Saturday, 11 August 2007

Josephine's, Montagu

Montagu is slightly confusing; while at first sight it appears to be a little Cape winelands dorp, if you explore a little through the streets you find that actually the higher end of town (away from the Kogmanskloof river... which floods spectacularly every few years) is filled with very larnie residences owned as holiday homes or weekend getaways by rich Capetonians. As a result, the town has a couple of decent restaurants, and we decided to visit Josephine's, a lovely little 19th century house on Bath Street, right in the middle of town.

The innovative menu includes Cape Dutch, Malay, Indian and Thai dishes: I had red Thai chickpea and banana curry, followed by tiramisu. The companion had kudu fillet in red wine sauce, with pear crumble tart and cream. A lovely fiery curry was packed with aromatic flavours, but the tiramisu was very odd and really rather nasty - consisting of layers of dry sponge cemented together with unsweetened cream cheese, dredged in cocoa. No coffee, no marsala, no fun.

The companion raved about his kudu, and it looked lovely, with a rich, wine-dark sauce and beautifully-cooked vegetables; while I sneaked a spoonful of his robust pear tart, topped with crunchy crumble. The friendly but very flustered waitress was utterly overwhelmed by four tables of customers - God only knows what would have happened if anyone else had arrived for dinner - and forgot a couple of drinks orders. She also made the mistake of switching on the overhead lights three-quarters of the way through our meal, transforming the dining room with a flick of a switch from a dusky, romantic space lit by paraffin lamps and candles into a shabby parlour illuminated by a couple of bare and glaring overhead bulbs. Not a good idea.

I'd be delighted to have a local restaurant like Josephine's in my home town, although I wonder how often the menu changes - I didn't notice any daily specials, and a limited menu could get boring quite quickly.

63 Bath Street
Eastern Cape

Tel: (023) 614 3939

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