[A guest review by my good friend Bar Bar Blake Sheep]
Last Saturday, some friends and I visited the much acclaimed Bar Bar BlackSheep in Riebeeck Kasteel for a birthday lunch. We booked in advance, and were really looking forward to our meal after reading some great reviews online. On arrival, the setting and atmosphere were great, and we were seated at a long table in a shaft of afternoon sunlight.
We started with a bottle of champagne, which arrived slightly warm and in need of an ice bucket. Easily remedied. In high spirits, we started to deliberate over the mouth-watering descriptions of meals on the menu. It took us a while to decide on what we wanted, but while placing our orders we sadly were informed that 4 of the dishes we wanted were not available (including the much-recommended lamb burger and fishcakes). Slightly disappointed, we placed orders for our second (or, in some cases, third) options.
Our anticipation built over the hour and a half it took to prepare our food, and by the time it arrived we were ravenous. After much deliberation I had decided to order the pumpkin pie – ‘sold’ by the description of the accompanying mash and gravy, and a red onion relish of some description. Neither the gravy nor the relish arrived, and when I questioned the waiter he returned with about 2 tablespoons of cold, congealed gravy in the bottom of a small cup, informing me that the red onions were “in the gravy”. Right. I’m normally not one to complain, but for R95 I figured I could at least ask for the gravy to be warmed to a pourable consistency. When the waiter returned he gave me some sort of lamb gravy in a different cup. Fortunately, I am not a devout vegetarian. Gravy aside, the pie and the mash were pretty flavourless and a bit on the cold side, but the meal had taken so long to prepare and I was so hungry at this point that complaining didn’t seem a viable option.
Besides the company, the setting and the battered onion rings, my Ba Ba Blacksheep experience was unspectacular. I couldn’t help thinking that I could have bought a tastier Woolies pie for a tenth of the price, and would have got better service from the Spur. After the hype, I was thoroughly disappointed with my meal, and a number of my fellow diners expressed dissatisfaction with theirs – particularly the birthday girl who ordered a butternut salad and received a plain salad (due to an ‘unforeseen’ butternut shortage).
The whole experience lacked polish, and I got the distinct impression that the manager had better things to do than ensure we had a great experience deserving of the hefty price tag. The only apology we received was from the waiter for the movie-length wait for the food, and for this he deducted the cost of the bottle of white wine we ordered (which, coincidentally, also arrived warm). I don’t know if the manager had taken the afternoon off to watch the rugby, or whether this is all part of the ‘laid back’ vibe, but for that kind of money I really expected something special… or average at the very least.