Friday, February 5, 2010

Mzoli's a Braai experiance like you have never had a must do if you in Cape Town

Mzoli’s is the quintessential meat restaurant and has achieved somewhat iconic status in Cape Town, but beware it is not for the feint of heart, an intimate dinning experience it ain’t, But if you take your meat seriously, love a great vibe, don’t mind thumping music and are happy to either bring your own wine & glasses or buy a few quarts from the shabeen, sorry tavern then Mzoli’s is definitely the place.

The beauty of the place is the simplicity of the concept. Mzoli’s is primarily butchery; you walk into a busy room that has a huge display fridge running the entire length of one side of it with the most amazing meat on offer. 80% of what’s available is lamb but there is also some chicken, pork chops and a bit of beef.
When it is your turn you simply point out the various pieces of meat to one of the myriad of assistants behind the counter. It is all weighed and placed in a huge enamel dish. You pay at the till point at the end of the line and are given your dish, which in our case was overflowing with various cuts which you can choose.
You then precede down a long corridor to a huge braai area where you hand your meat over to the most important man in the place; the man who oversees all of the cooking. He politely orders people around both staff & customers alike and is more of a general coordinating an elaborate battle. You are given a number and told when to return; anything from 30 minutes up to an hour depending on how busy they are. We were there on a rocking Sunday afternoon and there were about 800 – 1000 people in attendance – our food took 40 minutes. Look, we were there with a business associate of Mzoli himself and got the royal treatment.
You collect your meat at the appointed time and head for your table. Accompaniments available are a bowl of pap (white polenta), some chakalaka (a fiery local tomato relish) and half a loaf of bread. Our royal treatment included plates. Everything is communal and everything is eaten by hand.

The food itself was magnificent, we had in front of us about 3½ kg of meat – lamb chops, lamb ribs, rump steak, chicken breast & leg, lamb leg chops and lamb sausage all of it cooked to perfection and I mean to perfection. Everything beautifully seasoned and some basted with a magical BBQ sauce of their own making.
As you would imagine I spent a fair deal of time watching the guys’ outback on the fire and it was something to see. They cook on 6 huge Jet master type built in braais with a proper flue. There is a huge grid that runs ¾ of the way across the braai; the last ¼ is where the wood fire is built and the hot smoldering coals are then shoveled across under the meat.

These cooks know exactly what they are doing – the chicken is placed on the fire first followed by the lamb rib. Each cut is put on at the appropriate time with the lamb sausage being last so that each table’s meat is all ready at precisely the same time all faultlessly cooked.