Pepenero review

You might be surprised that I hadn’t eaten at Pepenero until now. I had popped in for a drink to check the place out but was put off eating there by the many reports of bad service and average food at high prices. Now they are running some specials, and being a sucker for a special, I went to check it out.

At the moment, sushi is half price until 7pm (Beluga has really started a trend – a trend I like) as are cocktails. There is a seafood platter for R110 and 1kg of prawns for R100. Oysters are R8. The prices I quote in the review are full price.

We started with some sushi, I ordered what I always order at Beluga so I could compare. I wasn’t overly impressed, the salmon roses (R55) looked quite dark, I don’t know why. They tasted ok, but they were quite small. The prawn tempura california roll (R65) was not so great, it tasted like the prawn had been boiled before being fried. My partner had the rainbow roll (R55) which was fine.

We then shared the seafood platter special (R110). It was pretty good. I liked that the platter it came on was hot so the seafood didn’t get cold. It would be a very generous portion for 1 person, sharing it after sushi was just right. The seafood was prepared well, the prawns were nice and firm, the fish was excellent. There wasn’t anything I would really complain about except they were quite frugal with the chips (which I had swopped with the rice). It also came with a garlic sauce and plenty of lemon wedges. For dessert we had the creme brulee (R40), nice topping but quite runny and bland.

The thing I liked most was that they brought finger bowls just as we were finishing up. That is something which is difficult to find these days. Normally you either get them so late that you’ve gone to the restroom to wash your hands or they bring it with the food so that when you want to use it, it’s cold. For that reason, I’m going to say the service was good, plus everything arrived promptly and there were no mistakes.

They also currently have a special on a Sauvignon Blanc at R99 per bottle, I had a couple of glasses of that and it’s very nice. It went well with the sushi and seafood platter. The wine list is quite extensive, most decent wines knocking on R200 and going up from there, but there are some wines under R150 if you are wanting to keep the bill appropriate to these trying financial times.

I browsed the menu and if I was to skip the specials and order a la carte, I would probably have the tuna carpaccio (R40) as a starter, or maybe the honey & soy chicken salad (R60). For mains I might try the grilled sardines (R80), although I would be setting myself up for disappointment after the magnificent sardines at Toni’s. Perhaps the fillet (R100) would be a safer bet, although again, the fillet at Sevruga is going to be hard to beat. For dessert I’d try the white chocolate cheescake (R50), sounds hectic. Hmm, that meal just set me back R210, I think I’ll stick with the specials for now.

Pepenero Restaurant
Bay Road, Mouille Point
Tel: 021 439 9027
http://www.pepenero.co.za/

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21 Responses

  1. JP Rossouw says:

    Sushi specials and half-price sushi seems to me both a hazardous sport and also a quicker way to rid the ocean of tuna?

  2. Dax says:

    Two good points, JP.

    It strikes me that restaurants make a lot of money out of sushi, so it’s possible that selling it at a reduced price is still quite profitable. I know that Beluga’s sushi is not always as fresh as it should be, but there could be various reasons for that. I would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on the profitability of sushi. It does seem that every restaurant and its dog is trying to get into the game.

    On the second point, seeing as there is very little fish in sushi, does that make it a better option than ordering line fish? Or is the wastage so great that it is not a great option, environmentally speaking?

  3. Dax says:

    I ate at Pepenero again the other night. I tried another one of their Spring specials, the rump steak and chips for R80. the steak was very good and a generous portion. I had it with pepper sauce (included in the price) which was excellent.

    My glass of shiraz was lovely, but added R40 to my meal.

    A friend at the table unwittingly ordered the prawn tempura as a starter. It looked like a starter, with just 5 prawns but when we queried the charge of R80 we were told it only comes as a main. They could have informed us when we ordered but to their credit they did deduct R20.

    I did note that the prawn tempura tasted strongly like boiled prawn inside the batter, just like my prawn tempura califonia roll (see review above). I don’t know how tempura is made but that boiled smell and taste is quite off putting.

  4. JP Rossouw says:

    Apologies for the silence, been away. Your further points are worth exploring. Off the cuff, I would comment that the tuna used for sushi plates is the “fillet” and I do wonder where the rest goes. A meal I recently had at Joostenberg (http://www.rossouwsrestaurants.com/blog/2008/10/pig-on-a-plate-at-joostenberg-bistro-paarl/) made me again think of our restaurant’s prevalence for wastage when it comes to meat – which is of course both non-sustainable and leads, all the more, to people having a wasteful, careless approach to food and no thought to the animal.

  5. Dax says:

    Having just watched Earthlings, I’m even more in agreement with you, JP.

    I like your choice of words, that we have a ‘careless approach’ to food. It’s as if we couldn’t care less about where it comes from: the treatment of the animals and the damage to the environment.

    We need more awareness and that awareness must elicit a response from us, a change in the way we eat.

    We meed to return to the earlier ways of eating, where consumption was more moderate and waste was frowned upon.

  6. Dax says:

    I ate lunch here again today. While my seafood platter special was good, the sushi was very average, the steak was not as good as the other night (too much sinew and fat) and my biggest complaint is that they only serve imported bottled water.

