Oskar’s Delikatessen (their spelling, and comes from the name the co-owner wants to call her son one day, and is a play on words with “Os-kar”, or “ossewa”, as ox wagons were used as there never was a railway line in Hermanus, but it had a railway station) opened in Hermanus about a year ago, on a site that was previously the public library, in the new Quarters Hotel building. It is a cosy and homely eatery, but has a most unwelcoming co-owner and incompetent service, which will not stand it in good stead to develop a loyal custom.
I arrived whilst the young co-owner was on the phone, chewing gum (an absolute no-no in my book). She ignored me completely, as did the waitress. While I waited I took some interior shots, and that made the waitress bring a menu. I ordered a cappuccino, water and a scrambled egg and bacon, requesting a pumpkin seed roll to be replaced with a rye bread toast, and the exclusion of creme fraiche (R38). The water was brought in an unusual Oskar’s-branded water bottle, with a straw, a nice touch, except that the bottle’s head is too narrow to take ice, so it was not served cold, as requested. The cappuccino was very milky and weak.
The preparation area is open to the seating section, which is not very large, with a central wooden table seating about eight, and wooden tables against the window to the street, and the back wall. My table was against the back wall, with a mirror above it, which had not been cleaned for a while. Sweet treats are displayed in bell jars on counters separating the seating and food preparation areas, and the cupcakes, rusks, feta and apple tarts, and the other treats, were beautifully presented. I noticed that each of the seven ceiling lamps was different, a design quirk. Orchid stems in little glass containers are on the tables.
While waiting for the egg, I asked the co-owner for some take-aways for my staff, specifying what I wanted and the quantity. She could not remember any of what I asked her, partly due to the loud music in the Deli. I must have shown my irritation with the poor service, because Illana, the co-owner, came to sit with me, giving me the third degree, as to who I am, why I was there, who I write for and why I was taking photographs – “I am not looking for a headmaster’s report and to be critiqued” she told me. She felt that I should have asked her permission to write a review and to take photographs. I know her mother Sanmarie, a fellow guest house owner in Hermanus, and I have been to Oskar’s before. She then asked me where she would be able to read my “horrible” review.
My first egg dish arrived with the pumpkin seed roll, the second came with the rye bread toast but was served cold, probably not re-made when the bread was changed (I was asked by the co-owner “So how warm did you want the egg to be?!”), and the third attempt was fine in that the bread was correct and the egg was warm, but it was a very disappointing runny egg. I liked the sprinkling of poppy seed over the scrambled egg, but could not taste it.
One can order nine shakes, with some creative creations available – Lindt Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookie – ranging in price from R 25 – R 30. What I loved about the Oskar’s Deli menu is the ability for one to tailor-make one’s meal, in terms of choices offered, and also saving on costs if one does not like a particular item or ingredient. For example, one can order a muffin for R15, and pay R5 for butter, R3 for strawberry jam, R5 for cream and R7 for cheese. Pies (spinach and Danish feta, and Chicken, cost R 15, and Lamb and rosemary R20) can be ordered as is, or with a side salad at R15, gravy (R8) and/or roasted vegetables (R15). Salads cost R 40 for a basic fruit, feta, pecan nuts, onion, tomato, rocket, baby spinach, seeds and sprouts, and to this can be added extras such as avocado (R6) or black forest ham, salmon or roasted vegetables, each costing R15. The base pasta is tagliatelle, basil pesto, lemon, Danish feta and pumpkin seeds, to which salmon, black forest ham and/or roasted vegetables can be added, at R15 each.
But it is the sandwich list that looks most interesting, the base being baguettes, seed rolls, bagels, rye bread etc, on which wonderful fillings are served – e.g. Danish feta, Italian salami, sundried tomato and basil pesto; Haloumi cheese and rocket; smoked salmon, cream cheese, lemon juice and rocket; bacon, Brie and rocket; Emmental cheese, Gypsy ham, basil pesto, mayonnaise, seeds and sprouts – each costing around R35.
I won’t be back at Oskar’s Delikatessen in a great hurry – at least not for a cooked meal. Perhaps they are best at sandwiches and sweet treats. The young co-owner needs to learn how to deal with customers, and to bite her tongue.
Oskar’s Delikatessen, 5 Harbour Road, Hermanus. Tel (028) 313-0629. No website, Monday – Saturday
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com