I remember an episode of a TV series, which might have been Kitchen Confidential but I’m not sure, where a gourmand has been told that he is will have a heart attack any day if he doesn’t go on a strict diet. Instead of going on a diet, he goes to his favourite restaurant and tells the chef he wants to eat there every night until he has the heart attack and he expects the chef to make every meal worth dying for (my words).
My meal at Barristers would have dropped that guy in one sitting. I was torn between two options: the Fillet Rossini, pan-fried fillets with mushrooms and chicken livers cooked in a red wine sauce (R85) and the The Gavel, rump or sirloin topped with sautéed chicken livers, bacon, cream and masala (R115). I went for The Gavel and it was very tasty but super rich. My dining partner, to try and make me feel bad, had a 300g fillet (R130) with basting only, no sauce. He enjoyed his meat and we enjoyed the accompanying chips and veggies.
You may have picked up from the description of the meal that Barristers leans towards being a pub. They sell themselves as a ‘European styled café bar and coffee shop’, but I got ‘pub’, although the food is definitely a step up so I’d go with ‘gastro pub‘. I’m quite new to the concept of gastro pubs, only having heard the term for the first time when I was in the UK last year. It think it needed to happen, people around the world are developing more sophisticated and demanding palates so the standard pub grub wouldn’t retain much custom.
Barristers does profess some pride in their ‘exciting’ wine list. The wine list does have some excellent wines on it but they are from mostly well known estates so don’t know if I would describe it as exciting. What was exciting though, was that the wine list was very reasonable. Several options for under R100 and some very nice bottles for less than R150 (talking reds here).
The service was friendly and offered no cause for complaint. The ambiance is warm and the place is clean, not worn as some restaurants that have been around for a while can be. Barristers has been around since 1980 which is quite remarkable for a restaurant in Cape Town. We enjoyed our meal there and it remains a good value, good quality option in the Southern Suburbs.
They are currently running a special which offers a selection of meals for R40 at lunch time and early dinner (before 7pm), Monday to Saturday. See all the restaurant specials here.
Barristers Grill & Cafe
Cnr. Kildare Road & Main Street, Newlands
021 671 7907
Hmm, not quite sure if I’d go as far as calling it a Gastropub, Dax? All the gastro-pubs i ever went to had smallish menus, tending towards fresher ingrediants and had a “cooler” or “funkier” edge. Many were old boozers that had been stripped and pared down, old oak was now limewashed etc. Barristers to me is (apart from a nominal attempt in the bar to make it slightly brighter with big windows and a couple of pot plants) full of faux-tudor beams, dark, old fashioned enough to serve me mixed frozen veg (little cubed carrots included) and therefore in my eyes, it hasn’t left the 70s yet!
Sounds like my experience was definitely better than yours, we had proper veggies.
I think gastropub is probably quite broad. While they do have the old style pub feel, they have a more interesting menu and some more modern and al fresco sections to the restaurant.
Certainly more gastropub than Euro cafe!
In terms of longevity, The Hussar in Rondebosch has been around longer, I think since 1964s; I’ve been eating there since the late 1980s – baked potato as cheap student lunch; steaks since the early 1990s, when it was owned and run by Marcus; dinner, take-away burgers at the turn of the millenium. And I still go there, but not often in these credit-crunchy times.
I was there on Monday. I had ribs, which were not up to their usual standard; my partner’s steak (rump) was unbelievable though. Crisp and charred outside, and extremely tender and juicy in the mouth.
Their fries need improvement though. I suspect they are parboiled.