At the end of the last chapter, I told you that we decided on having supper at a place called Cappuccino’s in the Greenstone mall near Edenvale in Johannesburg. Under normal circumstances I would put up a review so as to provide good information for visitors. But such a review takes trouble and time – both from my side to write the thing and from your side, dear valued reader, because it’s your time you’re spending reading this blog.
Cappuccino’s was so underwhelming that I shan’t bother. The table was grubby, the order was incorrectly executed, drinks were forgotten, the wait for the food was prodigious, and the pizza was singularly execrable. As with so many of these tiresome eateries, the waiter brings what I suspect they interpret as the holy trinity of Italian cuisine, to wit, three little aluminium pots containing Parmesan, chopped garlic, and chillies. When ours was placed on our table, it gave off a pungent stench of rotting chillies. Closer inspection revealed that the chopped garlic had also been in its pot for so long, the aluminium had begun to colour the outer edges of the garlic.
While we ate, we watched patrons at three other tables experiencing difficulties – all three felt they’d waited too long and had trouble with wrong dishes. The one chap (clearly on a date with his lady) was trying manfully to retain his composure while explaining catastrophic issues with their food and wine… to two managers and the waiter, no less. Eventually they gave up, paid and walked out; their meal half finished. And here’s the thing. These amoral excuses for business people count on the fact that (a) many patrons are either far too polite or fearful to complain, or (b) patrons’ well founded fear of sending food back and having the kitchen staff commit all manner of heinous acts on the food before returning it to the table.
Knowing what I thought of Cappuccino’s, I thought I’d visit their website (http://www.greenstoneshoppingcentre.co.za/shop.htm?shopMGID=6032) to find out what they thought of themselves. Well, I haven’t had such a good laugh in a long time.
Phrases like “finest quality ingredients” are employed with utter disregard for their veracity, and I was floored when I read, “From the moment our customers walk through the door, they know that Cappuccino’s will be a superb dining experience”. If, as they purport, their food is ‘good’, and that customers enjoy a great ‘dining experience’ I can only think that it must happen at another Cappuccino’s outlet, because the Greenstone guys were most definitely having a bad, bad day. So if you want my opinion; I cannot recommend it at all. But go and see for yourself.
On the other end of the scale completely …. And here is some really good news.
By the afternoon of the following day, we’d completed our business and had built up a healthy appetite. With the previous day’s costly and unappetising experience still fresh in our minds we were determined to eat at a place we could count on for good food. For us Col ’Cacchio in World Wear, Fairland, it was like coming home. We’ve eaten there well over 30 times and not once have they had a ‘bad day’. You can read my review here (https://ffchips.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/best-pizza-col-cacchio-ti-amo/)
Arriving at the door we were greeted by a “Hi guys. Good to see you”, radiating from a warmly beaming waiter; not an empty, recited salutation uttered by a saccharine tart with an ambiguous facial contortion that could either be a smile or herald the passage of wind.
We were shown to a table – specials explained – almost in poetry. We ordered lunch – salad and a pizza…. And then two more pizzas for takeaway – as there was nothing for supper and any family restaurant has to fill big shoes if they want to match Col ‘Cacchio in Fairland.
Our man was from Zimbabwe, and such was his personable and engaging demeanour, that we felt comfortable asking him how he felt about the Zimbabwean elections (as it was voting day on the day of our visit). His response was, “Everyone knows Mugabe will win. I prefer living here in South Africa”. Well, we were rather glad he’s living here because he was instrumental in making our lunch that much more enjoyable.
Afterwards we walked around the complex ‘vir oulaas’ [for old time’s sake] and were shocked at the amount of empty shops. The World Wear complex is, at the time of writing, only about 35 percent occupied. We amateur economists here at the institute, use malls as one of the barometric indicators of South Africa’s economy. When the retail sector is depressed, then you can deduce that the manufacturing sector is also suffering. This will mean higher unemployment, lower growth figures and a crime rate that hasn’t been looking very good since 1994. If you look at our current (official) unemployment rate – almost 25.6% – it doesn’t take a very clever person to realise we are far up that certain creek and, with our leaders’ allegiances to some very dodgy governments, we are also giving away the proverbial paddle. As a quick post script, most of South Africa (respected economic journalists included) believe that the unofficial unemployment figures ( >35%) are more accurate.
Armed with the additional pizzas and a more educated picture of the SA economy, we toodled off back to Ruth Avenue for a good night’s kip in preparation for our return journey.
Final chapter of our Johannesburg trip will be posted shortly.