The lower slopes of Table Mountain and the bottom end of the Bree street food district is becoming popular for new and trendy eateries. Having just opened up on New Church street in the shadow of the Mountain, JIAH is a brand new addition to the halaal culinary scene in Cape Town and in barely a week of opening has created a real buzz and stir with high expectations. Not to mention the quirky fact that it is situated beneath an establishment called “The Bedroom”, and that is all I can say about that in this family orientated post. The problem with expectations is that it can really set you up for the worst. So it was with some serious quelling of all expectations that I went out to try JIAH this weekend.
We made a lunch booking for Sunday 12.30pm and arrived to a surprisingly quiet restaurant. After all the hype in social media I expected a fully booked venue. I must admit I was only too glad it was quiet. That way I could really take in the place without too much noise and distraction. We had parked at the Fire and Ice Hotel on New Church street but the entrance is actually on Buitengracht street. So there are a couple of steps up from New Church that brings you around to the entrance. This is definitely not a wheel chair friendly venue unfortunately. We were buzzed in at the gate and shown past the 2 outdoor covered seating areas to the inside. The entrance is dominated by a stunning wooden door leading into a small foyer with reception desk. The decor is smart and monochrome though perhaps a little spare.
We were seated and presented with menus with a special separate menu for gourmet beverages. We opted for mocktails, Cosmo Crush for him and Spicy Mango Crush for me. The Cosmo turned out to be a bit of a girly drink, and my Spicy Mango, with its crushed serrano pepper in was too spicy for me so we ended up swopping. I mentioned to our waitress that I found the drink way too spicy and it was burning my throat. Without further prompting and to their great credit, the waitress returned with a less spicy Spicy Mango Crush on the house.
We quickly ordered a garlic chita for the little guy before the hunger pangs kicked in and settled down to purveying the extensive menu for our own choices. They have a fairly wide variety from salads to pizzas, the usual from the grill and some seafood options. There is even a lobster dish priced over R600 for those looking to really splash. Hubby chose the prawn chaat served with roti whilst I took the fillet steak with a side of roasted veg and Tempura onions. The food took a little long to arrive and it was a good thing we had Taufeeq’s very tasty garlic chita to tide us over. It was big for a chita, thick base and well loaded with cheese. The place started to fill up and the manager changed the background music accordingly so that it was not overly noisy. Some establishments tend to miss this little detail. The steak was perfectly done medium rare and the el denté veg complimented it nicely. Onion rings were crisp and tasty. Nicely plated and even though the steak looked small at first it was more than ample. The prawn chaat was subtle in flavour. I would have preferred a bit more kick but it was very enjoyable. The dish came with a paapar on the side.
We were a little stuffed after but really wanted to try one of the desserts. Trying to choose from the array of delectable sounding dishes was no easy task. I was slightly swayed by the Red Velvet Waffle – Cookies & cream ice cream covered with a nut brittle & a cream cheese glaze but chose instead the Chocolate Heaven – Chocolate mousse, nutella & fresh cream embellished between a chocolate choux pastry topped with strawberries and roasted crunchy nuts, and asked for 3 spoons. And heaven it truly was I thought suppressing audible groans of pleasure between mouthfuls. They have a do it yourself waffle option as well where you can choose your flavour and toppings. The special beverage menu boasts a decadent array of gourmet milkshakes. The ones I saw them making at the bar were huge and suitably decadent looking and at R59 a pop I hope they are worth it. I had no space to even try.
Service was friendly, efficient and, as it wasn’t too busy, unhurried and relaxed. Expect to take your time here, with spaces between your courses. Prices are on the high side but the food is worth it. Our meal in total cost R530 without the tip. It’s not a family style restaurant but it is relaxed enough to take the kids, however I’d like to see more kiddies options on the menu. We were limited to the chita or a chicken pasta, both full portions and too much for a small child. The waitress did tell me they are working on adding some. The ambiance is smart but also casual. You can have a relaxed lunch of burgers and chips but also a romantic dinner with beautiful plating so I am quite keen to go there for a date night soon, yes, we still do that……
Reviewed: 07 December 2016
Medium | R100 - R300, Pricey | R300 - R600, Exclusive | R600 and above,