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If you only eat out once in Cape Town... 95 on Keerom

Hi MdeSilva

I'm afraid we had a VERY different experience!

We had read rave reviews about 95 and were excited to experience one of Cape Town's top culinary offerings. Unfortunately the hype exceeded the reality. We'd have been better off eating elsewhere.

The restaurant is in a very attractive cul-de-sac in The Gardens upscale neighborhood near the center of town. The area is inhabited by heritage buildings occupied by quaint barristers' chambers (old law offices) and 95 is a building of character which, like its sibling, Carne (a more than decent steakhouse) has been tastefully restored and redecorated.

We ate upstairs and were seated at a corner table in elegant surroundings. The table setting was tasteful and the seats were attractively upholstered in a bamboo-looking wood frame. An interesting conifer substituted for the usual floral table decor.

So far so good.

The chef/maitre d'Hotel presented the menus and summarized the menu with an Italian accent highlighting the specials and certain items from the regular menu. We inquired about the steak tartare and were informed that it was made from rump steak. When we pointed out that the menu referred to "prime filet " wWe were told that the meat was actually "the fillet cut of the rump". What cut is that???

Then we met Isaac, our waiter, and things started to go downhill pretty fast. We opted for menu choices that suggested wine by the glass as the best option. That's when we noticed that there were only two reds by the glass and only a few whites. A disappointment for a top-class Italian restaurant.

Since one of the reds was unknown to us, we asked for a small drop to taste. In most classy establishments they're only too pleased to let you sample wines served by the glass whose bottles have already been opened. In our case, Isaac thought we'd just asked for something totally out of the ordinary and reacted in an offhand way stating that he'd have to see if this was possible. Eventually, the taste arrived.

Two of us decided on a glass of white and red, respectively, and our third guest opted for sparkling water. Again, Isaac displayed a condescending attitude as if to suggest that we ought to have at least ordered a bottle of wine.

Then we ordered. Our "third guest" chose the entree portion of steak tartare and decided to skip an appetizer. Again, Isaac piped up. "I would recommend you order an appetizer since the main course will take time to prepare". Again, we were taken aback by Isaac's pushy, seemingly condescending attitude. He so "pushed" a starter that our third guest eventually gave in, succumbing to a starter salad and a starter portion of the tartare. At this point I stepped in and defended the original choice of no appetizer and Isaac reluctantly backed off.

The rest of us ordered linguine with crayfish (superb) and a trio of game meat , the latter well cooked and tasty but accompanied by uninspiring sauteed chopped spinach.

The meat quality of the steak tartare was underwhelming -- defintely more rump than filet -- with specks of grizzle pre-mixed with the onion, parsley, onion, capers, etc. Typically, this dish is prepared (ie mixed with panache) at the table, but at 95 it appears as a hamburger patty without any trace of egg, but only with small accoutrements of onion, capers, and parsley.and mini-toast. A disappointment in presentation and quality.

No refills of the wine glasses were offered by Isaac, who had to be requested for a resupply.

Desserts were unappetizing and unremarkable. Only two appealed -- gelato and sorbetto. Again, we were unimpressed with only one choice of each. If pineapple sorbetto or vanilla gelato didn't appeal, you (and we) were out of luck! What a pity that this so-called leading Cape Town restaurant couldn't dream up a wider choice of enticing offerings -- especially given the abundance of delicious fresh fruit in season.

In short, the food was average, the service surly and presumptuous and the attitude haughty. There are many better choices delivering higher quality cuisine at a lower cost with less attitude.

Mar 06, 2012
brownkat in Middle East & Africa