David Moseley

When loathe and plate collide

2015-08-14 13:08

David Moseley

If you’re bored at work and need a laugh, have a look out the website or visit the twitter account. The site and the twitter account share photographs of meals served on everything but plates.

From caps to tiles to bread in a handbag, it would seem that restaurants around the world are going out of their way to make their patrons puzzle over the disappearance of the humble plate.

Ocean Basket, with their fish in a frying pan, probably started the trend to “unplate” in South Africa before it even became trendy to be different.

I’ve yet to be served a meal out of an old rugby boot (coming soon to a Dros near you, perhaps?), but the burger on breadboard and chips in mini bucket is a common theme in Cape Town’s restaurants.

It’s not something I’ve given too much thought, until I popped into a new burger joint last week.

The waitress dropped a note pad and pencil on the table, instructing us to fill in our meal choices.

Optional sides – because you only get the burger for that price these days - included original curly fries – THE original fries, from the time fries were invented? – sweet-potato fries and kale chips. Kale chips? Kale chips.

I asked what beer was on tap and the waitress duly rattled off an extensive list of craft brews, so many, in fact, that I got confused an ordered a Castle. Craft beers (and normal beers) I don’t mind, but then the beer arrived in what looked suspiciously like a repurposed jam jar. This I mind.

As for the décor, words and phrases like “grass fed beef”, “locally sourced”, “ethical” and “organic” adorned the walls. My eyes rolled like a jackpot win on the slots.

The burger itself is served on a kitka sesame seed bun – “sweet, light and soft to the touch” – and arrives at the table, yup, on a breadboard with the chips in a tin and some kind of unknown dipping sauce in a glass jar. I asked the waitress what it was and she looked at me like I’d asked for the secret recipe for Coke.

Tomato sauce and mayonnaise sat in little sample jars on a counter and looked on forlornly as serving staff diligently ignored our requests for tomato sauce. Next time I better write that down too.

The jars. The breadboard. The perky slogans; it was all too much. I cracked.

“You know what we need,” I blurted to my dazed dining companions. “We need plates! We need mass-produced beer from a large multi-national corporation that only cares about the bottom line! We need no variety! We need All Gold!

We need to find some fucking place in Cape Town that doesn’t think pulled-pork on a roll is the greatest thing since fish and loaves.”

We need a restaurant that serves factory-farmed beef that was fed the ground-up bones of its young from the most unethical farmer in town.”

We need beer glasses and we need chips deep-fried in lard left over from World War II.”

We need to take back our restaurants, Cape Town. Or at the very least, take our own plates when we go out for dinner.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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