I have never understood why tourists would want to visit the Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton when there must be at least ten thousand more interesting, more authentically South African places, to visit in Johannesburg. There are certainly more convenient and cheaper malls at which to shop. However, the reputation of the place is enough to get the tourists (and a lot of locals) onto its concrete slabs. It is rare for me to go to the Nelson Mandela Square for any reason other than to see a show at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square, but that is usually enough to see me visit the place about a dozen times a year or so. Thus it was that I found myself on the Square at dinner time, with about two hours to invest in absorbing the local flavour of the place. I chose to spend that time at the Montego Bay Seafood Restaurant.
It was during a summer heatwave, so I wandered out to the deck where there was a pleasant breeze. I ordered drinks and they were speedily delivered, ice cold and with plenty of ice. Sitting there enjoy the cool evening after a scorching hot day, I relented a little on my harsh stance disapproval of the Square as a tourist destination and allowed myself to be somewhat charmed.
I ordered a salmon salad with avocado at R79. It was on the pricey side for what I actually got – four rolled up pieces of smoked salmon with a dash of avocado puree inside on a slice of cucumber, one overcooked boiled egg cut up into four and a small amount of salad. The waitress offered black pepper. I dislike being rationed to black pepper. In Afrikaans there is a saying which translates to “pepper expensive” or “as expensive as pepper”. This expression probably dates back to the days when spices were a rare commodity. Today pepper is not particularly expensive and should be available for patrons to grind their own. This is true everywhere, but particularly at expensive restaurants. The salad may have been a little disappointing but I was also provided with some delicious brown bread and butter. That was delicious and filled out the meal in a very satisfactory manner.
Talking about expectations at expensive restaurants – I was given a disposable napkin. Yuck! Expensive restaurants should provide cloth napkins. I know the laundry is expensive, but so is the restaurant. McDonalds can provide paper napkins and they will pass without comment, but Montego Bay should provide cloth ones.
Dessert was a slice of grandadilla cheesecake at R40 a portion. This is a refrigerated cheesecake, not too sweet. I initially found it a trifle bland and somewhat gelatinous in comparison to a similar product I make at home but as I ate my way through it I found it more, not less, palatable. What wasn’t so nice was that the biscuit base was soggy.
The service was top notch, the atmosphere pleasant and the food was ok but not great. The restaurant prices are on the high side.