by Matthew Sterne
on June 14, 2010

The Horny Grazer Review

“I think somebody should come up with a way to breed a very large shrimp. That way, you could ride him, then, after you camped at night, you could eat him. How about it, science?” – Jack Handey

 

I’d been looking forward to trying out Five Flies. It’s in the most fantastic building – now a renovated national monument, it’s a gorgeous Georgian townhouse – period chic. White washed walls and colonial dark wood. Chequered flooring and an internal courtyard create an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere that is also warm and relaxed. The waiters are fantastic – efficient, unobtrusive and professional. As soon as I entered I knew I was going to be a regular here – perhaps it was the nostalgia of days spent as a lawyer in London, but this place really did take me back to Lincoln’s Inn and the High Court on the Strand. No surprise then that it’s in the heart of legal Cape Town which means you’ll find a fair few suited and booted advocates stopping in for the all too enticing happy hour (Mon-Fri, 5-7). The gloomy wood paneled wine bar just off the cobbled courtyard is the ideal spot to pass a chilly winter’s evening chewing the cud with an old mate. But there’s also a more spacious lounge upstairs with deep leather sofas and a flat screen if you need to catch a game. Now for the let down. And unfortunately it’s quite a vital let down. The food. The menu looks delicious – it really was my kind of menu, the sort where you are tormented in your selection because everything just looks sooooo tempting. Saldanha Bay mussels, beef carpaccio, fresh asparagus with orange flavoured hollandaise and red pepper coulis, melon vodka and pear sorbet, grilled kingklip with sweet potato, basil and pinenut crust, grilled red pepper and cumin beurre blanc. Yum.

Five Flies Restaurant

Unfortunately the menu is presented in an unnecessarily complicated series of pricing combinations with supplements for most of the things you’re going to want to eat. Main Course R125.00; Starters & Mains @ R185.00; Mains & Dessert @ R170.00; 3 Course Menu @ R235.00; 4 Course Menu @ R275.00; 5 Course Menu @ R325.00. But what counts as a course? Well apparently a sorbet does. So a sorbet and a rack of lamb with set you back R225 with the supplement. Order wisely. In the end I opted for a classic 80’s combo with a South African twist. The Norwegian shrimp and avocado salad with marie-rose dressing was extremely disappointing – the most drab and unexciting take on the classic I have had since, well, the 80s. Minute, frozen shrimps on a bed of lettuce and a tasteless Marie Rose dressing. My dinner guest had the pan-fried scallops with wilted spinach and vanilla foam. A major improvement on mine, but the scallops were minute and slightly overcooked. Never mind – on to the Springbok Wellington with mushroom duxelle, roasted butternut and foie gras, truffle jus. Sounds good huh? It was good, but it didn’t deliver – it’s not easy to cook a Wellington medium rare, but it’s not impossible either. It’s also not impossible to keep the pastry crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. The pastry was soggy and the springbok was very well done and therefore on the tough side. The whole dish was lacking the richness of flavour I’d expected.

Verdict: Worth visiting for the venue alone. Great wine list, so perhaps better for a happy hour drink than a three-course dinner, but I’d like to give it another go in case the chef just had an off night…

Five Flies Restaurant & Bars
14-16 Keerom Street
Cape Town
Tel: 021 424 4442