Salmon Rostini SaladThe Mugg & Bean in Kloof St serves some of the most ghastly food I have ever eaten. Not so-so, not average, but absolutely unequivocally revolting in taste, texture and presentation.

I knew this, having eaten there once or twice before, but as one of my colleagues wanted to try it out, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and venture in there one more time.

Foolish, foolish me.

Now, I rarely go to any of the Mugg & Beans for anything but their on-the-go breakfast. Their menu is busy and colourful but hellishly confusing so I just opt for something I know. Plus, it’s about the right size for me, comes with wheat-free rye if you ask for it, is served all day and only costs around R16. Easy.

(It’s also quite hard to stuff up bacon, eggs and toast, or so I tell myself).

But this time, in a moment of madness (and not wanting to order breakfast at lunchtime) I decided to brave the menu and order something different, to venture into the great world of choice so enthusiastically displayed over the menu’s many (many) pages.

So, I chose a Salmon Rostini Salad – an interesting-sounding salad with potato rosti, smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers. So far so good – how could they possibly mess up something so simple?

Well, they did a stellar job of it.

The salad, when it arrived, looked like this. Not very pretty. The lettuce was so limp it was like biting into a slug. The rosti, clearly out of a box, had gone into negative taste territory (I’m guessing they were cunningly deep-fried in oil that had already experienced several incarnations) and refused to be redeemed by the copious quantities of salt I threw onto them.

The cucumber was so old and so dry that it had developed a tough outer layer that resisted the onslaught of my cutlery (let alone my poor teeth).

The only decent-tasting items on the salad were the salmon, cream cheese and capers, precariously balanced on the tastebud-destroying (and probably carcinogenic) rosti. And I was more than a little nervous about the preparation of those if everything else had been so obviously overlooked.

All of this I dutifully pointed out to the bored-looking waitress, trying not to make too big a deal of it. She shrugged, I screamed (well, I would have liked to, but it just doesn’t do to make a big scene in front of one’s colleagues, wot wot), nothing was done.

And thus was born my new pet name for the restaurant-formerly-known-as-Mugg&Bean: The Shrug & Scream. I intend to use this new name relentlessly and with vigour.

I should have sent it back, but didn’t. I paid over R40 for that ‘meal’! Well, they say we Capetonians vote with our feet – and mine certainly won’t be going back – not to the Gardens branch at any rate.

The Kloof St Shrug & Scream is located in the Lifestyles Centre, on Kloof St, in Gardens. Fine for basic breakfast and coffees (though if you’re in Kloof St, rather go to Seattle or Vida E Caffe for your caffeine booster) but not much else. This does not necessarily reflect on other Shrug & Screams around the Mother City, but I am now unlikely to explore those options.

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