Do you remember that advert where the guy was so comfortable in the hotel that he was staying in, that he walked around half-naked? If not, Google it. If you do remember, well, that was me last week. Half-naked, in a restaurant, drinking tea.
I am lying. Lying through my teeth. At no point was I half naked and a cup of tea didn’t even cross my mind. What I won’t lie about is the amazing night I had last week at Rocca in the Cape Quarter. Rocca is a Mediterranean restaurant, owned and run by a lovely man named Costa, who is one of those guys who honestly seems to know, and care about each and every one of his customers. I felt so comfortable and at home in the restaurant that I had to remind myself to put my shoes back on and take my feet off the chair next to me. Although it wasn’t as if anyone would have cared.
I had a Virgin Pineapple cocktail with fresh pineapple pulp and rocket which was amazingly refreshing in the 33 degree heat and my friend had a Watermelon and vodka based drink which from the first sip, put a smile on her face.
My plan was to try a few tapas and then have a main course. My plan was thwarted. When the “few” tapas arrived, the plate, no, platter looked like this:
I felt like a kid with a cultured palate in a restaurant. Ok, awful metaphor, I apologise. Either way, my eyes lit up like the fires of the Solar Flare and I grabbed my cutlery, ready for battle.
There were zucchini fritters laced with oozy feta cheese which I was worried would be too heavy, but they were light and crispy and finished in seconds. There were amazing spring rolls, with a velvety prawn and seafood filling that had just a hint of tomato. We had deep fried haloumi, cooked perfectly and not even the slightest bit oily and a Greek salad filled with plump olives and crumbly, creamy feta. As someone who is completely obsessed with dolmades, I was a little disappointed that they tasted shop-bought. My friend fell instantly in love with the spinach and feta phyllo parcels, which were delicious, but I was much more interested in investigating the dips. A robust black olive tapenade; tzatziki, which is grated cucumber and yogurt; roasted aubergine with red peppers and garlic; and taramasalata, which is fish roe blended with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.
The aubergine dip wasn’t a favourite of mine, it was a bit too sweet for my liking but the olive tapenade was divine. I was also relieved that the tzatziki hadn’t been drowned in garlic, as many restaurants tend to do and the tarama, well, it was just perfect. Also on our platter were delicious beef meat balls and chicken and beef kebabs. The chicken was beautifully seasoned and moist, but the beef was slightly dry. However, when in a pita, with some tzatziki and tarama, it made me happy.
On the seafood end of our platter we had grilled and fried calamari, both of which were cooked beautifully and were not chewy in the slightest; lovely, juicy grilled prawns with lemon and garlic; and crispy tempura octopus, lightly dusted with rock salt.
Although I didn’t have a main, I have heard that their moussaka, which is layered aubergine, potato and mince, topped with a Bechamel cream sauce and served with a side salad is great as well as their lemon and garlic baked lamb shanks served with mash. The menu is very diverse as they also have a whole range of pastas, salads, seafood, burgers, steaks, wraps, etc etc etc, so no matter who you may go with, they will find something they enjoy. Although in my opinion, if you are at a Mediterranean restaurant, eat Mediterranean food.
We decided that there was definitely place for dessert and shared halva and maraschino cherry icecream, which on the hottest evening of the year, was a wickedly welcome relief.
The décor inside is quite exquisite, but even so Rocca have no interest in the pretentious, snobbery that infiltrates so many restaurants these days. There is no charge for booking their Private Dining Room which is gorgeous and if you give Costa a call, he will help you plan a lovely evening of eating, drinking and happiness. I believe his exact words were, “You must bring friends and come around for predrinks and snacks before you go out one night”. FUN.
Rocca has a lovely vibe, is in an ideal location and serves easy to eat, comforting food. They are open 7 days and 6 nights (excl. Sunday) a week from 12pm with specials running throughout.
In the Kayli vs. Food smackdown, I am ashamed to say that I well and truly, smacked down. I wish I could have tried a main, oh well, I will just have to go again soon.
Note to Self: Next time I will go there hungry, very hungry.