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Chakalaka: A taste of South Africa in London
I passed this spot recently and the restaurant seems to have closed down, but I leave this review for my own records.
This is a bright, buzzy restaurant serving traditional South African dishes. On a recent visit on a freezing cold February evening it was perhaps hard to imagine ourselves anywhere in Africa, but the warm red walls and decorative touches such as wooden masks and animal skins helped create a good atmosphere, and the company of friends and a few glasses of house red provided some much-needed warmth.
Most of us took advantage of the special menu on offer, with two courses and a glass of wine for just £15. I chose a warming butternut squash soup and followed this with a traditional dish of Bobotie (lightly curried minced lamb and almonds, served with rice and a platter of extras including chutney, coconut and banana). This was perhaps not the best of choices, as I like spicy food and was disappointed at just how mild this was. I added a dessert to the set menu, a creamy dish called Dom Pedros which I liked on initially tasting but found a little too sweet despite the addition of whisky (it comes with the liquor of your choice).
Despite my disappointment with a couple of the dishes, I had a good time here and would certainly go back, but would probably choose from the main menu another time.
Chakalaka!: South African traditional fare
This restaurant used to be called 'Madiba'... until Madiba's own lawyer phoned the owner and asked him to change it... Nelson Mandela's nickname is not copyrighted but they are trying to protect it from any kind of overuse or possible abuse.
Hence the birth of 'Chakalaka'!
This restaurant is top notch... the food, decor, service... and *gulp* the prices. But for a special occasion (ours was Christmas Eve dinner), it is worth every penny! To eat traditonal South African food whilst listening to traditional South African music, with wildlife paintings on the walls... I was in heaven! haha
Favorite Dish: This place is expensive and we only come here on special occasions, but for the ambiance and home-from-home feeling, those extra few £ are worth it.
UPDATE February 2009
They have a special running for *recession times*, which is two courses plus a glass of wine/beer for £15. This is a good price for this restaurant, which is usually quite expensive!
I have been to this restaurant three times since December 2008, the first being for a Christmas meal with my sister and hubby, which was fabulous. Service was top notch, food was delicious (crocodile skewers, kudu steaks, milk tarts and peppermint surprises!), and there was a complimentary round of Springbok shooters!
On Thursday 29 January (2009) we went again for a little pre-birthday celebration with my sil from Kent, the food was great for the others (they had steaks and spatchcock chickens), I had oxtail potjie, which is a naturally fatty meat, which I didn't enjoy. They gave us two rounds of complimentary springbok shooters (the owner's initiative!). We had a waiter who's first night it was, so service wasn't what I am used to here unfortunately.
Last night (4 Feb 2009) I was there with a few girlfriends and I have to say it was the worse I have ever experienced there. I wasn't happy with the service and the overall evening, although I did enjoy my crocodile skewers, spare ribs (hubby enjoyed his share too!), and whisky dom pedro!
There were no complimentary springbok shooters and it just wasn't up to par, with haphazard waitering, plus being sat near the door with an icy wind every few minutes as people came and went. Because of this I have changed my rating to 'satisfied', taking into account my past experiences, which have all been very good. Maybe they just had a bad night? I hope so.
They seem to have the better staff on the weekends I have concluded, if the last few meals are anything to go by... and service is also always better when the owner is there.
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Chakalaka: Chakalaka - South African food in Putney
Chakalaka is a colourful South African restaurant in Putney. We had an enjoyable meal there one Friday night with friends who had recently moved to the area. The restaurant had been on my radar for a while, so we were really looking forward to the Chakalaka experience.
We were given a warm welcome, and service continued to be friendly and helpful throughout our meal. The decor is vibrant, with bright painted walls, African art and a giant zebra skin complete with tail.
Favorite Dish: To start, we had the Boerewors and Chakalaka (traditional South African sausage served with chakalaka spicy sauce), the Spicy Salmon and Crab cakes, and the Chakalaka House Salad. All were good, with the fish cakes being particularly tasty.
Main courses were the Springbok Loin (a type of antelope), and the Char grilled Kudu Steak (a bigger antelope). The meat was cooked perfectly, and I loved the sweetness of the Springbok, which was perfectly paired with sweet potato mash.
The wine list consisted of entirely South African wines, with a decent spread of styles and prices. We really enjoyed a couple of bottles of the 2002 Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon (and were pleasantly surprised by the 2002 vintage as we were expecting the 2004, as per the wine list).
I really wanted to try dessert as I had spied the 'Peppermint Crisp Surprise' on the menu and am a big fan of the good old Peppermint Crisp chocolate bar which I grew up enjoying in Australia. Unfortunately, the dessert didn't quite live up to expectations - there was not enough of the peppermint chocolatey goodness, and a bit too much of some sort of rich, condensed milk type substance. Oh well, next time I will have to try the Malva Pudding or Milk Tart instead.
At the end of the night everyone was given a complimentary Springbok cocktail - a small shot glass with Crème de Menthe and Amarula layers - sure beats the usual 'mint with your bill' offering!
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Chakalaka: South African experience in London
I went to this restaurant with a friend because I missed real South African food and read something about this restaurant somewhere...
It´s not located in Central London, you have to go quite a few stops by tube. If you step out the station, you don´t feel like being in London at all, but some other quiet town. Nice after all.
The restaurant itself is painted like a zebra, very exotic. I liked the inside, a lot of dark wood a paintings of African landscapes/animals on the wall, which are also for sale.
The waiters are really friendly and gave us a good insight into the menu, recommended good dishes,options when we weren´t sure what to choose...
Favorite Dish: Of course I tried boerewors with pap and chakalaka(I really was homesick of SA:) ) as the starter, and even if I had to eat it with cutlery(I didn´t when in SA), it tasted very South African and of course very good.
That evening, they had springbok, what was great, too.
I had Amarula crème brulé for dessert, delicious. Not too sweet, you could still taste the Amarula flavour.