A Wonky Affair All Round

CASSIA RESTAURANT. On the Nitida Wine Estate in Durbanville.: Tel 021 976-0640,,,,,,,,
Would somebody please get this place some new tables?
Unfortunately, the list of woes experienced by moi at Cassia Restaurant on the Nitida Wine Estate does not stop with the clumsy, wonky tables. Nor does it start there. Actually, it started at 16:03 on the day prior to my visit when I called the winery to reach the restaurant so that a booking could be made.
I was surprised to find that the Nitida winery staff had already knocked off for the day. Instead of a human, I, heard a recorded voice barking numbers and codes at me. Things are obviously going so well in the flourishing Durbanville Wine Route that cellars apparently close after the siesta.
In any event, said Cassia telephone number was obtained via recorded voice so I made the reservation for a party of upcountry business folk and myself. It was a sure deal: they were staying out in the Northern Suburbs and I had been to Cassia before so knew that it was better than the other dining options in that neck of the woods.
Things change, however, and not always for the better.
Okay, as we sat down we felt the table tremble. A wine glass almost fell over. I was just about to complain to the waiter about the wonkiness when the guests at the table next to us told us they were experiencing the same problem, and that this seemed to be a new design feature.
Not wishing to show our barbaric and un-modish lack of appreciation for design, we set about the business of ordering dinner.
The Cassia menu used to be easy to understand. Ah, those were the days. Now we get onglet and T-bone of lamb, for fuck’s sake.
In any event, we were guided in the direction of venison terrine for starters, which two of the guests had. I was feeling fishy and went for the prawn starter, while the other partner had a go at some risotto.
The terrines were good. The risotto was hopelessly over-salted, I was told in whispered tones. Being the host, I offered to diplomatically complain by hitting the chef with a wonky table, but was requested not to make a scene.
My prawn starter was like the tip I ended up leaving at the end of the meal: Small, but beautifully arranged.
For close on R50 bucks you get not one, but two mangy frozen supermarket prawns covered in a crumbed-kind of thing resembling budgie vomit. Look, if you are going to rip someone off with two prawns, why not make these two good quality prawns cooked with a bit of skill so as to ensure a semblance of succulence is maintained?
At this stage we were drinking Nitida’s very good 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, a great wine to wash down tough, bland prawns with if ever there was one.
For mains two in the party had fillet of beef, one had chicken with some beany thing and I settled on the onglet of beef with “Cassia chips”.
The fillet appeared uninspiring on its little bed of mash. The chicken was tasty, but over-seasoned again and a bit on the undercooked side.
Onglet, a strip of beef from the chest section, was ordered medium rare and arrived in tepid slices with a heap of green leaves and some very tired looking thick-cut French fries.
I longed for the Cassia of old: the hotness of the thin chips. The taste of the sauces. The savouriness of the meat and fowl. The feeling that everything had been freshly cooked after hours’ exciting and spirited sessions of menu planning.
This was just going through the motions, and if I am going to pay these kind of prices for just going through the motions, they can go and get stuffed.
The cr?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?+¦+ëme br?+¦???+¦?+¦????l+¬e was coffee-flavoured, a dead giveaway of the chef’s inability to make a traditional one, but not bad. The tip was small, the wine was good.
And the table was wonky.
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4 thoughts on “A Wonky Affair All Round

  1. I drive past there every day. And always wanted to go. First time I tried to find some reviews on the net. The reviews I found were bad. And my cousin confirmed their service was not very good.

    So I waited. And thought that they might improve as time goes and read their own reviews. Just this morning I thought enough time has gone by. And I promised myself to make a booking.

    Now I have to wait again. Pity. It is just around the corner of my house!

  2. Although there is some fair comment in Mr Bruwers crit of Cassia, I feel the immature, sarcastic manner in which he has delivered his comment is unjustified. Fair enough the tables may wobble, but it was the previous owners who purchased them, as far as the menu is concerned it is all a work in progress and things will change to suite our clients needs and the chefs interpretation of certain dishes. The Onglet and T- bone are items which were featured during the previous owners tender too, so maybe Mr Bruwer should be a little less condescending and a little more informed before climbing on his soap box.

    Cassia has for the most part become a whole lot more accessible and far less intimidating with regards what is offered on the menu.
    Pricing is in line with most restaurants in the area and the quality of the food and service is improving as we move forward with the building of a brand that we are proud of and will match the award winning wines produced at Nitida.

    Please feel free to come and visit us and come to your own conclusions with regards what we have to offer.


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