Dinner for four with wine: £100
One of my good friends is originally from South Africa and we’ve talked about SA food so many times I decided that it was about time we attempted to find some here in London. I’ve visited neighboring Namibia which has similar cuisine and ate some pretty delicious stuff when I was there.
I thought we’d end up having to travel to beyond the middle of nowhere but it turns out there is an SA restaurant plonked right in the middle of Chiswick (which depending on how you define it could be considered the middle of nowhere I suppose).
Once I found Chakalaka though I had some reservations about it. Mostly because their website makes entirely too liberal use of zebra stripes, shields, spears, etc. I was really worried that it was going to be some zany crazy theme restaurant, but it was the only South African restaurant I could find that was easy to get to on a weeknight from the office so we all just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. I should point out that Chakalaka serves Afrikaner food which revolves around meat.
The exterior had the same Zebra thing going on but once you step inside it all thankfully mellows out a bit and in the low light you hardly notice the decor at all. The low light also hinders the taking of decent photos but rest assured it all looked good in person.
I started with the Boerewors and Chakalaka. Boerewors is a farmer’s sausage and the chakalaka is a traditional piquant tomato and onion relish. The entire dish was served over a steamed corn pudding called miele pap. The sausage was nice and rustic, well spiced and the sauce and steamed corn were a tasty combination. Chakalaka is meant to be quite hot though and their’s was only just a wee bit so. If I order it again I’ll ask them to bump up the heat for me.
My main dish was Kudu steak served with onion rings and mash in a red wine jus. Kudu is an antelope and is a very lean meat similar in flavor to venison. The steak was juicy and tender – not too gamy. The photo is of my friend Sean’s meal which was a combo of kudu and ostrich which he enjoyed very much.
We had a vegetarian with us and even he managed to do quite well despite the obvious catering to the carnivore set. I assumed I would end up having to apologize to him for the lack of veggie options on the menu but by the end of the meal he was just as stuffed as the rest of us.
Despite the kitschy decor the food at Chakalaka is not at all gimmicky. The owners are clearly interested in doing justice to the produce available from South Africa and Namibia and I think they’re doing it pretty successfully. The service was also excellent and the wine list has a good selection of South African wines (try the Nederburg Noble Late Harvest White).
I would definitely go back the next time I am craving a big meaty meal.
1-4 Barley Mow Passage
Chiswick, London W4 4PH
(There is also another location in Putney)