized helping. It was only after I’d cleaned the final tacky, sticky, fragrant gunk off hands in a tepid finger bowl, that I learned this house specialty was $2 million.
But that’s not really a train smash today when you can eat until, candidly, uncomfortably replete. The gnawed bones made a nice treat for Blaze the X-Labrador and that was only half the quantity of ribs served.
One doggy-bag held skeletal debris of a much enjoyed meal (even managed all the good, golden crispy chips and vegetables); a second bag held half the meat portion originally dished up: destined for next day’s lunch at home with baked potato (Zesa permitting).
Nothing but the highest possible praise for the restaurant’s presentation and service; both main course rib dish and humble-sounding chocolate mousse ($350 000) were worthy of being painted as still life studies and prominent display in the National Art Gallery.
Apart from looking good, the pudding tasted superb, one of the richest creamiest around, with really mouthwatering deep dark chocolate: a decidedly decadent dessert for the discerning diner.
Kelly has a degree in hospitality management from the University of Bournemouth and worked at several top class restaurants, not least of which was the world famous Savoy Hotel in London. She looks uncannily like Lee Stewart who owns Baobab Grill and the abutting Thai, Blue Banana, with husband Heath. Assuming they were sisters, I was assured that error is often made. The other night duty manager was Jonathan Baker, formerly with Meikles.
A “workman-like” side salad accompanied entrée; as a main course, salads are $680-$860 000. A range of eight different starter courses are from $450 000 (stuffed potato cakes) to $600 000 (Zambezi Ritz or beef kebabs) with soup of the day $520 000 or creamy mushroom soup $600 000.
A 250g fillet steak is $1,4 million, 200g ladies’ fillet $1,2 million, rump $1,75 million; house special burger $980 000, all with chips, rice or sadza. Fish and chips there is now one of the most reasonably priced around in these days of galloping hyper-inflation at “just” $1,25 million; chicken dishes are $1,35-$1,6 million; vegetarian plates $900 000.
The twin restaurants are among the most child-friendly around with special play room, children’s TV and video, games, colouring books, supervised by a trained nurse. The children’s menu has Wieners and chips, mini-pizzas and burgers at around half-a-million and puddings at a quarter of a million.
I had one (or two?) Pilsener lagers at $220 00, but a planned cappuccino was scrubbed, as Zinwa once again made the Newlands/Eastlea area as dry as the Sahara and the machine won’t hiss and splutter without good mains pressure. Strong filter coffee proved an agreeable alternative.
I felt the rack of ribs just too large for average appetites; offering half the amount at (say) $1,1 million may well increase throughput, turnover and profit.
Highly recommended; booking advised.
* Baobab Grill, Newlands shopping centre. Tel: 252269/252275. Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays.