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( 'Barazza' is a Swahili word for gathering/meeting place)

There are some restaurants we visit again and again, almost like clockwork (remember the seafood restaurant who gave us a baby shower gift) but there’s nothing I like more than a ‘new kid on the block’ and that’s exactly what Barazza in Hobart Grove is.

Tricky to find the menu, no one quite sure where to park; the questions abound. But on a

warm-for-winter Friday evening we navigated the roads of Bryanston, parked way too far away and strolled up the road to be greeted by bright lights outside this cosy, chic new eatery.

Reservation checked (I love a system that requests an SMS confirmation – who speaks on the phone anymore?) we were seated in the hub of the bustling Bryanston eater-outers.

I was warned to bring my own liquor as they don’t have a license yet; which I promptly forgot immediately after being told, but luckily they had a temporary one, and a few choices of wine available; so my father in law and I agreed we’d share a bottle on Pinotage; and we settled in to peruse the menu. Breakfast and tapas choices available (I sussed them out for future Saturday mornings) and 2 pages of starters to choose from – it was a tough decision for all of us. Not quite as many main options but a few stand out choices for everyone. Food ordered I wandered around taking photos and embarrassing my husband.

The starters arrived surprisingly quickly – prawns for me (duh), beef stroganoff meatballs on a potato rosti for my mother in law, bone marrow with snails (as odd combo) for my father in law and what was meant to be Asian Gyoza for my husband, but he got given the meatballs too. Since turning 30, along with forehead wrinkles, I’ve developed this insistence on standing up for myself (my husband, at 34, hasn’t developed it yet) and I patiently waited to catch our waiters eye – but Cedric was hungry so insisted he was fine and went on to enjoy the meatballs; as did my mother in law who, being Swiss, loves a potato rosti. My father in law enjoyed his marrows and snails and my prawns were delicious, although slightly uneventful and boring.

More wine was poured. I showed Erich my blog, and instead of scrolling down to see it in its entirety he opened the very first post and sat giggling as he read about our teppanyaki experience. Nothing makes me happier than making my in-laws happy – we're very close and they bring me so much joy; I love returning the favour.

Mains arrived (again, surprisingly quickly) Gnocchi in a blue cheese sauce with pears for Irene, the whole baby kingklip for Erich, pork belly for Cedric & the salmon for me. I sulked, looking around at everyone’s meals, such ordering-remorse, as I always forget that the salmon option is seen as the ‘dieters / health conscience’ choice so while everyone had buttery potatoes and clouds of starchy delight, I had broccoli and boiled baby potatoes. But I digress; my salmon in a coconut cream sauce was delicious, translucent in the middle and melt in the mouth. My husband enjoyed his pork belly (so he says; he did leave a piece though), my father in law loved his baby kingklip but didn’t enjoy Cedric reminding him it’s a kind of eel; and my mother in law raved about her gnocchi (like how I ordered a margarita everywhere; Irene’s standard order, if available, is gnocchi so she’s a good judge) I stole a piece and it was feather light and the sauce more creamy than blue cheesy (thank goodness) and then I set about finishing my husband’s better-than-mine potatoes.

Everyone was super impressed and enjoying the evening; but we had to stop trying to talk across the table, and stick to our dining guests either side, as it got impossibly noisy. Like concert crowd loud.

Dessert menus presented; more wine poured. My standard decaf cappie on its way. I was excited about the meringue dessert (of course I’d looked when choosing my main!) but it was a total let down after the delicious starters and mains. Dry (the menu literally proclaimed it a chewy meringue), way too much drizzled milk chocolate and some nicer-than-the-rest-of-the-plate black cherries were used to create this Black Forest dessert. Erich’s semi freddo was tasteless and slightly too icy; and although Cedric enjoyed his Greek donuts, we’ve been fasting so I didn’t agree with his review, because I think he was just so desperate for anything sweet and un’diety.

All in all, we left full and impressed with the latest addition to the Jo’burg North dining scene.

The parking is guarded street parking, or the little lot in front of Fruits and Roots, but you’re battling Wombles patrons for these spots; alternatively, you could park in front of Doppio and walk up.

Out of 10, I’ll say a 7. Points lost for the incorrect starter (No, we didn’t complain, but we shouldn’t have to. Lots of people just aren’t confrontational and shouldn't be made to be) and the poor desserts.

We’ll definitely go back to try the other tempting mains we didn’t get to have; but maybe we’ll give it some time to get its permanent liquor license (bring on the cocktails) and get their footing right.

#caseycritiques #newintown #eatingout #foodie

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