After reading The Chef Princess' blog post about the restaurant here, I knew I had to try this place out. I mean, she's from Cape Town, and lists it as her favourite restaurant. Capetonians NEVER show Jo'burg that much love. It had to be pretty spectacular. And what better occasion than a friend visiting from the Mother City?
Tracy is one of those almost annoyingly perfect people. I love her very much, but I admit to frantically searching for a flaw in her. She is a pretty girl with a great body, brains AND the oh-so-uncommon gift of common sense. She is funny and sweet, she has a good career going, head screwed on right. She loves her family, is sure about her religion, exercises a lot and is the kind of optimistic, well-mannered girl you not only want to take home to mum and dad, but show to your kids someday and threaten them with their inheritance if they don't find a partner exactly like that. She walks in briskly, armed with poise, a big smile and an air that says she has been manically busy all day, even though she looks fresh and composed.
Tracy is also very charming. So when the two men behind us are delivered a ceramic tray stacked with cupcakes [cue my unstoppable '[Gasp!] Cupcakes!' in the otherwise hushed restaurant], she somehow gets us each a cupcake from them. I love her. I love them. I love Thomas Maxwell already.
The decor is eclectic without hurting the eyes. Bare brick walls and brass and leather chairs that look like something my parents may have sat on in school juxtapose crisp white linen to give it a cosy yet cosmopolitan feel. And the small touches keep it interesting- mismatched black and white tiling, a large pin stripe counter, luxurious fabrics and an array of objects that keep you looking back for more unexpected finds.
We ordered wine by the glass in light of both of us having to be up at ridiculously hours [me at 4am and Tracy at 5am] and I went with Klein Steenberg's Sauvignon, which was light and fresh, perfect for the lovely summery evening.
Tracy was perfectly boring and had a salad. She asked me not to mention her boringness but I have to. Although I have to add that Thomas Maxwell's 'make your own salad' is a great idea and so she got exactly what she wanted, always a plus. Can we have this sort of feature on a menu for men too, please? Ta.
I had, by Chef Princess' recommendation, mussels with garlic, lemon and parsley cream served with crispy pomme frites. The sauce was tasty without fighting for the spotlight with the strong flavour of the mussels and the portion size is perfect for mains. And indeed, who doesn't love an excuse to lick their fingers? Presentation is done beautifully [the mussels more rustic while the salad looked as though much effort had been put in] without the food presented such that one does not know quite how to negotiate the first bite.
Because of the cupcake starter we had, dessert was not ordered. No regrets, though, as it simply means I will have to return to Thomas Maxwell. I already have a mental list of what I will order next time.
But then came the best part. Those two men, with the cupcakes? They never ordered those. No. Those come with your bill. Instead of the done-to-death breath mints, Thomas Maxwell places before you your bill and a tower of cupcakes.
Yes, you heard me.
This is officially, then, the best restaurant. Globally. Number one in Lizeland. I will be back.
And not just for the cupcakes. Thomas Maxwell is cherry red.
The other exciting part of the night was [part 1] Tracy and I spotting some very fine looking mens and [part 2] Tracy sending her number to one of them! Outside, on the lotto card holder thing around the corner, Tracy scribbled a note on a page torn from my moleskine and sent it to their table with a waitress. Will there be a [part 3]? Stay tuned.