SOCIETI BISTRO is famous for naming dishes after its favourite clientele, and to be among these esteemed guests is a great honour.
When I tell people I am one of those guests, they are suitably impressed and always ask how it happened. It was either this, or a small island. I went with the dish and have no regrets.
The Bianca Coleman first appeared on the winter menu in 2015, and is now available for its third season. The giant ham hock is served with buttered mash, apple and red cabbage, and an apple glühwein reduction. There’s a strong possibility I am biased towards this dish, but it is truly delicious. If anything, it has improved over the years, with 2017 being the best so far.
I’ve eaten myself twice in the past week, so to speak, and will no doubt do so again. The meat is tender and falls away from the bone (which is going to make a certain dog very happy), and the flavours are a perfect complementary combination. It is a particularly large dish but this means I have leftovers to take home for a sneaky midnight snack, or lunch the following day. Either way, I win.
Societi Bistro is one of my favourite restaurants, not only because of my namesake dish, but because we’ve forged a wonderful friendship over the years. Long ago, owner Peter Weetman told me he wanted to have a place where you can enjoy fabulous food but also feel comfortable enough to kick off your shoes and relax. This has been achieved, and then some.
I’ve spent many an evening in the appropriately named Snug Bar, especially in winter when the roaring, crackling fire keeps it cosy, along with plenty of red wine. Plus you can smoke here, which is a huge bonus these days.
There is free wifi to abuse so it also makes for a great office; in summer, sitting outside with the view of Table Mountain and a glass of crisp white at hand is so much more pleasant than being cooped up somewhere. It’s where I conduct my business meetings and interviews, or hold court – my friends will tell you they have received messages from me on a Friday saying “I’ll be at Societi from 3pm if you want to swing by…”
Heck, I even worked in the kitchen for one memorable week.
Afternoon drinks can blend into dinner, or lunch can continue well into the afternoon. My dish is great, as is everything else on the menu, and if you’re at the Snug at the right time of the late afternoon, you’ll get salt-crusted bread sticks fresh and warm out the oven, which are heavenly. Add in the superb service with the personal touch (although I still have to beg some of them not to call me M’am, which makes me feel way too old) and you have a place that is as welcoming as your own home.
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