Thursday, 16 February 2012

Panama Shack

We have a tour guide friend who is a goldmine for all things to do in South Africa and I find myself often asking him for locations to visit and wine to divulge in. In terms of food, he pointed us in the direction of Panama Jacks, the secret home of amazing seafood in Cape Town.
The area where it is located is in the deepest part of the docks and is surrounded by containers and shipping yards. If it wasn't for the oddly placed Jaguar, I would have thought we were in the wrong place. 

Panama Jacks does stick out like a sore thumb (not so sure of that saying because I've had a sore thumb and it doesn't stick out, it just freaking hurts) with its brilliant blue awnings and plants. We were greeted by two women, this is where I sound a little cruel, who both had greasy dark hair, bad complexions, dishevelled clothes and an "I'm only here for the free smokes" look about them. Nonchalance was king. However, I was determined to be here for the food and once we were seated, I took a greater look round. Jacks is called "Cape Town's best kept secret' and "the place where the locals go' but I think Mr H and I were the only 'locals'. It's a good marketing ploy because in the tourism industry, a lot of visitors like to dip into 'local activities' and feel like they are 'one of us'.

The menu was extensive and everything looked appetising. For the lunch menu, there were wine suggestions for each dish which, as I am a wine-o, was a nice touch.
For drinks, not to be cheap but because I have an OCD with drinking 2 litres of water, I just ordered from the tap. The waitress was not happy about that and when she returned with my drink, she sort of slammed it on to the table and stalked away before I could thank her. But, I was prepared to push that aside and when she returned for our food orders, Mr H ordered traditional fish and chips and I orderd the Malaysian line fish curry.
The food was lovely. The fish was crispy to perfection and the curry was spicy but flavourful, it made my nose run in a good way.

When we asked for the bill, I was quite shocked to see that they had charged me for the rice and Mr H for the chips. I remember reading that on the bill it said 'Add: rice R10. Chips R15' but we had never asked for them and when they came, I assumed they were included in the R62 price. Let me also stress, that the portion of rice was about the size of a 5 yr olds closed fist....maybe even smaller. I was a little put out and the attitudes didn't get much better. I understand that it is an understated restaurant and it has this magical, local & lekker vibe however, when the food is that good and the clientele is that high, it's nice to be served by someone with a genuine smile and warmth rather than by someone who looks like she wants to smack me.

I'm glad I've been there, but I wouldn't want to go again and I think that there are far nicer places to have good fish and a good atmosphere. Anyone else been there or have any better places to go?

Images found here

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