Not-so-itsy-bitsy pub with 'truly infectious bite'

City Slukker, with Shaun Gillham

IT'S a little bar with a big future. And so, as an equally ambitious stand-in Slukker for chief City Slukker Brett Adkins, who is currently quaffing foreign tipples in foreign lands, it was easy to immediately feel at home in the not-so-itsy-bitsy Barking Spider out in Greenbushes.

Having spread its web under new management in October last year, The Barking Spider has already ensnared a whole host of jovial local bar flies who this week lined the cosy pub's lengthy wooden bar counter.

And well located within easy reach, on the city's outskirts in Cape Road, The Spider occupies a convenient corner behind the old Greenbushes Hotel, where its eclectic set of patrons can either languish in a bring-and-braai area outside or sip on a cold one indoors where the atmosphere is distinctly warm and equestrian.

This is not only because the pub sits squarely in Port Elizabeth's horse country and a short gallop from the Fairview Race Course, but also because it's owned by June Steenkamp, whose family is steeped in equestrian heritage. Photographic memorabilia of husband Barry Steenkamp, a popular and successful horse trainer, line the walls of the establishment, which is also known to attract jockeys, trainers, and herds of other horse folk.

But sadly, and to the disdain of bubbly manager Simone Cowburn, The Spider has of late attracted flies of a different kind – local and international reporters eager to grill its owners around the tragic and notorious death of their model daughter Reeva Steenkamp.

But Cowburn brushes these small menaces aside and enthuses about a grilling of a different kind – the very reasonably priced and increasingly popular meals on offer there.

Complete with Barry's Breakfast, seafood and steak offerings and a magnificent Sunday roast, among other dishes, The Barking Spider's menu has become a major drawcard.

"We have started off small and basic, but it is working very well and our food, prepared by our superb chef Leonard Mali, has really taken off. We have huge plans for this place. Soon we will have a juke box, another big television and we are also working on introducing beer draught taps," said Cowburn as she delivered ice-cold tipples to her beaming clientele who can also make use of a well- appointed restaurant area on the premises.

Echoing the menu's economics, the Spider's tipples are also pleasingly easy on the wallet with both beer and spirit prices that certainly won't take anyone for a ride. While draught beer is not yet on tap, it's definitely available in bottles and is served to the highest icy standards of any seasoned Slukker.

Generously cheaper than many pubs in the city, local beer brands can change hands there for a soothing R12, while the price of most spirits hover around the R10 mark.

This, the warm greetings from both staff and patrons, easy conversations, generous handfuls of bar snacks and clean and pleasant ablutions, give The Spider a truly infectious bite.

So whether you are planning on slukking solo or rounding up a slukking posse, you are sure to find a friendly face and a great time if you pull up a saddle at The Barking Spider.