While visiting Cape Town, South Africa may not be in your immediate future, save this place as a must-go if you do go. Make a reservation well in advance because it’s a hot ticket, hotter than I knew when I booked it in October for a December visit. While scouring various blogs and reviews of places to go while there, I stumbled on Pot Luck Club and based on reviews and descriptions, I made a reservation. The very next weekend it happened to be featured in a New York Times magazine story. When we did go, the cabbie who dropped us off was adament that the only way we could have gotten in, was due to a cancellation — “but President Obama ate there!” he reminded me. Well we did, too. It’s a small place – seats about 50 people – and is on the sixth floor of a place called the Silo of the Old Biscuit Mill in an area known as Woodstock. Opened by renowned chef Luke Dale-Roberts, and presided over by the head chef Wesley Randles, pot luck is a fun place to eat in cool surroundings. Dinner is in two sittings and features a selection of tapas from five taste groups – sweet, salty, sour, umami, and bitter – and under each “taste” are a number of selections from which to choose and share at the table. The night we went standouts included fish tacos; wok fried eggs with miso bean sprouts and pickled mushrooms; prawn salad; and a selection of South African cheeses.
Last night we went with friends to the Takoma Park, MD outpost known as Republic. Due to the noise in the main dining area, we nearly left. But I am so glad we stayed because once we were seated in the back room our amazement at the wonderful food began. Oysters from Ugly, MD and Old Black Salt, VA arrived and half were sweet and half were salty pleasing everyone at the table. Next were a variety of appetizers, sides, and entrees that the four of us shared. The standout for me was the smoked paprika cauliflower, though since everything was pretty much absolutely wonderful, it’s difficult to say what was best. The arugula salad featured roasted pumpkin seeds and bits of winter squash topped off with tangy white cheese resembling feta. The ample sides dishes included the forementioned fried cauliflower with the smoked papricka, lemon and a smidgen of parmesan that didn’t overwhelm it. The mushroom fondue was swimming in a shallow pool of marsala and tarragon and delightful. When I got to the quinoa risotto on a bed of carrot safron puree I was stunned by the various textures and tastes that filled every bite due to the addition of mascarpone, crimini mushrooms and pearl onions. The char cooked so that the skin was crispy and the fish tender sat on top of braised red cabbage with smoked bacon, fingerling potatos and a soubise that blended these various flaovers ina way that made me admire the chef who created it. Go to Republic – so worth the somewhat high prices.