Rough with the smooth

Jonathan Liebmann is doing a brilliant job, turning a number of abandoned factories and warehouses into a trendoid’s paradise. The Maboneng Precinct has just about everything — studios and exhibition halls, a hotel/apartment building with mini art galleries on every floor, a small ­cinema and an alternative market every Sunday.

What it hasn’t got is a really good restaurant, although that was the role Pata Pata was expected to play when it opened next to the 12 Decades Hotel in November 2010.

Justice Malala, who knows a thing or two about food and writes about it in the Financial Mail, dropped in soon afterwards and was not impressed. The service was awful, both the barman and waitress were clueless, the tables were wonky, the restaurant opened before it
was ready — but the food was very good.

Wonky beginnings

It has been about six months since Malala’s visit and — guess what? — on the coldest day of the winter, they had run out of gas for the high-beam gas heaters. The tables are still wonky — we tried three before giving up. The service has improved — presumably there’s a new waitress and a new barman — and some­, though not all, of the food is very good.

But one is still left with the impression that Pata Pata is not quite ready to open.

The decor is super-appealing. It might be described as eclectic industrial — industrial being the raw cement finishes and the eclectic everything else. Nothing matches: there are chairs covered with red velvet, or brocade, or jute; banquettes run along one wall; there are little conversation groups. Hanging lamps are covered with old hessian coffee sacks.

The venue is divided, with one half a bar area and the other the restaurant and it is likely the bar area wins. Pata Pata looks like a party venue, with high ceilings designed to bounce noise back at revellers.

And perhaps that’s what it is. Here’s the evening line-up: comedy night on Wednesday, live bands on Thursday and Sunday and DJs playing everything from lounge music to funk on Friday.

Sort of blah

It’s a party venue with food, however, so let’s talk about that. The chicken curry is very, very good and the seafood soup, a sometime special, is nearly a bouillabaisse. The chefs try to serve vegetarians something besides pasta (the usual cop-out) and, although they haven’t yet hit the V-spot, there’s potential there — they even make spinach interesting, with enough chilli to blow your head off. Spring rolls are first-rate, with a brilliant dipping sauce of sweet chilli and coriander. What doesn’t seem to work are the veg curry and the lamb curry — the first sort of blah, with the vegetables julienned, and the second too tough.

The plates aren’t warmed, so you have to eat quickly before the curry congeals.

The malva pudding is good, however, with custard made while you wait, and wait and wait.

That’s the main restaurant in the Maboneng Precinct but there are others. Walk past the hotel during the day and drop into the Chalkboard Café. It offers the usual half-circles of stodge masquerading as croissants but its homemade muffins are really good — and one can draw on the tables while waiting for the muffins to come out of the oven. Chalk is supplied for the purpose.

Carry on to the Canteen at Arts on Main, where the croissants are marginally better, breakfast is good and inexpensive and lunch ranges from beer-battered hake and chips and a roast beef baguette with dipping gravy to an array of salads and two platters — one Italian, one ­vegetarian.

Hustle and bustle

But for really good food, one has to wait for Sunday. That’s when a bunch of interesting chefs converge on the Market on Main. You’ll find Ethiopian food from Little Addis, really good raw food from Jozi Uncooked and chocolates from Fine & Raw. There are delicious soups on offer, different sorts of olives (including roasted), tacos, dolmades and rotis, coffee (including the Ethiopian coffee experience, complete with couches) and, of course, good food from the Hare Krishnas. And there are long wooden tables to sit at, if you can find a place.

Pata Pata and the Chalkboard Café are at 286 Fox Street, City and Suburban.
The Canteen and the Sunday Market on Main are a block away at 264 Fox Street, City and Suburban.
Websites include directions, a map and GPS co-ordinates:
artsonmain.co.za
marketonmain.co.za
mainstreetlife.co.za

Advertisting

Hlophe complaint is an eerie echo

But the new complaint against the Western Cape judge president is also unprecedented

Mabuza contract grows by R10m

Eskom’s negotiators in a R100-million maintenance contract came back with a proposal to push up the costs

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide
Advertising

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.