I have a slightly disturbing habit. When I’m eating out I need to – no, absolutely have to – taste what’s on everyone’s plate. I rather suspect this is a condition common to women. Check out any girlie get together, and chances are you’ll see piled forks being passed around the table. Men don’t get this. But clever men tolerate it.
What’s the answer to this fundamental dining incompatibility between the sexes? Small plates of food people. The kind that gets passed around the table so everyone can help themselves. And if you take a particular fancy to one of them, you order again and again.
Recently opened Graciales at Peddlars & Co. in Constantia is just such a place. It’s the brainchild of award-winning chef Brad Ball. Think sticky pork belly bites with salted caramel. We ordered two more plates. Or Chef Brad’s by now famous beef tataki. We ordered more of those as well.
And then, oh my goodness then, there are the chicharónnes with a spicy hot sauce. It was so very, very wrong, but it felt so very, very right. Now before you go Google it, chicharónnes are fried pork rinds. That sounds a bit disturbing, so let me rephrase. Think the puffiest, crackliest crackling you’ve ever eaten, minus the meaty bits. Like those chip-sized packets of crackling you see in the check-out isle of every bottle store. Think that. But bigger and a thousand times better. Given that they were so puffed up and light, I figured most of the fat had been cooked out, so we tripled that order. But to be honest I was having such a fab time, I wasn’t really counting.
Graciales at Peddlars & Co, Constantia Small plate heaven.
Of course there is sweet stuff to, but I couldn’t manage. I blame the crackling. (Check out the full menu here.)
The décor at Graciales is vibrant, colourful, modern and trendy. This is not the place you take the love of your life to propose marriage. Nope, for that you need to head next door, to Chef Brad’s elegant Italian restaurant, Volare.
Graciales is the kind of place where you meet up with a bunch of good mates and a view to going large. Start at the gorgeous bar where they whip up sublime cocktails. Serious things with depth and attitude. None of this namby-pamby nonsense involving marachino cherries and brollies.
* I was an invited guest at Graciales. See About This Post below.
About this article: I only write about places and things I actually really like. Should I receive complimentary meals/tickets/diamonds, this will always be revealed. I’m not in the rubbishing business, so if something is not my cup of tea, I’ll simply not write about it (but I’ll keep the diamonds). Therefore this is not so much a review, as a personal recommendation of places and things I like. Living in Cape Town, I focus mainly on the Western Cape, and I can only cover so many places (there is that troublesome thing of trying to make a living, after all). This is where I need your help. Please share your favourite markets, festivals, restaurants and wine tasting experiences from all over the country with others by using the ‘COMMENTS’ section below.