    We have fantastic local bottled water, it is highly environmentally irresponsible to sell imported water these days.

  7. Greg says:

    I agree with the water thing, but I was there last night I saw they stock the La Vie range of waters. Is this not a local brand?

  8. Dax says:

    They said they were going to be stocking them, but hadn’t yet on my last visit. If you saw La Vie when you were there, that must mean they now stock it.

    Well done Pepenero, stocking water from down the road shows some respect for the environment (hopefully it’s in glass bottles?).

  9. Schalk says:

    We were visiting from Pretoria and my daughter decided to treat us at Pepenero on Friday 20 December. I was overwhelmed by their hospitality. Our waiter, Lloyd, must be the best waiter in town. He made us feel like old friends and the maitre‘d also came to the party. My wife and I each had the seafood platter and my daughter enjoyed the sushi. The meals were fresh and well prepared. The ambience was very pleasant making Pepeneros one of the best restaurants I’ve visited lately. We advised my sister-in-law who will be visiting Cape Town over the festive season to spend Christmas lunch at Pepenero so that she could be with “family”.

  10. Dax says:

    We tried to eat here last night. The hostess did a great job of finding us a table in what was a very full restaurant. But once we were seated we were completely ignored. Even the manager (at least it looked like he was the manager) walked past several times and seemed determined to avoid eye contact.

    After 15 minutes we left. We ended up at Sevruga and had a great meal with good service.

  11. Fustbariclation says:

    These are all quite old reviews, from the end of last year. I’ve been to Pepenero more recently and was not impressed – the smell of smoke, the expensive dishes and very slow service were not good. We had a pleasant waiter, certainly, be he was unable to turn the music down, even though it made conversation all but impossible. If we’d had the chance we’d have left, but we were with a group, so were forced to stay longer than we’d have liked.

  12. darren says:

    how anyone could eat in place where they call it an italian name and then have to translate it underneath.

  13. David says:

    Recently took a group of 10 for lunch. The service was so incredibly slow, none of us will go there again. We arrived at 12:30 and were only finished by 3:00, after deciding to skip dessert.

  14. Dax says:

    I had dinner at Pepenero last night, 17 months after my last meal there (my, how time flies).

    They have been running their specials the whole time and it seems to have made a difference. The place was full and I hear it has been like that for a while.

    We were well looked after and our food was good. The 1kg of prawns for R99 was enjoyed by my partner and I had the seafood platter for R130. This has increased in size to the point that I couldn’t finish it, excellent value.

    I’ll certainly not wait 17 months to return.

  15. Fustbariclation says:

    Have they sorted out their smoking problem? I know the legislation has changed, so they ought to have, but last time I was there the whole place stank of cigarette smoke.

  16. Carla says:

    Their Zupa di Pesce is excellent!! R115 and it is great!!

  17. Fustbariclation says:

    Does the place still stink of cigarettes – or have they fixed that?

  18. Carla says:

    Seems like it is fixed 🙂

  19. Carla says:

    Me again and i am embarrassed to say that i gave this restaurant a “good review” before. Tonight this was definitely the worst dining experience in my entire life – i hope you have some time to read this (everything went wrong from the time we arrived):

    I made a reservation for 8pm and asked for a table outside as we are smokers – i had 2 friends with me from the UK and it was a birthday dinner. We arrived, seated in the middle of the restaurant where everybody was watching the soccer game. I stated the we had a booking outside? Nobody assisted us so we seated ourselves outside nevertheless. Then we were told to move as the heaters weren’t working on that section. Ok. I ordered soda water, i received lemonade. (I noticed no salt, pepper, serviets etc on the table but i was curious to see what the waiter would do…..). We ordered 6 oysters each as starters, mussels as the main and one main salad for the birthday girl. We asked for fries and veggies with our main courses. WELL, the mussels arrived as well as the salad. A few minutes later, 2 bowls of veggies, placed on one end of the table, a few minutes later 3 bowls of cold chips. A minute later our oysters arrived, no pepper, no oyster forks and all the food was just all over the table, getting cold. I asked “how can you serve oysters after, actually at the same time as our mains?” The waiter said “i put the entire order in at the same time” and simply smiled at me. I asked for oyster forks, my friend asked for ketchup and our waiter didn’t know what that was.

    We sent the mussels back as by now they were cold, as well as the chips. The Manager came to our table and asked what the problem was. I actually didn’t know how to start. She apologised. We then ordered two more mains – steak, medium, and one linefish. My friend had now finished her salad and said goodbye and left! Anyway, we ended up getting more mussels, a very rare steak and my linefish. By this time i was not even going to complain anymore. I could not wait to get out of there quickly enough.

    I am so embarrassed that i suggested this restaurant to my visitors (who were speechless)for her birthday as it was a complete disaster – i will never go back there – it should have a negative zero rating.

    PS – i think i need to take my friends out again for a birthday dinner to make it up to them, now the question is where as i cannot put them through a re-run of a dining experience such as tonight’s. Any suggestions please?

    • Dax says:

      Gosh, that does sound like a nightmare experience.

      What about Wakame across the road? I take guests there often and they always love it. Otherwise, La Mouette…