Happy New Year! Many of you will be still be nursing hangovers or working on acquiring new ones before settling down to making a living. I’ve found that the best cure for a hangover is usually a stiff drink. Fortunately, I greeted 2017 in the bright sunshine of Cape Town where getting a drink is rarely an issue.
At the waterfront, a group of brave men and women were embarking on the Cape Town to Rio yacht race. The Life Coach scored us tickets to the Maserati enclosure. Maserati makes beautiful cars that leak oil and break down often. This is possibly not the most auspicious association when you are setting off on a perilous crossing of the Atlantic. However, the drinks were free, and the occasionally tearful friends and family of the sailors were supporting them by imbibing deeply.
It was all very glamorous. Apart from the families of the sailors (blubbing salt of the earth types) there were the usual people one would expect to find at a Maserati event. Grizzly sun tanned chaps with large gold watches, sporting young female companions with pneumatic mammaries, were keen to tell you how big their yachts were. We escaped in search of more solid sustenance.
The Life Grand Cafe is the newest restaurant on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. Five years in the making, it is housed in a building personally commissioned by Price Albert in 1902 on the instruction of Queen Victoria. Maira Koutsoudakis, one half of the couple behind the restaurant made her name as an interior designer and it shows. There are rattan ceilings with fans stirring the salty sea air, impeccably curated quirky design features, three different levels of dining, with a cocktail bar, and private dining facilities. Maira is a friend of a friend and greets us personally.
The Grand Cafe will be a success, partly because of the location and mostly because Maira is a force of nature; the kind of woman you would never bet against. She has her work cut out for her because although open for just a few weeks, the Life Grand Cafe has picked up a reputation for hilariously bad service.
We contemplate death by electrocution as a manager snags a large folding parasol on a string of hanging lights draped above us. The cocktail menu is extensive but guaranteed to disappoint. Instead, we order a bottle of the reliable Graham Beck Cap Classique – a decent local sparkling wine. Forty minutes pass. Multiple waiters and managers are consulted at regular intervals. A warm bottle finally arrives. We wait for it to cool in an ice bucket. Meanwhile, a keen waiter observes us sitting back, grabs the ice bucket and starts to walk away.
Me: “Wait, what are you doing?”
Waiter: “Aren’t you done?”
Me: “No, the bottle hasn’t even been opened yet!”
Waiter: “Do you still want it?”
Fiercely guarding our bottle, we sat back to enjoy the view. The location is fabulous, with yachts in the foreground and views of Table Mountain, Lions Head and Signal Hill in the background. One of our number leaves her seat to show us a photograph on her phone. A waiter promptly snatches her vacant chair and offers it to another table. Maira is going to need all of her talents to make this place work.
I wish her and all of you a bright and prosperous 2017!