Myoga (special) review

I’ve eaten at Ginja and Shoga several times, so am familiar with Mike Basset’s good work. I’ve been hearing good reports on Myoga for the last six months or so. I also popped in when I was in the area and was really impressed with the decor. So my visit to Myoga had the potential to be a fantastic dining experience. But it wasn’t.

I did go and try the special (R150 for 6 courses, R225 if paired with wines), which is good value as two courses would normally set you back nearly R200, so perhaps it is not a true indication of the offering. I also acknowledge that arriving as a party of 30, might have put some strain on the kitchen and staff. They did say it was the busiest night they have ever had. But, having said that, we were seated at 4 separate tables and each table was served independently. In fact the first table was into their second course when my table was still placing orders, so I don’t believe we posed any greater challenge.

First impressions were great. We enjoyed apperitifs in the ante room while the tardier members of the party trickled in. Then we were seated and I enjoyed looking around at the interesting decor which cannot be ignored. The kitchen demands a mention as it is well designed and integrates into the decor to create an effect which I found very appealing. The bathrooms are amazing, very different and modern with video screens showing what’s happening in the kitchen which I thought was novel and quite cool. The bathroom was surprisingly dirty though.

Once we were seated, the evening changed tracks and veered sharply toward annoyance, stopping at the station of frustration on it’s way. By the time we were seated it was getting quite late and we were getting quite hungry, so waiting 20 minutes for the first sign of service did not go unnoticed (forgivable, considering there were 30 of us). Our first service interaction immediately changed my mood from appreciation to annoyance as it was to offer me a choice of still or sparkling water, which was imported from Italy. I cannot accept restaurants defaulting to imported water when we have excellent local waters (in fact bottled water should not exist at all, but you can read my thoughts on that here). I requested local water and was mildly pacified when they brought some. I can understand restaurants stocking some imported water for those difficult customers that occasionaly turn up, but offering it by default is unacceptable.

Anyway, another 20 mins later we placed our order (you can see why one of our tables was on their second course by now) and most of us went for the special paired with wines. Another 20 minutes and the food started arriving, this is the set menu for the special:

– black pepper tartlet onion ragout broccoli rabe crème fraiche stone fruit chutney
– roast pumpkin miso soup gorgonzola croute
– linguine thai pesto grana padana homemade lamb chorizo
– raspberry jelly coconut milk dressing
– sous vide beef fillet sauce bordelaise puff pastry feullentine char grilled vegetables crispy roast potatoes wasabi hollandaise
– cape sea fish lemon verbena risotto broccoli rabe candied ginger and chilli coriander beurre blanc
– liquid aerated sponge Mexican vanilla bean ice cream Ayrshire cream

The food was actually really good, mostly. I loved the black pepper tartlet, loved the soup, the linguine was ok (a bit cold), but the chorizo was great. I didn’t like the palate refresher, but that was only a brief mouthful anyway. I had the beef which was excellent and way better than the fish with its undercooked risotto. The dessert was good and bad, I loved the icecream and wasn’t mad about the sponge which lacked flavour.

So, had everything gone smoothly, I would have been very happy with that meal. But the service managed to turn it into an exercise in frustration. The paired wines seldom arrived with the food, and often didn’t appear till after we had completed the course, if at all. One of our tables was on their third course before they received any wine! For a pairing, this is unacceptable. As for the wines, they were all from one estate which I can’t remember. The whites were not bad, but the reds were not pleasant. I left the reds and drank the glass I had ordered earlier in the evening.

Apart from the timing issues, we had one waiter who seemed determined never to look at the plate he was presenting. On three occasions (at our table, can’t speak for the others) he managed to dip the serviette he was carrying into the plated food and then smear it across the plate, converting a well presented dish into something quite unappealing. He never noticed because he never looked at the plates.

On the positive side, the waiters were friendly and eager to please, although not really able to. Perhaps it is not fair to rate Myoga on their busiest night. But it is certainly not fair to promise me a 6 course wine pairing  and give me six courses with random wines, while making me wait so long that the meal ended after midnight. What did I do to deserve that?

I liked the space and the food was mostly excellent, certainly interesting enough to hold my attention. It was a shame that the lofty expectations I had were not met. So I will go back again, on a quieter night and hopefully have the experience I am promised. I suggest you visit too, the special is good value even on a busy night.

