It was one of those #wildbunchdinners where you don’t want it to end, but the hours pass too quickly and you realise that you have a 9-to-5 job you have to be bright eyed and bushy tail for in the morning, so you begrudgingly pay the bill and say your goodbyes with take-out box in hand. But really it’s the kind of place Capetonian’s don’t usually share with their friends in the hopes of keeping it – selfishly but quite understandably – to themselves. But that’s what’s the #wildbunchdinners are for right?
So, it was no surprise that the #wildbunch would eventually make their rounds to Larry and Sarah Steenkamp’s bolt-hole which is hidden away in a quiet, green patch of wind-central Vredehoek. The suburb, skirting just beyond the hum of activity in the City Bowl overlooking the city, the devil is in the detail and at first glance the hand-picked furnishings add to the woodsy vintage look of the place: succulents and potted plants hanging along the patio walls, the red brick flooring, and the rustic communal table with mismatched chairs in pastel tones. You would be easily fooled into thinking that things just “fell into place” rather being the result of a mild OCD about detail and balance. If the exterior offers a fairy-tale-cabin-in-the-woods vibe, the interior makes you feel like you’ve stepped into Alice in Wonderland. It might be the rabbit figurine on the wooden shelf that does it, sitting next to old books, clocks, frames, and other cute knickknacks. Quirky artworks dot the walls, and from the ceiling hangs an eclectic collection of lampshades, the centrepiece covered with birds that would do any hipster proud.
But we were there for the food. With a drastically paired down menu (the previous incarnation was cumbersome) that follows food trends (think gourmet pizzas, Korean Taco’s, banting friendly salads) but also is unpretentious and true to itself. This is after all an eatery known for its pizza and burgers. While some of the #wildbunch remember the assortment of pastas which have fallen off the menu the concept of a harvest table has become the norm, and everyone picked from everyone else’s plates. Spirits are buoyed by a reasonable wine and beer list (it is still one of the few eateries that stocks my favourite craft naturally fermented fiery alcoholic Dragon Ginger Beer) and service can be slow when the place is fully booked (which is like every night) however if you don’t mind lingering a little longer and letting the world outside pass you by the staff are always good humoured and accommodating so it all balances out in the wash in the end.