A neon-lit sign on Glengariff Road, Sea Point welcomes its patrons to a distinguished doorway and onto the staircase of a quaint bistro, each step steepled with historic street names that invoke a once bustling District Six.
Once inside, the rich warmth of a community emanates in a wave, unfolding from walls and décor alike. A floor-to-ceiling visual panorama of a Bo-Kaap street leads the eye gracefully into the supper stage setting, where tables are scattered intimately against a backdrop of a modestly-sized stage. Beyond lies the bar with its memorabilia – a chronicle of owner Richard Loring’s achievements – and another set of stairs heading down again to the bistro section where patrons wanting refreshment without the entertainment have a choice of indoor tables or outdoor, on Sea Point Main Road.
Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro is the fruition of a recent partnership between two prominent figures in Cape Town, Richard Loring (of African Footprint fame) and Roland Seidel. Together these two set out with the aim to provide the city with good quality entertainment whilst nurturing young talent on the platform of established artists. Loring and Seidel aspire to celebrate the Cape Town scene by hosting jazz, operatic performances, cabaret and cozy one-man acts.
Their current live show Kaapse Stories from the Mother City is an interactive pastiche of musical, cabaret and narrative with African percussion and modern instrumental influence. Written and directed by the award-winning Basil Appollis, it follows a diversely distributed group, the Kleintjies family, on their turbulent journey through a collective heritage. Based on a true story, and aimed (but by no means limited to) tourists, this performance enlightens the audience on pre- and post democracy events through the eyes of the Kleintjies family.
Blanched with light frolicking and the humour of local dialect, much of the entertainment was conducted in and around the audience, with performers manoeuvring between the tables and sprouting vocal surprises like wildflowers. Needless to say songs such as Miriam Makeba’s iconic Click Song received particularly warm recognition, though the absolute highlight was a rousing version of ‘Nessun Dorma’ from a most unexpected source…
And all this happened between the four courses of a lavish dinner served, with velvet consistency, by waitrons swift in catering to unspoken requests at their tables. Stimulating the appetite for the first course was a freshly piquant snoek pate, accompanied by a crisp samoosa and a warm serving of roasted sweet peppers, with an impressive Greek salad taking pride of place as a second course.
The main course took the form of an open buffet. With options that appeared endless, I plumped for a moderately spiced korma chicken and prawn curry, a spoonful of creamy potato bake blanketed in cheddar and parmesan, and a generous stabbing of nutmeg-infused carrots and green beans along with voluptuously tender pieces of roasted butternut, in a mizzle of honey and dusted almond flakes. Even in the frenzy of these cascading sensory delights, I managed to feast vicariously on the selected plate of my company, who had chosen vegetable biryani, fillet steak and line fish.
In conclusion we met with a traditional medley of dessert: malva pudding topped with vanilla custard, a slender slice of milk tart, a koeksister and a mini skewer of fruit.
Richard’s culturally-rooted cuisine counters the standard intricacies of brow raisingly un-pronounceable dishes and instead offers the feeling of homely Sunday-afternoon meals that taste of rich, simplistic familiarity coupled with a tangible and feverishly authentic Cape flavour.
As a whole, the supper and entertainment experience was reminiscent of Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams – the leading, if not the only dinner/theatre option in South Africa. Certainly, with names like Royston Stoffels, Terry Smith, Ruth Marley, Ebenezer Sawuhi, Mpumi Sizani, Roxanne Gabriels and Germandt Geldenhuys, the viewer is set for an entertaining evening.
A cross-polinating cultural kit with a penchant for surprise – at Richard’s Supper Stage and Bistro you should expect the unexpected.
Kaapse Stories from the Mother City was performed on 25 August 2012 and runs weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Richard’s Supper Stage and Bistro, Sea Point.