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Chakalaka – eaten and reviewed

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With the days getting darker, colder, wetter and all together more depressing and my time in South Africa feeling all the more a distant memory I thought now was probably the best time to start of my restaurant quest and get the memories of my awesome holiday flowing back to me like the salt river I got stuck on the wrong side of by popping down to Putney to sample the South African delights of Chakalaka (try saying after a few drinks – I did and got some rather bizarre results!)

To summarise

A photo of Chakalaka

136 Upper Richmond Road, Putney,SW15 2SP

If you are looking for a good hearty steak or are looking to gain an insight into South African cooking (and wine making) then you won’t be going far wrong by dropping in. Specially imported ingredients provide the right taste and the generous portions ensure that you get enough opportunities to taste it. Don’t take a vegetarian here if you ever want to see them again!

Ross says – 7 out of 10

To waffle

The big steak (crap photo due to camera problems) Creamy, delicious milk tart - yum yumWhen an ethnically themed restaurant does not have a bunch of ethnically themed tat plastered on the walls you can pretty much guess that their main cliental are going to be ex-pats of that country; this was indeed the case here as I think I was sitting on the only table without at least one South African! From this we can also guess that the food available is going to be traditional cooking from home to stop the getting home sick.

This was certainly what was available with all manner of South African ‘classics’ (at least I’m guessing they are classics) such as Boerewors, Bobotie, Kudu steak, Ostrich fillets and Potjie alongside premium quality Namibian meat cooked on the grill. There were also a few rather out of place looking options such as lamb shank and beef stroganoff but not wanting to look anymore ‘foreign’ than I actually was I stayed clear of them (and I heard a few comments arising from other tables which made me wonder how often these dishes were actually ordered…) and went for:

  1. Boerewors and Chakalaka (spicy tomato based sauce)
  2. 25 oz T-Bone Steak (they gave me a t-shirt for finishing it!)
  3. Sanet’s Milk Tart
  4. washed down with a bottle of wine from the place were I saw this goatey looking fella

Everything was indeed very tasty – the steak was especially well cooked to a lovely, but not too bloody, medium rare and the milk tart was a great way to finish the meal – creamy, sweet and delicious with a real cinnamon kick. The service started off a bit shit but the longer the night went on and the more I got talking to them the nicer they got – I did not expect a t-shirt for finishing the steak (to be honest I didn’t think it was THAT big) as I had especially avoided their large steak (which if you finish in under 25 minutes you get a t-shirt) but I got one anyways; though it is a large so don’t expect to see me wearing it anytime soon!

The place got pretty busy so if you are looking to go at the weekend I’d book ahead to ensure you get in (I think I did see some people get shunted out), the amount of people gave the place a real energetic buzz which was helped by the bottle of wine I had. Prices were pretty good (my meal cost £54) but of course compared to South African prices they are a shocker – especially the wine, I know were my bottle came from and therefore know its real cost! It was a very nice night out and a great way to start my restaurant trek – let’s hope all are as good (if not better!)

Tags food, London restaurants, chakalaka, restaurant reviews, South African food

  • linda

    dude! i guess they are so used to the SA guys swallowing a whole cow that to see a brit doing it and enjoying it, called for an award. well done! south africa is in your blood man