The Camps Bay, Cape Town, strip is often referred to as South Africa’s ‘Riviera’. A small version of Les Promenade des Anglais in Nice – without the huge hotels.


[Camps Bay from the webcam in the teeth of a Cape South-Easter. It’s an Ill wind that blows no good ….. of a time to come?]

Admonished by our friend Judy that we needed to ‘get out more’, we decided to treat ourselves to a return visit (the last was in July 2009) to The Grand – an imposing looking restaurant, but definitely one to be seen in and to commemorate the occasion of ‘getting out’.

A booking was duly made (you don’t just pitch up!) and we were notified that the Grand could accept us at 9pm on Friday evening. We arrived – drenched in aftershave and perfume, neatly attired and ready for a repeat of the fabulous peri-peri baby chicken.

Our table for two was not quite ready and we were shown to the bar. After a rather perplexed look, the barman poured a house rose (with ice) and informed us that they had two draught beers – Peroni and Jack Black. Loyal to the end, I ordered Jack Black. “Ah!”, exclaimed our barman, “we’ve run out”. Peroni it was.

We repaired to our now ready table, laid for four. A friendly chap came up and announced that although he was not our waiter, here were our menus. A quick skim. No peri-peri chicken! Horror! “All is not lost” said the man who was not our waiter. “I’ll see if the kitchen can cook one for you.”

Alas, he returned with a negative. No problem – Avocado Ritz (R75) on the menu. An old favourite.

“We’ll have one”, I asked. “No, sorry sir” said the man who was not our waiter, “we have no avocados tonight.”


[an Avocado Ritz – not exactly 3 star Michelin. On the menu but only available to selected patrons]

OK – two mains were ordered – mussels with frites and a Kingklip special. On asking our man who was not our waiter what accompanied the Kingklip, we were informed “you get the fish, lemon butter sauce in a dish and on a saucer”. Right. We order chips (R25) and spinach (R25).

As we waited, chatted and gazed at the avalanche of Botox and face lifts (in my next life I’m going to be Cape Town plastic surgeon). The man who was not our waiter carried starters to the neighbouring table – two avocado ritzes!

We waited politely and stopped him. “We thought there were no avocados”……… “No madam, they’re very small and I didn’t think you would like ones so small”. We laughed and he laughed too.

Another waiter passed – we asked again about the avocados…. “oh, they’ve just arrived” (it was 21h10 on a Friday evening in Cape Town – deliveries? No)

They do not even lie in unison.

Our meal arrived. The Kingklip (R120 plus R50 for the spinach and chips)was good, the sauce was, well, butter and there was a saucer. The mussels numbered 15 for the princely sum of R80. (In the South of France, nogal, you would get a large saucepan of about 40 mussels and frites for 9 euros (approx R100).

Madame had some juice lurking at the bottom of her little pot. We spotted bread rolls on all the other tables we had none. Without further ado, we summoned the man who was not our waiter and asked if there was a reason why we didn’t get rolls (maybe, we thought giving them the benefit of the doubt, it was because we did not order starters).

“Oh”, said the man who was not our waiter, “they were still in the oven but they’re out now”.

He laughed. Our sense of humour was being stretched and then our waiter arrived! He asked if we were ‘ok’ – we asked in reply for the bill.

As we perused the bill (R270), a smart man in a blue shirt passed. Theo Pearson, the manager. We told him the story. He told us that this had never happened before. Period. Over and Out. Roger that. We notified him that one of our party was a journalist from France. He fled – this has not happened before being repeated like a Buddhist chant.

Thoroughly exasperated at this stage we went downstairs to the lower level to pay and saw Theo again. We asked if the very least he could do was not to either say ‘sorry, give us a coffee or horror of horrors ‘comp’ us the meal’.

Theo’s answer? ‘I think you should leave, this has never happened before.’

We left. Never, ever to return again.

Compare this to a great breakfast at the Sandbar, superb service and vibe at Caprice and amazing value and vibe at Bayside Cafe (all on the strip, all competing with one another). In the next issue of Cape Odyssey, I’ll be talking again about two restaurants which have raised the bar in 2010 – Marianas and Heaven.

The Grand? I hear the rustling of feathers as chicken make themselves ready to come home to roost as soon after the World Cup hordes have left.

They will deserve it.

Dear friends and readers – avoid. 7Eleven sandwiches will leave you feeling much happier with life.


6 Responses to “The Grand Restaurant – a blight on the Camps Bay landscape”

  1. Chris on February 21st, 2010 9:16 pm

    I love going to the Grand, and the avacado ritz is my absolute favourite. We had the same experience as you with the avacado ritz and beer order at the Grand on the Beach – you can have any beer you like, as long it is a Peroni!

  2. Ruan on February 23rd, 2010 7:56 am

    Reading this made me laugh, the Peroni part especially, considering what happened to a patron at the Grand Cafe & Beach after ordering a Peroni. Read here:

  3. Kate on February 23rd, 2010 12:42 pm

    Interestingly, we had a similar experience. We asked our waitress if anything came with the calamari main course we ordered. She said – just the calamari and the garlic/ lemon butter. Fortunately, we decided to wait before ordering the side dishes. And, lo and behold, when our calamari arrived, so did 2 bowls of chips….. which we didn’t want, nor did we eat. What a waste!

  4. Toni on February 24th, 2010 7:49 am

    Have been to the Grand – Granger Bay about 5 times. Each time the service is worse than the time before and I am shocked at the lack of organisation. I will not be going back, and I know I am not alone in this sentiment.

  5. courtney on February 25th, 2010 5:51 pm

    for me it’s a lie i always go there the service is good,food is perfect my waiter jackson give me what i want.

  6. Michelle Oxnam on August 12th, 2011 7:16 am

    My brother recommended I might like this website. He was totally right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

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