Vineyard Hotel, Colinton Road, Newlands
Tel: 021 657 4545


9 responses to “Myoga (special) review”

  1. Hamish

    Come now Daxie, you should know that mid-winter specials are all about extracting some money out of locals to keep the cash flow going before the “real” customers arrive from Germany in Summer

  2. I believe it can be a mutually beneficial relationship if done right.

    Now that you’ve mastered the commenting thing, I’m looking forward to hearing about your glass of wine experience at Rust en Vrede [maybe comment under my post titled Rossouw’s restaurants award celebration with thoughts on Rust en Vrede]. And you never did post about your Haiku booking incident…

  3. Actually Dax – it was probably the busiest evening ever at Myoga because there were 30 of you. I admit when we went there (summer) the decor was fantastic, the food was very good, although small portions – we only had 2 courses and I must say that night our service was good. Cant say the same for their sister restaurant Ginja – it was one of the worst evenings, worst meals, I have ever had. Will NEVER go back to Ginja. – no third chances.

  4. I must say , that I had a similar experience…The food was excellent but our service was not. Somehow our table was charged with 5 bottles of water without our realization, and when asked whether we could replace our paired wines with a previous wine that we really liked, the waiter did so obligingly but forgot to mention that it was not a “replacement” and charged us extra – we didn’t receive our original wine either.

    I’ve been a big fan of Mike Basset’s work for a while, but have noticed a dip in the service department from previous ventures. This is the second visit that I have felt that the service has been lack-lustre, I really hope that he fixes this as it is a deterrent from an otherwise outstanding restaurant.

  5. went for the winter special the other night and honestly experienced the best service to date at a restaurant in cape town.

    so i guess it’s luck of the draw – the night you attend and the waiter you get.

    the food was fantastic too.

  6. To be so highly critical of your waiter is in my opinion unfair, I am sure that even you have bad days at work, If you aren’t enjoying your waiter’s service, you do have the prerogative to request another.

    Im glad that you understand the difference that a group of 30 makes, and it is for that reason that if you book for a large group, the recommendation is for a set menu, with no options, and for wine to be pre-ordered. I would suggest that you bear this in mind next time you book for a large group in any restaurant. The co-ordination that it requires to serve a 6 course meal with paired wines for a large group is impractical.

    If you want intimate service with attention to detail you cannot expect it on a group of more than 10 people. You are being unreasonable. I am afraid that your experience was compromised by bad organisational decisions on the part of host/hostess of your group.

    You can’t even have a 2 course meal at Spur for R150,00.

    I have eaten at Myoga many times before, and have done the winter special as well as their new spring special, and have to say that I enjoyed the service and food and wine every single time.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Tarryn. I do not believe that my review is unreasonable, nor unfair.

      I made it quite clear that we were a large group, but I also explained that they served us as separate tables to the point that the first table was 3 courses ahead of the last table. So there was no extraordinary co-ordination required. There is a difference between a waiter having a bad day and a waiter that is either untrained or uninterested in his performance. I’ve eaten out enough in the last 20 years to be able to tell the difference. I could not change waiters as you suggest because we were served by 4 different waiters over the course of the evening.

      With respect to the bad organisational decisions on the part of the hostess of our group, the restaurant knows their capabilities. If it can’t handle a group it must not take the booking. There are many other restaurants that handle large groups without set menus and pre ordered wine with no difficulty whatsoever. Whilst there are restaurants limited by the size of their kitchen or other constraints, I don’t believe it is the norm to expect a set menu for a group. Especially when they are seated at different tables and served independently.

      I think my review was honest, but still positive and above all, fair.

  7. I just received a copy of Cape Coupons in my mail box and cannot believe the great deals they are offering. At Myoga there is a 20% off voucher for your entire food lunch bill as well as a Free Dessert coupon for Dinner and a Buy One Get One Free coupon for cocktails. I have eaten here before and will definitely be paying them a visit soon to use one of these coupons. Cape Coupons web-site is and it looks like they deliver their magazine to your home free of charge.

  8. Interesting magazine Cape Coupons!! Received my free issue on Monday and ate out at Emily’s last night, what an awesome experience loving the buy one get one free main meal option. My husband had the facial at wembly clinic today and received a free one hour body massage, can’t wait to try the other restaurants, Boo Radleys Bandaris etc. Anyone else with feedback?