This week I had a real African experience in Woodstock. And not just because of the restaurant I visited. Our Northern African neighbours have become a part of the real fibre of Woodstock increasing the diversity of this Cape Town Improvement District. I was heading for Andalousse Moroccan, a newly opened spot of just on 4 months. It’s hard to spot as the sign is small but it’s right across the Woodstock Police station. Anyone who knows my love hate relationship with Woodstock, will know that this is already a plus in my books.
We found parking fairly close to the restaurant. Walking down the short length of sidewalk towards it, we passed a tiny little shop outside which a lady was just starting a fire over a grill, kind of like the tikka guys in the Indian neighbourhoods. I was curious to know what would be on sale, but you’ll have to wait till the end of this post to discover that.
The entrance to the restaurant is gated off by a big metal gate. Not pretty from the outside but a necessary safety feature for the area I guess. Inside is a different story. It’s not a very big space. A long working counterspace stretches across one side and the other houses 3 comfortable booths big enough for about 6 people each. The front of the store has a larger booth space for a bigger group. Care has been taken to deliver an authentic Moroccan feel. The deep earth and rustic colours resonate with the clay Moroccan patterned tagines and silver teaware lining the counter top. Islamic artwork is set high up on the one wall and Moroccan patterning adorns the front of the long counter.
We are warmly welcomed and seated by Moosa who is one half of the partnership that owns the restaurant. He is also the chef and waiter on this day. He brings us some menu’s and immediately goes off telling us he will be back right away. The feel is of being in a someone’s home. The handful of men in the restaurant look middle eastern and are obviously friends of the owner. They mill about for a while and eventually take their leave as more customers appear. A group of tourists fill up one booth and a group of regulars come by to collect an order. They enjoy some Mint Tea while their order is being prepared.
A few minutes later Moosa reappears with a wooden tray adorned with dainty glasses, an ornate pot of Moroccan tea and a plate of biscuits that look like Italian biscotti but which he calls Fakhaas (I hope I remembered that correctly ????). He pours the hot green tea over fresh mint into the glasses and we sip at the delicious brew while enjoying the biscuits peppered with almonds and flavoured with a hint of aniseed. Moosa has left us some books about Morocco to look at while we are waiting. A nice touch to whet our appetite for more of the culture. We peruse the menu trying to decide what to choose. There is the expected mezze available with a selection of hummus, baba ganoushe, labneh and zaatar. I was happy to note that they also had some simple pizza options which would work for my little one who’s palate is just not that adventurous yet. Grills in the way of chicken or kofta kebabs, shawarmas and different types of tagines all were very tempting and making a choice was difficult. He suggested we have the Kofta Kabab as that included all the items on the Mezze platter plus the Koftas. A half portion would be fine as we would also try the Chicken Tagine with olives. We ordered a medium Chicken pizza for T to be on the safe side.
Now this turned out to be a lot of food. The tagine at R120 contains half a chicken and along with its vegetables and flat bread could easily serve 2 people. The chicken was tender and falling off the bone. The dish had a mild flavour with slight fruity notes due to the olives. The half portion Kofta Kabab at R50 contains 2 generously sized koftas, salads and dips and could be a full meal. The full portion is R80 and contains 3 koftas. The beef koftas were spicy without being too hot. The smokey Baba Ganoush was delicious as was the hummus. The medium pizza topped with Moroccan spiced chicken, pineapple and avo was delicious and a total steal at R50. In total our bill came to R240. The prices in general are very reasonable and there is no skimping on portion sizes.
I spotted a hooka pipe in the corner and was told that they only light up late evenings and always check with dining patrons if it’s ok. They are looking into setting up a hooka lounge at the back of the venue but it’s still in the pipeline. I ventured to the toilet to wash my hands and it’s clean but could really use some work. I liked the very relaxed vibe of the place. While the finishes are rough, the care and passion for the business clearly shows and hospitality was at the forefront. I felt well looked after and considered. And the clincher for me was to discover that on packing our leftovers they had cling wrapped the leftover tagine so it would not spill out of the container and mess the packet or our car. Simple thoughtfulness like that is what makes me want to go back.
So stepping out of Andalousse and back into Woodstock, we head back to our car. Just one door over we pass a pub just starting to get busy and almost at the car, the lady has her wares on the fire. Thick fat sausages and…… Chicken Feet! Yep, I felt like I had been taken back to my Malawi days. Aaaahh Africa, you are so at home in Woodstock.
Casual Dining, Dinner, Lunch,
Cheap | Under R100, Medium | R100 - R300,