Secret Diner: A meal worth saving the last bottle of wine for

By The Secret Diner Time of article published May 23, 2020

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Where: Silvervause Centre, Silverton Road, Berea

Open: Wednesday to Sunday noon to 6pm

Call: 0312013470/ 0823713030

We had been looking forward to it for months. A wine dinner at Cafe 1999, the week before lockdown. That was until the day before the restaurant alcohol restrictions were brought in and the event had to be abruptly cancelled.

Nearly 60 days later, spent solely at our own diningroom tables and after a plethora of weird and wonderful dishes tried, with varying degrees of success, we were still hankering for Marcelle Roberts’ delectable food.

Then a WhatsApp came through. Roberts and her husband, Shaun, had opened their Unity restaurant and were offering a three-course weekend lunch for delivery, for a very reasonable R275 a head. We jumped at the opportunity and put the very last bottle of white wine on ice for the occasion.

I set the table posh. Had the oven on low to keep the food warm and the plates hot. The chef arrived herself, properly masked, to make a cheery delivery. Full marks for service.

We started with a garden salad, with generous lashings of avocado, olives and shavings of Parmesan, on a lovely selection of leaves tossed in a honey mustard dressing. It was simple, but all the more delicious for not having to make it myself.

Then came the fresh kingklip, in a classic recipe. It’s lightly dusted with seasoned flour and pan fried in butter with capers, the pan juices making a simple but delicious sauce. It was served with a buttery mash and green beans. Full marks here too. Although I have to apologise because I’m sure my plating is not quite up to the restaurant’s standards. It’s the freshness of the fish, too, that makes this dish.

We finished the wine before enjoying a slice a Persian orange cake, that’s sweetened with honey and orange syrup or drizzle over it. Yum.

And then we went big. With some cheese and fresh ciabatta I had bought, we cracked the penultimate bottle of red. We would survive the rest of the lockdown on the cooking brandy and a mystery bottle of white spirit, with Russian writing on it, that we assume is vodka. And there’s always an ancient bottle of ouzo, that’s been lurking in the back of the cupboard for 20 years. It looks like it might just kill Covid-19. I’m sure the orange man would approve.

This weekend, Roberts, in a throwback to their days at Pizzetta, is offering a selection of gourmet pizzas. The gorgonzola with onion marmalade pizza was always a favourite although I’m hankering after the duck with hoisin sauce option.

Food: Delightful

Service: With a smile

Ambience: A good few notches up from groundhog day

The Independent on Saturday

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