One of the friends being from overseas, I was looking for a place with two main attributes: a good view of our iconic Table Mountain, and food that’s not only tasty, but also a little bit out of the ordinary.
Arnold’s in Kloof St fit that bill perfectly, and as I hadn’t booked I was ecstatic to find a table available outside.
Foreign Friend was placed in a mountain-facing position, getting an uninterrupted and hypnotising look at its mesmerising, swirling, ever-changing ‘table cloth’ (she hardly said a word all through lunch!).
The Arnolds menu is extensive, so it’s rather hard to make a quick decision. A number of the lunch specials looked appetising (around R40 each), but in the end, after much debate and deliberation it was the game platter that got our attention (and our vote).
To offset the heaviness of so much meat, we decided ordering a salad would be a sensible plan, and settled on ‘Uli’s Special Caprese’ – we’d share it all between the three of us.
Perfect choices! The game platter, more than enough for two (ladies) includes cuts from four different game meats, according to what’s available on the day. Ours arrived laden with cuts of gemsbok and ostrich and the ribs of crocodile and warthog (plus delicious roast vegetables).
I’d had warthog ribs before (a bit like pork ribs, but leaner and, I think, tastier), but crocodile was something completely new to me. It looks and tastes something like chicken, but is sweeter and a bit richer.
The meat was all exquisitely cooked, flesh falling off the bone, with the subtlest of flavouring. So unlike the often far-too-tangy MSG-laden marinades and sauces one gets at so many places… I was very impressed.
As for the greens… Uli’s Special Caprese has just become my favourite salad. Anywhere. Ever.
It’s huge and is generously endowed with crispy bacon, creamy avocado, soft mozzarella, large piquant peppadews, basil pesto and other delicious treats.
There was a strong coriander component to the leafy part of the salad, which I happen to like very much, and gobbled up voraciously.
On the downside, though, it does require quite a bit of chopping before it’ll fit in your mouth – being of the stems-and-all variety – which might put neater-eaters off.
Between the three of us, we polished off all but the last few stray salad bits, and left only a pile of rib bones as evidence of our carnage. How terribly carnivorous it was, and how immensely satisfying!
The entire meal, for three people, including a drink each, cost us R178 (not including tip). That’s about R60 each, which I think is exceptional value, especially considering the quantity of specialty meat involved.
Add to that the quality of the food overall, the friendly and attentive service and the spectacular view and it becomes a bargain.
I will most definitely be back. Often.
Arnolds is located at 60 Kloof St, Gardens (opposite the Mount Nelson Hotel – the back end). Tel.: 021 4244344. Website. Arnolds runs both lunch and dinner specials and a famous ‘early bird’ R8 breakfast special (7.00 to 7.20 am from Mon-Fri). * update: the EARLY BIRD at Arnolds on Kloof is Monday to Friday 6.45am to 7.00am sharp *