There are buttons at the outside tables of the Waterfront Cape Town Fish Market (CTFM), buttons that say ‘Push Button To Call Server‘.
Great idea, I thought, basking in the joyful feeling that here, at this friendly restaurant, my every need and desire would be instantly attended to, at the touch of a waiter-summoning button.
How swiftly my fragile hopes were dashed.
An experimental push resulted in precisely no waiter at all. We eventually flagged one down in passing to organise for some menus. He scowled at us (not his section) and summoned someone else to come and take our order.
We ordered some sushi and miso soup, and a few drinks to ease into the evening. The drinks arrived fairly quickly (as they should!) and then we waited.
Next came the miso soup, but no spoons. Pushing the ‘call server’ button to organise a spoon proved just as fruitless as my previous attempt so we waved at our waiter until he grudgingly came back to find out what we wanted. Spoons? With soup? Surely not!
The soup was far from piping hot when he finally made it back with spoons, new ones that had to be unwrapped from their plastic sleeves… (?!) and whilst we sipped on our now tepid soups I noted that our fellow diners alongside had sent something back, almost as it arrived. A sign of things to come, as it turned out.
So, the wasabi was brought, and ginger, plus the usual soya sauce and appropriate bowls, chopsticks and so on. We stared longingly at these condiments for some time.
Finally, the sushi arrived, but we very quickly noticed that the black plate on which the pieces had been arranged was covered in large oily finger smudges and other strange marks (probably from previous sushi incarnations, the plate not washed properly in the interim).
Not only was it disgusting, but when dealing with raw fish a certain amount of caution is somewhat necessary (not to mention the fact that one pays through the nose for the stuff). So, I sent it back.
Well, of course he brought back exactly the same sushi, on a marginally cleaner plate, and we were so hungry by this stage that we decided not to quibble.
Halfway through the sushi the wasabi was getting the better of us and we realised that there was not one single serviette to be seen. Noses streaming, and by now aware that our button was just a silly thing put on the table to taunt us, we again tried to hail a waiter, any waiter, to put us out of our misery.
No such luck. In the end, we had to go inside, make a fuss, and retrieve some ourselves. Unbelievable!
A mollifying free plate of sushi each (probably because our serviette-seeking expedition brought our sad plight to the attention of management) did help the evening become marginally less of a disaster, but I have to say that I am unlikely to go back.
If I do find myself there again (sushi is surprisingly addictive), I will be sure to avoid the surly waiters altogether, and sit at the sushi bar instead, close to the action (and serviettes).
The Cape Town Fish Market I visited is in the V&A Waterfront, opposite the Ster Kinekor cinemas.