Nothing blue about this Monday night at Buenos

EVERYBODY knows Mondays are the worst choice for a night on the town, but I’ve never quite been able to figure out why.

Perhaps it is because we feel more deserving of a slap-up meal or a spot of celebrating towards the middle or end of the week, when our energies are flagging and the weekend is tantalisingly close.

But if you ask me a Monday night is actually ideal for dining out. There’s no stampede for the best table and you have the delicious illusion your weekend is still carrying on even if, for some, it has been punctuated by one day of work angst. The trouble is you’ll first have to find a spot that’s open on this rather maudlin of nights, when your separation anxiety from the weekend that has passed is surely at its peak.

My dining side-kick Salvelio and I had a different reason for venturing out for a review meal on Monday, as it was one of those weeks when other evenings were slurped up by work or social engagements.

So off we tootled to Buenos, the laid-back new restaurant in bustling Stanley Street which, as luck would have it, was open. Buenos is next door to Fushin and shares space with the old Deli Street Cafe, now known as Grind. They have divided the cavernous space in half with the left hand side occupied by Buenos for light-lunches and at night, and the right by Grind for breakfast and lunch.

There were just a few other diners around but we immediately felt welcome when we spotted the familiar friendly face of Craig Holmes.

Craig used to own and run 34 Degrees South when it was at the Boardwalk (and, in the early years, a favourite spot of ours). He spent much of the past year working in Joburg. Ready to do the restaurant thing again – only on a far smaller and more relaxed scale than before – he confessed he was “hugely relieved” not to be personally responsible for the welfare of up to 45 staff any more.

“Buenos” is hard to translate as it’s not really a word Latinos would use on its own. It basically means “the good” and we thought the name apt as Craig is a simpatico kind of guy with a quick wit and always a funny story to tell. Soon we were having a blast reminiscing about all sorts of nonsense and dipping into great big bowls of prego chicken livers (R38) and home-made tomato soup (R30). There was lots of convivial dunking facilitated by a pile of Portuguese buns that were super-fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Next thing we knew we had polished off a bottle of Allee Bleue Starlette Blanc (R70), a subtle, fruity white with a lingering hint of citrus and a pleasant, long finish. So pleasant, in fact, that it enabled our rubber arms to be twisted to try some mains, even though the starters had been more than ample.

Salvelio’s flame-grilled pork ribs (R110) was hearty, meaty man’s food coated in a sticky- but-not-sickly marinade, while my Patagonian baby calamari tubes (R89) were nicely grilled, al dente and full of flavour.

Both plates came with chips that were perfectly crispy and we also received a generous side salad of fresh greens and colourful strips of peppers tossed in a cream whole- grain mustard dressing that I really enjoyed.

We should have called it a night but having espied some cheesecake in the Grind display stand, opted to share a decadent slice. All in all we had a sensational evening, which just goes to show that you don’t need a crowd to have a really good time.

Buenos is on 082-920-5229. This review visit was unannounced and the meal paid for in full.

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