I've got Pafoof staying with me at the moment. She's down from JHB scouting a few venues as she looks for a place to host her next client dinner. Somewhere, somehow, someone suggested The Pepper Club in Camps Bay. We went there last night to check it out with The Quad and his lovely girlfriend who were here from England. Was it suitable for the vibe Pafoof was looking for? Unfortunately not. Why? Well...she's not too keen on expensive, average food in a place with slow service and zero atmosphere.
Look, I'll be the first to admit that last night wasn't the best night to show off Camps Bay. The wind was pumping, it was raining and the impressive views from the restaurant were rendered pretty much useless as we were forced inside. But still. Was that the reason we were literally THE ONLY table there? In a 100+ seater restaurant. I think not.
After arriving at 8 o'clock we eventually got our starters after 9. They consisted of the prawn tempura (good batter, good prawns, terrible dipping sauces), a house salad (absolutely massive but fresh) and the salmon tartare (good, well seasoned.) By now 2 people had made their way to the bar and I was beginning to understand why the place was called a bar SLASH restaurant. Those two had really got the place humming. In fact, if I leaned forward far enough, I could actually hear them talking. It was getting wild.
Onto the mains (after 10 o'clock). The Quad and I both had the nori and sesame crusted salmon which sounded fantastic but under-delivered in everything except price (R135). It was bland and overcooked. Pafoof had the linefish which was kobeljou (R125). Her dish was the best of the night and was beautifully cooked and nicely presented. The Queen had a sirloin steak which I found to be tough. It was pretty good in terms of flavour though. The Quad's girlfriend had a vegetable tempura platter which was also not bad. Good batter and fresh vegetables at least.
An interesting part of the menu (which is huge by the way. Ranging from prawn platters to venison to pasta to grills to chicken etc) was their desserts. They had some guilt-free options and we tried the cheesecake. The actual cheesecake was perfect in terms of texture and flavour but the blueberry "coulis" it came with was without doubt one of the worst and strangest things I have ever eaten. They looked like blueberries that had been dried and then re-hydrated. When you put them in your mouth they were chewy and then sticky and then totally dry. Imagine a tiny blue piece of cotton wool soaked in blueberry juice. Weird. And not in a good way.
The Pepper Club may well heave in summer on a beautiful night. The bar area might be packed with shmodels having cocktails when the sun is shining. But that's really not good enough in a fickle Cape Town restaurant scene. You need to be consistently busy and consistently good. Busy and good. Last night it was neither.
Oh, did I mention the waiter asking for his tip in cash? No? Well...yeah, that was weird. Also, there was the cleaning staff packing up the chairs around us as we ate. Hardly ideal.
If you still want to go there call them on (021) 812-8888.