Home delivery from The Black Sheep
By Daisy Jones, 19 May 2020
A few days ago Western Cape Premier Alan Winde entreated us to “support small businesses” and “order takeaways from your nearest restaurant”.
My husband and I didn’t need much encouragement. Our teenager won’t touch red meat. Our pre-teen likes pale, bland food. After weeks of frittatas, pastas and chicken sausages, what a thrill to place an order with The Black Sheep in Kloof Street for warthog – slow-cooked in red wine – and the restaurant’s signature Burmese pork curry.
Let’s face it, part of the joy of a takeaway is the smell of heavily-fragranced steam trapped in a brown paper bag. It’s a huge part of the appeal of Chinese take-aways, specifically. Our Black Sheep bags smelt like heaven: garlic, sweet onion, spices and fatty, roasted meat.
The pork dishes did not disappoint. The warthog was deliciously tender and moist. It had indeed been braised long and slow and the gravy of the stew was dense with the flavour of roasted vegetables, tomatoes and meat. Of course, cooking in red wine makes an impressive difference to the depth of flavour. Thank you, the French. It looked and smelt like the lamb shank dish we were all agog about in the mid-nineties – especially as it was served with mash. But the Black Sheep’s warthog is less Italian, more farm-ish. The big chunks of carrot and cabbage served with the mash were sweet and toothsome. The stew was properly peppery too, which I loved.
The Burmese pork curry is famous at The Black Sheep. Along with a chicken and pork roast, it’s one of the three meals you can now order for four on Sundays.
It’s gorgeous. It was served the way I serve curry at home – with a sambal for freshness, an atchar for chilli-heat and a cool, yoghurt-based raita for calm. To be honest, it’s a bit of a nineties way to serve curry. What really surprised me about the Black Sheep curry were the wodges of sweet, roasted butternut and the very thick, very buttery discs of soft potato. It took the curry in a roast dinner direction – and, given the sizes and intense tastes of these veg segments, very confidently too. The fact that the curry was so very generously meaty is what made this cross-over possible. This was not one of those curries in which smallish cubes float in a thick, smooth gravy. It was more like fall-apart pork in a rich, spicy sauce; more like a ladle of low-and-slow-cooked meat from a no-holds-barred Indian carvery.
The dish came with rice too – exquisitely separate and fragrant – packaged in its own container. This was a very generous meal. It was easily enough for two (and therefore excellent value at R140).
Overall, these two pork dishes represented confident, talented cooking. The Black Sheep is not intimidatingly cheffy, but it doesn’t cut corners either. You can taste that all the ingredients are high quality, and that everything has been made from scratch.
I first visited The Black Sheep in 2014 and loved it then. It’s a special restaurant that can survive two decades on Kloof Street. City Bowlers are demanding. But Chef Jonathan Japha is dedicated to the notion of gastropub food (emphasis on “gastro”) and Japha’s business partner, Jorge Silva, has a devotion to the business and its customers that has won him a following.
In case it sounds like I was in raptures just because this was the first restaurant meal I’d eaten in weeks, I can tell you that the pulled pork sandwich was served in a roll that was too bready, too hard. And the sticky toffee pudding was the worst: a passable sponge drenched in a sauce that tasted like someone had tipped the sugar bowl into a pot and stirred it to a sandy consistency before serving. Not surprising the dessert lacked any depth of taste. It’s possible that the toffee sauce was a casualty of cooking and reheating. To be fair, this is Black Sheep’s first-ever week of offering takeaways.
Here at Winemag, we are all in favour of supporting independent restaurants during lockdown. Of course it’s easy and cheap to get fast food delivered using an app like UberEats and Mr Delivery. But the big chains like McDonald’s will make it through Covid-19.
Much has been written about the Cape’s fine dining restaurants that are currently offering gourmet meals to be “finished” at home. Peter Tempelhoff is offering various eat-in as part of FYN from Home. Ryan Cole of Salsify and George Jardine of Jardine in Stellenbosch will deliver a three-course dinner for two for R395 and R295 per person respectively. Janse at Home and Steenberg @ Home are also offering “heat, plate and serve” meals. Kobus van der Merwe of Wolfgat is making up hampers for two for R800 and the acclaimed Luke Dale-Roberts is selling a weekly basket of luxury goods – including sweet and savoury items made in his kitchens – in both Cape Town and Johannesburg for R1800, R3000 or R5000.
But the restaurants that are really in financial danger are places like The Black Sheep, the stand-alone neighbourhood eateries that have been built with owner savings, hard work and the support of regulars. They have survived because staff members in the kitchen and on the restaurant floor work hard to deliver good food and good service. These are the places that actually care about your birthday dinner.
We urge you to support places like the restaurants below, many of which have been reviewed by Winemag before.
Pesce Azzuro is delivering gourmet ravioli and gnocchi. The Cousins at Home is selling its famous lasagna in a family-sized tray. Both The Woodlands Eatery and Magica Roma are delivering.
Punjab in Kenilworth, Maharajah in Rondebosch and Prashad Café are offering deliveries of authentic Indian vegetarian and meat curries.
Vegan restaurant The Kind Kitchen is delivering, as is Greek restaurant Mykonos and Mexican restaurant El Burro. The deep-fries from Monks Chinese are deeply satisfying.
For weekend family meals, try Blockhouse Kitchen in Constantia and Hamm & Uys in Stellenbosch.
Winemag recommends Jerry’s Burger Bar in Observatory; Saltwater Grill in Pinelands for fish and seafood, and both Fabrica do Prego and Vasco’s for Portuguese.