This is a whole review of The Quarter, although you can just read a quarter of the whole if you want to be half hearted.
Sorry about that, moving on swiftly then: I only got to eat at the Showroom a couple of times but did enjoy it and understood why Bruce Robertson has been so widely lauded. It’s a shame that it has closed and while I think that the Quarter is creative and interesting, it doesn’t show off Bruce’s talents as they deserve to be.
The Quarter serves only bunny chows. Unlike HQ (calling it Headquarter would only cause confusion at this point) which serves only one type of steak with one sauce, at Quarter there is a large selection of bunnies to choose from. The quarter (or kota) is apparently the correct term for a bunny chow. I lived in Durban, the home of bunny chow, for 6 years and have only ever heard it referred to as bunny chow. Be that as it may, at The Quarter, bunny chow has been taken to a whole new level and presented as ‘gourmet bunny chow’. I had one for dinner tonight and it is indeed gourmet.
Bruce is obviously into his sauces, like at The Showroom, you are encouraged to order a ‘topping’ (R10/R15) and a ‘sauce’ (R5/R10) with your bunny. The bunnies come in two sizes (quarter and half), hence the double pricing. What I didn’t know before I arrived was that only about 5 or 6 of the 19 available bunnies are actually curry. So if you are not a curry fan, you can still get in on the fun of eating your food out of a quarter loaf of white bread. Surprisingly the bread is not gourmet, in keeping with tradition, it’s stock standard government issue. You’ll even remember the unique taste from the days before you ate only 30% rye, low glycemic, life extending, vitamin enriched, high protein, additive free, mood enhancing, world saving, seed bread (a steal at only R20).
I was tempted to have a straight chicken curry bunny (R25) to see how they handle the basics, but then I thought if I’m going gourmet, I should go all the way (not because it rhymes, it was more a moment of inspiration thing – the decision, not the rhyming). So I ended up with a bunny bunny (rabbit done in cheese & mustard- R45) with Moroccan Humus (R10) and Chermoula (R5). I was interested in the ‘Brunch’ bunny (bacon & egg – R40) and wasn’t keen on splashing out on the Crayfish potjie bunny (R65). For the vegetarians, there are 5 vegetarian bunnies as well as several vegetarian sides to keep you happy.
I found it quite difficult to choose what to have I must admit. The staff are no help, they tell you that everything is designed to go with everything which I don’t believe for a second. There are 15 different toppings, including thai curry relish, cottage cheese, tapenade chutney, pap & biltong, etc. Then there are 15 sauces as well: Rocket & Pesto, harissa, gravy, anchovy mayonnaise, etc. I’m not the creative type, I hate having to choose toppings for my pizza and this is really the same thing. They need some recommendations or perhaps a chart showing the most popular combinations.
I was quite happy with my choice, the chermoula was great, but I couldn’t taste the humus, I think they might have forgotten it. The ‘welsh rabbit’ was fine but not the deep hearty flavour I was hoping for. I think I will try one of the more traditional curried options next time. Wine is available by the glass (R20), there seems to be quite a few options. I took my bunny away so didn’t spend much time in the modern space they have created.
I quite like what they are trying to do with The Quarter. Combining old with new, not just the bunny chow going gourmet, but they are also open till 2am so they are adding a modern, clean element to the traditional post razzle snack. No need to stop at Club Engén (goofball garage to some) or duck into Pickwicks, a gourmet bunny chow is the perfect alternative. They’ve kept the pricing quite reasonable as well, which should make it an easy decision.
One thing you need to be aware of: They don’t accept credit cards. Which, while being a little inconvenient, is fine. But really, they must put up a sign indicating as much because after investing 40mins in trying to choose my bunny, topping and sauce combination I’m going to be really annoyed when I have to go somewhere else because I don’t have cash on me.
44 Long Street, CBD
Tel: 021 424 1175
The chicken is a classic! Well-priced for a “gourmet” supper, but could be spicier. Ja, the concept is good and I think it’s the right spot for it: could it do for a South African food what Royale did for burgers on Long Street?
Went there today over lunch, but they had run out of bread. Not sure how long they’d last if they run out of their main ingredient (government loaf) over lunch?
Went to try the bunny chow on Friday night and although the food was great, I can’t say the same about the experience. Firstly no white wine available, not by the glass, not by the bottle. No delivery they say (I think: “Harley’s is just up the road”)Then, at the end of the meal we are informed that they don’t take card payments. My partner has to go in search of an ATM. Then, no bill (I’m thinking: “tax rip-off”). We then go for coffee elsewhere and on the way back there is Bruce Robertson and staff all drinking white wine! Clearly the staff are more important than the guests! Sorry, won’t go again.
No bread, no white wine… this is not sounding good.
Surely they can make some arrangement with Showroom Cafe next door if they run out of something?
I work around the corner in Bree Street, and picked up some chows for my future in-laws for dinner! We had the mutton, chicken, waterblommetjie and venison, and they were all delicious! Since we were 4 people, and we planned ot share, the guy behind the counter suggested the morrocan humus and something else, I forget what. In addition, he threw in some of the carrot salad, just to be nice!
It was a huge hit, got me off the hook for making dinner, and I fed 4 people for R120! Not bad, I say!
I have since gone for lunch on a couple of occasions, and I enjoy the ambiance, the service and the fresh tomato chutney, which is made in house!
I can highly recommend this as a great lunch or dinner option, and since I’ll never be able to finish a whole one, it remains affordable! Next time I’m having the bunny bunny, I just have to convince myself that R45 for a quarter loaf of bread is worth it!!
Just had a bunny for lunch.
Not convinced… great idea, but poorly executed.
SPICE in Rheede mall far better. No Frills no spills. Just a good Bunny prepared by someone who was actually born in Durbs.
@Gareth, I agree, the general concensus has been that it’s The Quarter is not up to scratch and I have actually had a curry from the Spice Cafe in the Rheede Street mall and it was excellent. Definitely worth checking out, although it closes quite early, about 6pm I think.
I know its meant to be cheap and cheerful but is it also meant to be rubbish? I was so excited to try The Quarter out and a whole bunch of us ordered a whole variety of chows. I had the venison, or should I say the cardomom, quarter. I picked out 8 cardomom pods that I’d already bitten into and the taste of which is quite overwhelming. The anchovie mayonaise was nice but that was about it. The chicken curry was pretty much the same with the added bonus of having large grissly chicken joints hidden inside it. The meat in all of them was minimal at best and I suspect they are not cooked on site as, what looked suspiciously like microwave baggies were taken out and heated to be poured into the bread. The only half decent one was the mince and chakalaka purely because there can’t be too many surprises there.
I was so totally disappointed
The Quarter closed a while ago and is now a schwarma spot.
Alas, I see SPICE has now also closed. I went there a number of times while I frequented Kloof St and was excellent. 🙁