REVIEW: Quick Fri Newlands lunch? Caveau at the Mill

dsc_0004.jpg Looking for potential nanny candidates. It’s a mind-numbing job but has to be done when the nanny you’ve trained takes another job without giving notice. Calls in sick for two days, then switches off her phone until I send her sister over with police, expecting the worst. You do this when people have troubled, complicated personal lives. Eventually I discover that her former employer made her a better offer. Originally laid her off and now recruits her for baby number two. Ethical? Hardly. But they did me a favour as she wasn’t a great fit.

Still, it’s a hassle and you want to lessen the effects on a one-year-old. So I’m doing potential nanny trial days now and again. So far: one good candidate, one with potential, and one that didn’t pitch resulting in a R500 fine at a ‘No Stopping’ sign. In between monitoring skills I’m discovering a lot about South African “madams” who recommend “experienced” nannies deficient in food-making skills. One told me she’d never cooked and pureed meat or chicken because her madam bought toddler meals at Woolies and trained her to heat it in the microwave. Oi!

All this left me in need of stimulating adult conversation and proper chewable food. We took a chance and left our little guy for over an hour, escaping to Caveau at the Mill in Newlands. It was rainy and full of Friday southern suburbs folks, some getting into the mood for the rugby game tonight.

The food? dsc_0007.jpg Pricy but mostly very tasty. Fish and chips – beer-battered kingklip with homemade tartare sauce and chips – at R110. A lamb burger at R98. Great fish in perky batter, crispy Belgium-style thin chips. The burger was less satisfying. Two battered onion rings were fine and I liked the cumin-laced patty but would’ve preferred warning about a humus and tzatziki topping. A Greek meze twist clearly, but I prefer relish.
We drank glasses of Hartenberg Cab/Shiraz 2008 (R30) in red as they were out of Bradgate Syrah 2009 (R27), and Avondale Chenin 2010 (R33) in white. Desserts sounded yummy – bread and butter pud or white chocolate brownies . We settled instead on quick coffees with homemade dark chocolate truffles (R4.50), a clever touch: it’s nice to finish a meal with a tiny taste of sweet.

In short: Caveau at the Mill is still one of the best eating options in an area where gourmet pickings are slim. Wine options are still plentiful. But it’s not cheap. dsc_0002.jpg

Spend: Around R75 for salads, R98 to R110 for burgers, fish or pork belly.

Value: Attention to detail and quality ingredients justifies the price somewhat but prices are above average for what is essentially café or bistro grub. Wine bars typically don’t offer great value drinks, arguing that they provide a varied wine selection and decent glasses. It was good to find by-the-glass options under R30.

Flavour rating: Good food, cosy atmosphere with a leafy view and an indoor fireplace.

CAVEAU AT THE MILL , 13 Boundary Road, Newlands. Tel 021 685-5140. Open Tuesday to Sunday.