When you're getting paid to eat out, and deadlines loom, the danger is that sometimes the pleasure of a restaurant experience is lost. It can become a job rather than a passion, as dishes and flavours blur into plates of "sameness". Having said all that, what it does mean is that when a restaurant or meal stands out from the masses it does so because it deserves to. It stands out because it is memorable and special. It is a defining food moment. One of these moments presented itself to me on Saturday. In the middle of a township.
AmaZink Eatery is the brainchild of Bertus Basson, the man behind the fine-dining establishment, Overture. His new venture is poles apart and is a no-nonsense, no frills restaurant in Khayamandi. The decor is a collection of lively coloured wooden chairs and gorgeous painted tables. There is an amphitheater set up with a big screen for watching sport and an outside section where you can watch the goings on of a bustling township. The menu is scribbled on chalkboards in funky fonts and the meat you're about to eat displayed behind glass. Loyiso is the man in charge of a friendly, vibrant staff and he runs the show brilliantly.
I sat down and skeptically ordered a glass of their house white. A pleasant surprise arrived in the form of a cold glass of Chenin Blanc from Ernst Gouws & Co. I asked our waitress about it and it turns out it has been created especially for AmaZink. Nice. To eat, I ordered a vegetable soup to start. It arrived with light, steaming-fresh vetkoek and was an enormous portion. The soup itself tasted like vegetables which already was a lot better than vegetable soups I have had in more expensive settings. With none of the meat being free-range, I asked Loyiso if I could taste some of his pap. What arrived was the biggest plate of food I have seen. Ever. Pumpkin fritters, potato wedges, chakka lakka, spinach, pap, sauce. Alright then. I ate until I couldn't actually face another bite, savouring every bit of food. This was proper food, cooked simply and with a distinct sweetness to the vegetables that is characteristic to the culture. The Queen had a perfectly cooked half Peri-Peri chicken, blackened by an open flame. The same vegetables were offered, this time with a generous combination of samp and beans. Again, brilliantly cooked.
Other options for mains were pork, lamb, chicken, wors and even a platter for two combining everything! We couldn't face desserts but next time I reckon I'll just start with one of them. I already know the malva pudding will be the real deal.
Next time you feel like doing something different, this place is worth a trip. Unfortunately I was driving, but the best way to enjoy this place would be to hire a shuttle, get 10 mates, do a bit of wine-touring and end here for lunch. That - my friends - would be the ultimate day. Who's keen?
P.S. Check out their website on http://www.amazink.co.za