The Power & The Glory is a most unlikely name for a restaurant/bar, and does not reflect anything about this new eatery and bar belonging to talented interior decorator Adam Whiteman.   The restaurant name is also the name of a Graham Greene book, written in 1940, and refers to words in the Lord’s Prayer.  Not surprisingly, Greene’s novel was controversial.   The Power & The Glory is an easy-going laid back place to stop and have a bite to eat and a beer, if one can find parking on this busy intersection on Kloofnek Road and Burnside Road, below Rafiki’s Bar, but don’t expect any service efficiency or much friendliness.  

Whiteman’s design teeth were cut in The Grand Café and Rooms in Plettenberg Bay, where he and his mom Gail Behr created a rich plush Moroccan style red velvet palace of rooms and a restaurant.  When his mother sold the Grand Café to Susie Main, he was contracted to do the decor for the Grand Cafés in Camps Bay and then The Grand on the Beach.   I was a very regular guest at The Grand Café and Rooms in Plett, and Adam’s brother Steven was hands-on in running the business, with Adam living in Cape Town. Given that Whiteman is the owner of The Power & The Glory, I had to come and try it out.

After only being open for a week or two, it was full already, but then it only has four tables, and some bar stools on the inside and outside of its windows, at which counters have been constructed.  I was told that a scooter outlet and a laundromat previously operated in this space.  The lower level has a huge counter that has a weathered look about it, with a busy collection of things on top of it, and a selection of beers, wines, ready-made sandwiches, a bowl of eggs, rosemary sprigs, natural yoghurt, Toulouse sausages, containers of muesli, and more inside it.   Breads lie on the counter, which make one think that one can buy them, but they are for use in the restaurant, and are supplied by Marcelino’s Bakery in Loop Street.  The patterned stainless steel counter was made by Gregor Jenkins, to the design of Whiteman, and has an aged look, and is duplicated in the Black Ram Bar.  Generally, the interior has a neglected and used look, but I am sure that is completely by design. 

In this lower section are the bar stools and window counters, the only seating.  In the upper section are the tables and chairs, and through this section is the bar.   I was standing at the counter to write down the details and prices, and Whiteman was putting change into his till.   I connected with him when he and I arrived simultaneously.  I chatted to him over the counter and asked him questions, but he looked stressed, and soon snapped at me, saying that he was busy, and that he only had half an hour before he had to go – an hour later he was still there.   He barely spoke to anyone, except to his staff.  He was up and down in the restaurant, and looks like an introvert, and one of those owners that should be in the back room, and let his relatively friendly staff (those on the early shift, at least) run the show.   I saw a Tweet by Andy Fenner that was less than flattering about the treatment Fenner’s wife received at the mouth of Whiteman the previous day. 

The rest of the information that I needed I obtained from a waitress, who stood behind the counter most of the time, as do the rest of the staff.  The tables are not cleared quickly, to allow the restricted seating to be made available to the stream of new arrivals.   Crockery is ordinary and white, and cutlery pedestrian.  Serviettes are tiny brown ones, but have a commendable recycled stamp on them.  The staff that made my cappuccino (coffee beans are from Deluxe) (R16) and Caprese salad (R48) seemed relatively more organised, but a shift change took place, and new staff stood behind the counter, with no carry over to existing clients – there was no record of what I had ordered, when I asked for the bill.  The waiter that brought it to me had a top on that was torn and it was held together with a big safety pin.   He was decidedly unfriendly, somewhat similar to his boss!

The menu is divided into three sections, and is only visible on boards above and alongside the counter.  No paper version is available.  The sign at the counter says that one must place one’s order at the counter and pay when ordering, but I was not given a bill, until I asked for it on my departure.  The “Morning Food” is available all day, and includes granola and yoghurt (R32), boiled eggs and toast (R26) or served with anchovy mayonnaise on toast (R36), goat’s milk cheese on rye toast (R36), croissants cost R16, and sticky pastries R18, a rather unusual breakfast choice.  Don’t expect a cooked breakfast – the food preparation area is directly behind the counter, and there is no space to cook anything.  From midday one can order sandwiches: gammon, chicken or sirloin (R36 – R42), Danish hot dogs (R30), “Saucissonn” (sausage) and bread (R28), chicken salad (R36), and sirloin salad (R38), a very small selection of easy-to-prepare dishes.   I had a wonderful Caprese salad, and it took me straight to Italy, served with a ball of mozzarella, quarters of tomato, sprigs of fresh basil, and drizzled with olive oil, which came with a large thin slice of rye toast (but which I had to ask for twice).   “Night Food” is a simple choice of Hot Dogs (R30) and sandwiches, as per the lunch menu.

One helps oneself to cold water in two jugs on a table, with attractive slices of orange. The wine prices are listed on a separate board, but the beer prices are not listed at all.  The waitress seemed uncertain about these, but gave them to me as R28 for a large Darling Brew, and R19 for a small one, Black Jack costs R19, Heineken and Windhoek R16.  De Morgenzon, Hermit on the HIll, Lammershoek, “Ernst & Gouws” and Black Pearl wines are sold, and range in price from R30/R110 – R46/R180.

What I did love, and what brought back memories of The Grand in Plett, was the music, more jazz initially, but becoming quite heavy rock.   Whiteman was the compiler of the iPod which The Grand played, and it was what made the restaurant such an amazing success, creating a tremendous atmosphere, and changing in its type and tempo throughout the day.   

Having had a far better and friendlier reception at Caffe Milano earlier that day, I don’t think I’ll be back to The Power & The Glory in a great hurry, given that one will be likely to wait for a table, and has to tolerate variable service levels, even though the salad I had was excellent and I enjoyed some of the music.   This is a ‘man’s man’s’ place, and too laid back and unfriendly for my liking.  

The Power & The Glory, corner Kloof Nek and Burnside Roads.  Tel (021) 422-2108.   No website. Monday – Saturday 8h00 – 22h00 for meals, and Bar 17h00 – “late”.  A sign on the door says “Ons praat Afrikaans”.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage