10:30 - 21:00 Sun to Thurs
11:30 - 22:00 Sat
10:30 - 22:00 Sun
Price Range (p/p)
Medium | R100 - R300
My first experience of Fordsburg was driving in from Carr Street after dark on a Saturday night. Now being from Cape Town and having heard about this
We entered Fordsburg through what seemed like a beaten up industrial area. It was deserted so seemed even more eerie than it might normally be. Shortly the streets started getting a bit busier and lit-up shop fronts came into view. We saw a hub of restaurants and for a minute I was in foodie despair as all these new options opened up to be tried and I did not know where to begin. Before I descended into a flat panic of indecision, my husband seized the moment and chose for us. Being a big fan of Portuguese food, Calisto’s it would be.
We were early enough to find parking right outside and were met at the door by a friendly team of waiters. We were seated at a table of our choosing as they were not very busy at all. The décor inside is that of a cosy family restaurant. The dark green and red colours were deepened by low lighting for the dinner crowd. A bloggers nightmare but great for mellow evening ambiance.
Our waiter was attentive, upbeat and knew the menu well. He was good at sussing us out and suggested we try the platter for 2 offer which comes with a starter and dessert to share, 2 mocktails and a platter for 2 for R550. The platter is served in a chaffing dish kept warm with a burner underneath and comes with 6 prawns, half a peri peri chicken, their rump in the oven steak with chips and rice. They serve their signature sauce on the side and also brought me a lemon butter sauce, which I had heard much about when I enquired about it. The prawns which come with a creamy sauce on top is easily some of the best prawns I’ve had. The lemony Portuguese flavour coming through without too much heat. The steak which is cut similar to hasselback potatoes had an excellent flavour, just the right amount of lemony, smokey chilliness. The peri peri chicken had almost a tikka flavour and was also very good. We had asked for the hot version of this main but I did not find any of what we ate to be seriously hot. The heat was quite manageable, even for our Cape Town palates.
We were going to choose the stuffed calamari starter to share but our waiter suggested we do the fried halloumi instead as he thought the calamari was too small a portion to share. The starter was artfully presented but I found the halloumi itself a bit dry. Before the starter came we saw they had a small salaah room near the front which people had been using as it was around magrib time.
For dessert we could choose from one of the cakes in the display cabinet. We opted for the many layered Mozart cake which was served with cream and ice cream. This was really good but alas could not be finished. A strong espresso was needed afterwards to cut through all the richness and did the trick quite nicely. The coffee brand used is Nicola. It’s the second time I’ve come across this brand in Johannesburg. The first time we had it as an Americano and I found it rather weak. This time as an espresso the flavour and strength was much better.
The bill came with a 10% gratuity added on already. The small print on the bill said it was a suggested gratuity and there was no obligation to pay it, however I doubt too many people will have the nerve to request it be removed from the bill.
The menu is fairly big and starters include Portuguese favourites like Trinchado, Chicken Livers and Squid Heads. They also have a clay oven for pizzas and a small pasta menu. I spotted traditional dishes like Mozambican Crab Curry, Espetada and Bacalhau. The Bacalhau dishes need to be pre-ordered and are pricier at about R180. Most of the other mains average at R120 to R150. They have a kids menu for the under 12’s. The fish fingers and chips are even cheaper than the Spur at R25.
The meal we chose was good value for 2 people if you’re going to make a night of it, but you can eat here for less than R550 for 2 people. For my first foray into Fordsburg this was a memorable meal.