Restaurant Review: Cowboys & Cooks De Waterkant serves excellent food, but service lags!

I attended the opening of Cowboys & Cooks Sunset Beach about a year ago, and with it the Media Lunch, which was handled very impressively. Last month the second Cowboys & Cooks opened, in De Waterkant, and I was invited to the launch function, at which I received a voucher entitling me to eat at the new restaurant before the end of January. I somehow fell off the Media lunch invitation list for this new restaurant, so went to the try the restaurant on my own steam, armed with my voucher.

I had invited Barbara Lenhard to join me for the lunch, wanting to hear about her recent Around the World in 78 Days trip. She had to postpone the lunch by a week, and both reservation calls to the restaurant were handled professionally. I was surprised that the restaurant did not have a reservation confirmation system, which most restaurants use, and that therefore there was no confirmation message on the morning of our reservation.

The new Cowboys & Cooks is located in a brand new building off Somerset Road in Green Point, and officially its address is Liddle Road, a little circular road, the entrance door to the restaurant facing Somerset Road. Surprisingly the signage is very small, compared to that at the shopping mall at Sunset Beach. Two hostesses were at the entrance door, but only one had the reservation list, and she was completely disinterested in my arrival, struggling to find me on the list. I was taken to the Library section of the restaurant, much darker than the rest of the restaurant,so I asked to be moved, so that I could have better light for taking photographs.

I had street-parked a block away, but Barbara was late in arriving as she had problems parking in the building of the restaurant. The hostess placed the menu on each of the place settings. A waitress presented herself while I waited for Barbara to arrive. She had an unironed white shirt on, and a dirty white apron, so I requested that she be replaced with another waiter. I asked for a big glass of water, and received a small one from the new waiter. At this point I started to fear what we were in for, with this poor service start. But I could breath again when I recognised the friendly Mo Mpujika, previously the Manager at HQ, who was very helpful throughout our lunch. He turned down the very loud music, as the speaker was directly overhead. We had to move tables, as we were seated very near a table of ten, which looked like an end of year function, and threatened to become a very boisterous affair. 

I was impressed yet again to see white tablecloths on the table, and a matching material napkin. Cutlery is by Eetrite, not at the same stature as the opulent crystal chandeliers above our table, and all along the entrance passage of the restaurant. A green branch in a vase adds a bit of colour, but is an odd table decor touch. Salt and pepper grinders are on the table. A snack bowl of olives with garlic was brought to the table, and I was able to have it replaced without the garlic. No spoon is served with the olives, so one is meant to eat them by hand, which I did not like. They are too oily to be pierced with one’s fork.

Male waiters wear an odd-looking dustcoat in white, with black trousers, looking like they have been whisked away from La Perla, while the female waiters wear white shirts and black slacks, with a branded apron over it. 

I requested the ‘Curated Daily Lunch Special’ menu, which was what the voucher entitled me to eat from, available to the restaurant goers too, but not offered to us as a menu option until I requested it. The two-course menu costs R138, and is offered at both Cowboys & Cooks branches at lunchtime from Mondays to Saturdays, as well as on Sundays at Sunset Beach. The starter list offers four options:

#  Truffle-infused cauliflower soup, with Parmesan, crispy bacon, and topped with ciabatta crumbs, a perfect choice for Barbara on a wintry summers day, nice and thick, and tasty. A cream coloured soup in a while soup bowl did not have a presentation zing to it, 

#  Deep fried crispy calamari tubes, marinaded in fresh lemon, olive oil, red chili flakes, bay leaves, Italian parsley, and served with rocket, lemon, and aioli. 

#   Peri-peri chicken livers pan-fried in creamy chipotle Peri-Peri sauce, infused with fresh lemon juice and coriander, and served with a warm cocktail Portuguese roll

#   Heirloom Tomato and Bocconcini Salad, with heirloom and semi-dried tomatoes, red onion, fresh sliced garlic, basil pesto, olive oil, balsamic reduction, lemon salt, and served with crispy Bocconcini. I had my salad personalised, not wishing the Bocconcini to be fried, and requesting fresh tomatoes, the basil pesto on the side, and the exclusion of the onion and garlic. It was super perfect and delicious, a generous portion, and very colourful. 

As we were not offered a meat presentation spiel that was so impressive at the Sunset Beach Media lunch, we asked for someone to talk us through the main course options. General Manager Lisa-Mari talked us through the menu, and described the two main course options of 200 gram Rump or Sirloin as being 28-day aged Karan beef, with the sirloin having a thin layer of fat, making it more flavourful, so Barbara and I both chose this cut. We never got to hear what the Linefish is. Barbara ordered her sirloin with hand-cut chips, super crispy when I was allowed to try one, while I had mine with a very generously-sized baked potato served with sour cream and chives. We both received a Truffle mushroom sauce, which had become very thick in that it was not warm when served, but it was very tasty. We both ordered the sirloin medium rare, and I found mine to be a little dry, tending more to Medium.

Barbara kept her lunch non-alcoholic, ordering Rock Shandies, while I had a lovely glass of Ernst Gouws Pinot Noir 2017 (R88), after having also having tried a taster of 2017 New Zealand Mud House Pinot Noir, which was awful. 

For dessert I ordered a Cognac chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream (R69), a delicious ending to the meal. Barbara shared a taste of mine and ordered tea. 

The bill was brought to the table for the full value, even though I had told the waiter at the beginning that we had a voucher. As we were under time pressure, it was annoying when the waiter could not get the voucher value removed from the bill, it taking too long. 

The location of the new Cowboys & Cooks is good in De Waterkant, easy to get to for its residents, and for those from the City and Atlantic seaboard too. The service deficiency marred what could have been an excellent meal, given the good food. 

 

Cowboys & Cooks De Waterkant, 4 Liddle Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town. Tel (021) 869 2352. www.cowboysandcooks.com Instagram: @cowboysandcooks 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein

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