I wasn’t a member of any societies in high school. Gawd! Thats a terrible intro isn’t it? I didn’t quite know how to start this, and that, I admit, was a pretty lame attempt. Albeit the truth – I wasn’t in the debating society (shock horror I do have an opinion on most things), wasn’t on the junior town council (yep, both sisters made it – not me!) or a prefect (again, both sisters.. black sheep). However I have found a love for a different Societi recently. That which is on Orange Street. Hmm, this all sounds rather cheesy, but really – this is one of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town and probably the one I’ve seen the inside of the most (not counting Beluga which really doesn’t count at all, its just down the road and really convenient).
I had heard about Societi Bistro as I do most things, on twitter. My faithful companion (I read twitter over books at night. Its a terrible sin. One I’m not proud to admit, but there you have it.) Shit, I’m digressing far too often tonight. And swearing. (Or is that just in my head?) Anyway… I heard about it and, as how I operate, was looking for an excuse to visit, when I was offered one. In the form of invitation to a summer menu tasting. For the life of me I can’t recall the details of how I managed to get an invite, but I’m so glad I did. Lucky for me @wannabebond did the full write up on the food which was quite simply, so enjoyable. After that beautiful summer’s evening with the mountain as our backdrop, I just knew this would become one of my regular spots.
Why do I love this spot? Well, firstly its the food. And simply put, it is divine. Divine without the capetonian accent. Just divine how the dictionary intended. Its unpretentious, wholesome, simple food. You don’t visit Societi for the frills and fancy drizzle. You visit to eat and you know you’ll be getting a whole heap of flavour when you do. I have to be honest and say that besides the night of the tasting, I never get further than the starters and pastas on the menu. Watermelon salad followed by Prawn Tagliarini. Yes, every time. Pasta is my indulgence, and this is so worth it. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the menu isn’t good. In fact, there’s nothing I’ve tried (at the tasting and at the samples of friends and families meals) that isn’t just delicious. This is mediterranean Italy with all things South African. If that makes sense.
Besides the food (which really, is reason enough to visit), there’s also the decor, ambiance and my best, al fresco dining. Hot summers nights when the sun sets late and the mountain has a pink back light while sipping chilled white wine (me. Not the mountain). Cooler evenings inside the converted Georgian-style house with its bricked walls and openplan kitchen, cosy and warm with a few fleece blankets just in case. And then there’s the snug. The bar round the corner with the worn leather chairs and pictures on the walls. Any time of day, any time of year. This place oozes with appeal.
Ok, now a real highlight of any visit is their wine list. And these days, one of my deciding factors when it comes to liking a restaurant or not. They take wine seriously and it shows. Not to go off on a tangent about places (and yes, I’m talking about Beluga and Sotano) that have ridiculous mark ups on their otherwise fairly crappy wine selection, Societi has awesome wines, many by the glass and all at a VERY reasonable price. For example, the South Hill Sauvignon Blanc is R30 at Sotano per glass and R19 at Socieiti. Not that I’d order that – there are many others to choose. Point is, well – I think I made it.
Societi Bistro is just a relaxed, easy going place. Pop in at any time grab a table (if they’re not booked up I mean) and chill out. Its easy to stay for hours (erhmm…) or be there twice in one weekend. It has been done before. By me.
ps. Now that summer is over and the watermelon salad is no longer available (sniff sniff), I’m popping back in for a little tour of Italy. I think they read my mind. My second favourite country. Oh, and if you did try the watermelon salad and want to attempt to make it yourself next year when watermelons are back in season, check out the fabulous Stefan Marais’ recipe.