Feasting on tapas at Judd’s Local in Kloof Street

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WHAT a long year it’s been…and it’s only January 11 as I’m writing this ahead of Cyril Ramaphosa’s address at 8pm. It’s never a good idea to tempt fate, or the universe, or whatever; the decisions have already been made anyway.

The past few weeks have been rather bleak in the restaurant, wine and  hospitality industries. While I do have a good supply of wine at home (borderline hoarding FTW), going out to eat without it is just not the same. However, there is a silver lining: you don’t have to worry about who’s driving. Also, if you do lunches rather than early dinners, a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage on a blistering hot day in the City Bowl slides beautifully down the throat.

Such was the case when we visited newly-opened Judd’s Local in Kloof Street (and I swear, autocorrect – change that to “Aloof” one more time!). There’s a blackboard listing colourful juices – yellow, green and so on – and a drinks menu which I appear to have mislaid. From it, I chose a berry daiquiri, which was for a long while too frozen for the straw to be of any use, but I slurped it up as best I could. It was lovely for the day though, as was the iced coffee (skipping ahead a bit) with which we finished. It’s presented at the table: a carafe of ice, a shot of espresso, topped off with milk.

It was a wonderful surprise to walk in and discover Morné Botha is the chef and manager of this family-owned joint; I’ve known him for years and often find him in the most unexpected places. He made it his business to look after us and feed us…perhaps a tad excessively, but hey – first world problems, am I right?

Morné enthusiastically explained the menu, where he sources ingredients, and some of the labour (of love) intensive cooking processes. Within weeks, a deli and bakery next door will link with Judd’s, providing an even wider range of fabulous breads and pastries, as well as cheeses, charcuterie, eggs, jams and pickles.

There’s a full page menu just for breakfast and I approve of this. It’s served from 9am till 12pm. After that, tapas, mains, sides and salads come into play. Judd’s is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8am till 5pm. Burgers sounded banging but we decided we’d go for the tapas and Morné took that and ran with it – with special focus on my vegetarian friend. Five of the eight tapas are vegetarian anyway but he was concerned she’d miss out on the three I was going to eat by myself.

And thus it came to pass, this is what came to the table: crostini topped with roasted peppers; arancini balls hiding little nuggets of mozzarella in their middles, with Napolitano sauce; Karoo lamb meatballs in same sauce; cauliflower croquettes; aubergine and ricotta bundles which were a massive hit; pickled octopus; vegetarian burger sliders; tempura zucchini; and what turned out to my fave, fish goujons in the lightest of light tempura batter, served with aioli. There were also some special little honey-drenched balls that were off-menu.

Wow. This style of eating is one I love so much, all the tasting, all the different flavours and textures, mixing and matching, little bit of this, little bit of that. Yes, it was a feast indeed and plenty of leftovers to send home to a happy husband.

Coming soon are Big Little Boxes, for R600 to feed four, for delivery within a 5km radius, or collection. The tapas box will have six tapas from the menu, a bread, and something sweet; beef, chicken or veg burgers with fries plus pastries for dessert; and a Sunday lunch roast comprising chicken, sides, tapas and dessert are among the options.

For more information, call 076 473 9821 or email [email protected]

Address: 143 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town

PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©

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