Ever heard of Peli Peli?
Neither have we…until Saturday night…
J and I headed out for our anniversary date with the plan to have a nice Sushi dinner followed by a drink and a cigar. An unusual logo on a building with blacked out windows piqued our interest. Here is how you have an unforgettable anniversary date.
1. Take a chance! Go somewhere you’ve never gone before. The entrance to Peli Peli stood directly across from our intended destination. The beautiful photographs and intriguing descriptions on the sign outside lured us in. What is African fusion? We didn’t have a clue what to expect. Choice was made. Let’s do it!
2. Try a new Drink. We made our way to the bar to wait for our table. We were told the wait would be about 30-45 minutes which isn’t bad for a Saturday night during Homecoming season. J ordered a South African Mojito – a classic mojito with the chef’s signature twist (still trying to figure out what it is) and I had a Mango Melon Martini ( Mango vodka, melon liqueur, mango schnapps, pureed mango, orange juice and a squeeze of lime. The colorful sugared rim was and cherry was picture perfect.)
Our table was ready before the bartender was able to put my drink on the table. We were seated at a 4 top overlooking the courtyard. It was filled with people and music. The weather was absolutely perfect for al fresco dining.
3. Let your waitress be your guide. If your server practically does backflips at the opportunity to present the restaurant’s offerings as if she’s serving a table of diplomats…DO IT! If your server can tell you everything you need to know without saying, “umm, uhhhh, lemme check” TAKE HER RECOMMENDATION! She genuinely exuded excitement about the menu.
When Cali offered to remove our menus and serve us The Tour of South Africa we didn’t need to deliberate long. She was so passionate about each and every course; her enthusiasm was so contagious that we couldn’t refuse. She was also careful to reiterate that if there was ANYTHING that we didn’t love, to let her know immediately and she would have it replaced.
Not only was she stunningly fluent in menu items, her inside out knowledge of each and every beverage was superb! She suggested the following Russian Beer based on our descriptions of what we enjoyed. Unfiltered for J and a crisp, bright, bold lager for me.
4. Let go of your preconceived ideas and aversions to things you’ve “always disliked”- you’re not the same person you were yesterday.
First course Peli Peli Chicken Livers. An outstanding combination of chicken livers with sauteed onions and peppers in a rich red wine mushroom sauce. I do NOT like chicken livers.AT.ALL. But tonight was not the night to let fear determine my level of enjoyment. Honestly, this dish was damn delicious! 5. Don’t judge a pastry by its chutney.
Basically this pie is anything but basic. A South African meat pie with a rich, buttery flaky crust topped with a sweet spicy mango chutney of sorts. Every bite a perfect balance of tangy, tart, savory and spice.
6. Never refuse pomp & circumstance. Or in this case Pap and Gravy. A fluffy pillowy cloud of ground maize sitting atop Boerewors sausage swimming in a sweet and savory cacciatore gravy.
7. Don’t be afraid to flex your Mussels…escargot style. Topped with garlic and parmesan. I am not a huge fan of mussels, they’re a bit too briny for my palate, but they were quite delicious. I would have licked the plate clean if I thought I could have gotten away with it!
8. Maintain balance! Even if that means equal portions of MEAT and veggies! Left to right: Mango coleslaw: Madagascar peppercorn cream sauce over prime filet; roasted red potatoes topped with sauteed spinach Huguenot filet with creamy bleu cheese bacon black cherry raspberry sauce; finally carrot bredie- a hearty carrot, potato and leek puree.
9. If you SEEfood….EAT IT!!! Gigantic tiger prawn, shrimp scampi, sauteed calamari, blackened kingklip and soft sauteed scallops on a bed of rice pilaf. Yes, I really did eat this little guy. It took me a minute to muster up the courage to put it in my mouth, but once I did I was pleasantly surprised. A little chewy, slightly briny, but overall pretty tasty!
10. NEVER NEVER NEVER skip dessert. Especially when it includes dessert cocktails and the most decadent Sticky Toffee Pudding. This date cake was moist and airy in the center and the exterior had a slight crisp that stood up nicely with the creamy ice cream and velvety caramel toffee sauce. The blueberries cut through the luxurious richness with a cleansing pop of bright tart flavor. It was heaven in your mouth!
11. Take silly selfies while spilling the champagne the restaurant manager graciously offers to celebrate your anniversary!
12. Live, Laugh, Love…because through it all, you have your best friend by your side!