That Karibu Review

Last night we went out to Karibu restaurant on the Waterfront. Now, I know what you’re thinking: tourist trap. And you’re right.
For the amount of money that you spend there, you could have a really decent meal at a really decent restaurant in Cape Town. Or even Franschhoek, if you could afford the petrol. But last night we were with tourists and we went in to the experience fully aware that we were going to be overcharged for our evening. Note that the benchmark 2009 Beyerskloof Pinotage (available for R40 retail at the vineyard earlier in the day) was a monumental and record breaking R145 a bottle. Ouch!

But like I said – we went in with our eyes open, so that was fine.

Let’s start with the positive. Singular. The food was good. Not exceptional. Not OMG-I’m-going-to-have-to-stop-eating-and-phone-Cape-Talk wonderful, but pretty good. Which was nice.

Sadly, the positive ended there. Lets start with our waitress, who I shall not name and shame, save to say that she was named after a German car company. Beginning with M. And ending with ercedes. You might be able to work it out – I don’t know.
She couldn’t speak English. Now I know that South Africa has 11 official languages, but I’m willing to bet that her Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu weren’t up to much either. Her Spanish was probably awesome, but mine is rubbish, so that wouldn’t have helped much either.

Let me give you an example. I told her what I wanted for my starter; she wrote it down. I told her what I wanted for my main course; she wrote it down. And then she asked me what I wanted for my starter. Of course, she meant what would I like to have as a side order for my main course, but she didn’t know how to say that in English. Fundamentals.
Still – that was better than my brother who was given a random side order for his main course (not having been asked) and my mother, who was given the wrong side order with her main course. I got the wrong starter (unsurprisingly), my wife didn’t get her glass of water and the manager had to come and confirm what my main course was, because the kitchen didn’t know. Not great.

We were asked if the TV (right next to our table for the football) was too loud, which it was, so they turned it down. Then they pumped the sound through the restaurant music system anyway, so we had to shout over the commentary, never mind the vuvuzelas. Why bother?
The tablecloth was dirty, the napkins hadn’t been dried properly since being washed and the cutlery still had dried… something… on from the last diner. Or maybe even the one before.
It was poor. Really, really poor.

Look, I don’t mind paying through the nose for a “tourist” thing ever now and again when I’m with tourists. But for that money, I expect better than the dreadful service and tatty surroundings.
The waitress got a R3 tip on a R1,497 bill.
Having said that, she did get a free hint, as well.

The sad thing is that with the World Cup on at the moment, the Waterfront is full of tourists who now think that Karibu “South African Dining” represents the average SA restaurant, when nothing could be further from the truth.
When the biggest benefit for this country from this World Cup is the positive experiences that our visitors have while they are over here and their recommendations of SA as a holiday destination to their friends, family and countrymen, places like Karibu are scoring us a big own goal.

9 thoughts on “That Karibu Review

  1. eeeish, that’s pretty bad.

    i’ve always seen it as an “upper class” place to go to and the service and food has been excellent the last few times i have been there. one would think they would employ decent waiters or waitresses there because of it being an “african” resturant.
    i am really disappointed with Karibou as it has become one of my wife and i’s favourite places to eat once in a while on special occasions.

    i love the “The waitress got a R3 tip on a R1,497 bill.” haha! i would have done the same. definitely not even worth that R3 tip imho.

  2. “Lord, won’t you send me a Mercedes who makes sense… ” oh, sorry, wrong song. 😀 Sheesh!! Nearly R1.5k for a meal out??? Just how many bottles of 2009 Beyerskloof Pinotage did you drink?? And don’t worry about R3 for a tip – in old Spanish money that would be quite a lot… 😉

  3. That’s what you get for going to eat at the Waterfront, honestly, what were you thinking?

    I’ve always found that restaurants touted as “fancy” normally end up “crap” whether it’s because of the food or service. This doesn’t really bother me because I feel pretentious people (such as our friend Seth) deserve it. Pity the poor tourists have to experience it too though. 😉

  4. When I’m at a restaurant and things start going downhill like this – best thing is to call the manager and ask for a new waiter. That usually sends alarm bells ringing and the service improves substantially.

  5. Dear Sir

    Would you be so kind as to e-mail me as I wish to make amends for your unpleasant experience at Karibu Restaurant.

    We take all complaints extremely seriously as this is how we are able to keep our standards, unfortunately sometimes things do slip through the cracks and it is at these times that we need the feedback from people such as you.

    We do sincerly apologise for the inconvenience and will endeavour to ensure that your future experience is enough to redeem us in your eyes and in the eyes of your faithfull followers.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Kind regards

    Bruce McGregor (Snr Manager)

  6. My friend and I visited Cape Town from 8th June to 26th June during the World Cup. We were in the Vand A on the day of the first South Africa match and we came upon Karibou whilst searching for somewhere ,not too rowdy, to watch the match. Our waitress, Thandi, found us an excellent table with a good view of the TV, nice beer, and we had a very enjoyable afternoon watching South Africa V Mexico . We had a very nice meal before heading off to Green Point stadium to see France V Uruguay.
    The price of food and drink was on the high side but quality was fairly good and less than an equivalent restaurant in the UK so we were happy enough. We used the restaurant several times during our stay and had few problems apart from our final time there, around 23rd June ? We invited some guests ,who had taken us to a lovely winery in Stellenbosch previously, where we had a first class experience. Regrettably ‘Mercedes’ who could speak no English, I think she is Argentinian, was assigned to our table. Everything went wrong. She couldn’t understand questions about the food or wine. Wrong meals and wine were brought and it was a ‘Fawlty Towers’ experience and an embarassment for us in front of our guests. However we laughed it off and it is the fault of the management that the waitress was placed in this position without proper training. Someone should have shadowed her but she was left fairly helpless. It is an expensive restaurant by South African standards but we found it ok and most of our visits were positive.

  7. what a resturant what a waitor ,had a great time great fish on the braai,when i got got i could only do nothing but applaud the chefs the owners and my main maan the waitron what a stra ,sydney.great arrangement atmosphere ,everything .truely african

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