by Matthew Sterne
on June 24, 2010
The Horny Grazer Review

I am very fond of this place. Especially the Snug which is the aptly named pub on the side with Foresters on tap and a real “neighbourhood” vibe. Perfect for a broody winter’s evening.

Societi Bistro Cape TownSocieti Bistro serves my kind of food – authentic Italian fare made with really good ingredients. Societi bills itself as a “neighbourhood local” – a sanctuary for Capetonians and visitors looking for a home from home. And really, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better mushroom risotto this side of the Appian Way. The sumptuous depth of flavour is created from an intense mushroom duxelle. We also tried the risotto special – apple and pancetta. Equally delicious with the sweetness of the apple offset by the smoked flavour of the pancetta.

The menu is satisfyingly basic; six starters, six pastas/risottos, ten mains and six puddings, with a handful of specials. But if you’re only going to have a choice of six starters, three of them cannot be so meaty – ox tongue, lamb’s liver and bone marrow. Too much meat and too many cheap ingredients. Hearty for the winter though and of course you could always have a small portion of risotto or pasta as a starter.

Societi Bistro Cape TownIn fact, if I go again, I may well have a risotto as a starter and as a main. Carbocide to most Capetonians, but I ain’t scared. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Apart from their mushroom risotto! Coming in at R96 though – these are not “neighbourhood local” prices. Unless of course your neighbourhood is Bel Air or Chelsea.

The other peculiar thing about this neighbourhood is that most of the waiting staff are a little odd. Our waiter was in fact intensely irritating, I feel bad because he was trying hard, but he was a right helicopter – awkward and intrusive, topping up or clearing something whenever humanly possible. A service assault. Really not in keeping with the relaxed, familial vibe they’re after…

Societi Bistro Cape TownWe splashed out a little on a Waterford Cab Sav to wash down our meal – one of my favourite wines and always a heavy and peppery treat. The wine list is great and very reasonably priced with a commendably marginal mark up. Look out too for the Thelema Sauvignon Blanc.

For my main course, I had the queen prawns with nero pasta, garlic and chilli. Flavour was great, but the prawns were dry and not plump or juicy. At R156 I wanted plump and juicy prawns. The lamb shank was very good – rich and hearty as it should be but not special enough to charge R136.

I rounded things off with a mighty fine baked cheesecake – a classic and this was a very good one.

Societi Bistro nearly achieves the “neighbourhood local “ vibe to which it aspires. They just need to watch the prices because these are not expensive ingredients. It’s good old fashioned Italian cooking and should be priced accordingly. That’s where the appeal lies.

Societi Bistro
50 Orange Street
Cape Town 8001
021 424 2100