Lunch #14: Singularly Unsatisfactory Sushi from The Eastern Palace Sushi Thaifood Noodle Bar

Yesterday I was in a Not Very Good Mood. I woke up in a Not Very Good Mood, which wasn’t improved when I couldn’t figure out what to wear even though I needed to put some clothes on in a hurry if I wasn’t going to be late for work or ride through the streets of Cape Town in my underwear. To top it all, it was Monday and nothing interesting was happening.

So when lunchtime rolled around, I picked up my Not Very Good Mood and took it for a walk. I hoped that if I fed and walked my mood, it might unNot itself and all would be well. It was a perfect day. Sunny, but not hot. Breezy, but not gusting. The roses were in full bloom. The children were feeding squirrels. The tourists were taking photos. I plodded past them like Eeyore on ineffective antidepressants.

As I trudged down Long Street, something caught my eye on the opposite side of the road.

Typical. Just as I try to photograph something a car drives past and covers it up.

Here it is again:

There. See it now? A 50% off sushi special and a R39 lunch box deal.

With slightly lifted spirits, I scurried across the road, through the revolving doors, into the wrong restaurant, back out again, up the stairs and into the Eastern Palace Sushi Thaifood Noodle Bar. Whereupon my spirits sat back down, crossed their arms and pouted.

A scene from Dante’s Third Circle of Hell: Melancholic Sushi-Eaters Stuck In An Eternal Lunch Hour

It was too late to retreat as a waitress had already spotted me and ushered me into a seat at the sushi bar. On examination of the flyer, the R39 lunch box was about as exciting as something they’d serve in a school cafeteria in Blackpool, and the seared tuna option wasn’t available. Without daring to examine the rotating sushi too closely, I opted for that instead.

Usually I am an economical sushi eater for the simple reason that sushi makes me feel full. One eight-piece roll and I’m done. However, it took three plates of four pieces each before I gave up yesterday. Not that I was replete. Rather, I realised that eating a small bowl of Tastic sprinkled with wasabi, ginger and soy sauce would have been tastier and more satisfying. It would almost certainly have been cheaper too.

Sad Stack: At R45, my three plates of sushi weren’t even worth the half-price price.

The moral of the story: If you’re in a Not Very Good Mood, don’t try to get out of it with half-price sushi.

On the bright side, at least this wasn’t my car.


Lunch #13: Quiche, Salad and White Chocolate Tart from Bread, Milk and Honey

I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned it, because it’s a bit embarrassing, but after the Yummy Politician and I spent a week at Bulungula over New Year’s and ate enormous quantities of Xhosa bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner while doing Not Very Much in between, I’ve been on a Strict Diet. A Strict Diet (for me) involves drinking fewer than five  units of alcohol a day, not eating Xhosa bread (much easier since we left Bulungula) and not having pudding with every meal except breakfast (and, at a push, not having pudding for breakfast).

As a result, I’ve been avoiding one of my favourite lunch places of late. Perhaps I should apologise for not writing about this place sooner, but I get the feeling that everyone who’s ever been in Cape Town for more than 30 seconds knew about Bread, Milk and Honey before I did. Certainly every Member of Parliament, parliamentary lawyer and environmental lobbyist does. So did the Colleague Who Likes Vintagey Things And Doesn’t Tell People About Nice Food Markets. So, you probably know Bread, Milk and Honey too, but I’m going to write about it anyway. So there.

Bread, Milk and Honey is on Spin Street, which I think is possibly the best name for a street I’ve ever come across. There is a hydro-power installation somewhere in South Africa called The Collywobbles, which is the best name for anything in the world ever. We drove past the sign for it on the way back from Bulungula. I didn’t get a photo because we were going a bit fast.

On the face of it, Bread, Milk and Honey, which serves lots of tasty, healthy salads, would seem to be the ideal place for a Person On A Strict Diet to go. There are two crosses against it, however.

Cross #1: There’s a buffet. A very good buffet.

Crap photo. Excellent buffet.

I’ve written about my problem with diets and good buffets before. Fortunately, the problem is only severe when the buffet is free. The BMH buffet costs about R5/gram (so less than the Melissa’s buffet, but still on the high side for my spartan lunch budget). Over time I’ve worked out that if I get a quiche and a couple of spoons of salad, I can feel both virtuous and economical. I’m a pro by now, so my portion yesterday cost R30,80.

Cross #2: The Puddings

See how good they are? Some of them are finished already. The plates with none left or only one left add a sense of urgency to pudding purchases.

This is much more tricky to deal with. Yesterday I breathed a big sigh of relief because my Nemesis, The Dark Chocolate Tart, was not there. However, if you look to the left of the photograph, you’ll notice danger lurking.

Yup, they had a NEW kind of chocolate tart: a White Chocolate Tart With Berries. There was only one left…

The guy behind the counter told me it was ‘very good’. Which is more than I can say for myself.

Lunch #12: The Eleven-Egg Omelette at The Company Gardens with Seven Fashionable Women

Recently, someone I work with got older. (It was, in fact, the colleague who utterly failed to inform me about the Earth Fair Food Market.) This colleague is fond of Vintage things, so we decided to celebrate by eating lunch somewhere with a Vintage Vibe. Since the restaurant at The Company Gardens hasn’t updated its menu since the 80s, it was the obvious choice. As an added bonus, it is also possibly the only restaurant in the world with a tornado in the middle of its seating area.

OMG! A tornado! In the middle of the tea garden! Flee!

Okay, it’s actually a tree. But I think it does a jolly good impression and deserves some encouragement.

The day the Colleague Who Likes Vintage Things chose to age on was also the day Cape Town chose to start having a heat wave. ‘Heat wave’ is actually a stupid phrase. Waves are cool things that rush past leaving you refreshed, if somewhat sandy in out-of-the-way places. This heat wave (which is still going strong, by the way, which is why I’m spending lunch at my computer blogging, instead of roaming around looking for cheap crap to buy)… sorry, this heat wave is more like being caught in a lava flow – long, slow and extremely uncomfortable.

Anyway, I and seven very fashionably-dressed women exited the coolth of our air-conditioned office, walked several hundred metres in the blistering sun and sat in the shade pretending to be comfortable.

One table ordered toasted sandwiches and chips. The other table ordered omelettes and salad. I happened to be at the omelette table. I had planned to order a toasted sandwich and chips, but realised my mistake just in time and ordered the cheese and tomato omelette.

One of the charms of The Company Gardens restaurant is that they use Vintage Cheese. This is the kind of cheese they made before people realised that cheese wasn’t naturally bright orange and that we’d probably be better off with fewer colourants in our food. The Company Gardens restaurant was also obviously suffering from a Surfeit Of Eggs.

This is a painful condition for any restaurant. When you have an egg surfeit, it’s very important to find a simple, strategic way to get rid of them, fast. Eggs are not only tricky to store, being fragile, but they give off a terrible pong when time runs out. And so, restaurateurs of the world, I present to you The Grand Solution To A Surfeit of Eggs (courtesy of The Company Gardens): The Eleven-Egg Omelette!

This picture doesn’t do the Eleven-Egg Omelette justice, since seven of the eleven eggs have already been eaten. Sorry about that.