DORETTE Naude has been around for a number of years now, first making a culinary impression at The Island at Pine Lodge and later taking her skills to the Pitch and Putter in Mount Road.
But now Dorette and her business partner Johnathan Rafferty have plans to put PE on the South African – and hopefully world – map with their new franchise, the Barn and Barrel, which opened at Kings Court last week to great acclaim.
While about 1000 happy customers enjoyed the opening night, the restaurant was a little quieter when we popped in this week to see if the brand has the possibility of becoming the new Keg, Spur or Nandos.
Certainly the menu has great possibilities. Diners can choose from a selection of tapas dishes, from a pub menu or from a mains menu. At the time of our visit, desserts were missing but the very hands-on Dorette hastens to add that the sweet- toothed are well catered for with a selection of dishes to round off the meal already available.
But back to the starters and the mains, which we perused while sipping on our glasses of promptly served wine – red at R25 a glass for my dinner partner, rosé at R20 for me.
The tapas menu features quite a few tastebud tempters but eventually we decided to share the prawns (R40 for six) accompanied by, on Dorette’s advice, a garlic and cheese roll (R24).
We were still trying to decide on our mains from tempters like salads, pasta, steak, venison potjie and combination meals like calamari with pan-fried prawns (R80) or rump and calamari (R75), when the food was served by our well- versed waiter, Thandile.
The prawns had a not overpowering hint of lemon and were cooked to perfection and, while the roll could have had more garlic in it for my dinner partner, I found the flavour just right. The large, soft roll was crammed full of melted cheese. Very yummy indeed.
With so much to choose from, including realistically priced burgers served with chips at just R25, it was really difficult to narrow down the options but eventually my dinner partner, who is very particular when it comes to fish, settled on the hake and chips which Thandile had recommended. Although the restaurant is new, he knows the menu well.
I decided, as I like to do and often find restaurants failing, to put versatility to the test and asked if the toasted chicken mayo and cheese I fancied could be served with onion rings instead of chips. It could, and while a toasted sandwich might sound like an odd follow-up to the decadent prawns, it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.
The fish, meanwhile, was declared delicious by my partner, although the chips were a little bit lacklustre.
With no space left for dessert we settled our bill, which came to just R320, with a tip and three glasses of wine each.
At those prices and with the diversity of the menu, impressive service and good food it’s quite likely that this PE restaurant will be the flagship of branches soon to be found in the streets of London.
Restaurant visits are unannounced and meals are paid for in full.