REVIEW: A LESSON IN URBANOLOGI

Let's Eat!, Reviews

I was fortunate enough to be invited to try out Urbanologi‘s new winter menu this past Saturday and my was it amazing!

urbanology logo

THE RESTAURANT

Urbanologi is an Asian Fusion restaurant situated at the 1 Fox Precinct in Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg and is based inside the Mad Giant Brewery. Together, they work alongside each other to come up with flavours that make for the perfect food and beer (or wine) pairing combinations for patrons to enjoy.

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THE FOOD & DRINKS

We tasted six dishes either pairing it with the recommendation on the menu or with a drink recommended to us by our waiter.

1. Tempura Shimejii Mushroom with tamarind dressing and butternut purée paired with Mad Giant Electric Light Weiss

The butternut puree and tamarind dressing was very yummy. I was particularly fond of the tamarind dressing with it’s sweet/sour undertones. It definitely adds a little something extra to the dish.

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Tempura Shimejii Mushroom with tamarind dressing and butternut purée paired with Mad Giant Electric Light Weiss

 

2. Marjoram Cured Lamb Rib Kushiyaki served with fresh oak wood teriyaki and roast apple paired with Mad Giant Electric Light Weiss

The meat was tender and soft- always a good thing!

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Marjoram Cured Lamb Rib Kushiyaki served with fresh oak wood teriyaki and roast apple paired with Mad Giant Electric Light Weiss

 

3. Gamefish Tataki with orange, nori, sesame emulsion and pork crackling paired with gin and tonic

This entire dish just works. The citrus undertones are amazing. We paired it with Gin and Tonic, which is not a recommendation on the menu but the lime from the gin blended right in. Definitely a pairing to try!

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Gamefish Tataki with orange, nori, sesame emulsion and pork crackling paired with gin and tonic 

 

4. Heirloom Baby Carrots with star anise and orange blossom labneh and kumquat marmalade paired with Boschendal Chardonnay

This one is said to be quite popular so I just had to try it. What stands out for me with this dish is the liquorice and citrus undertones throughout. It literally tasted like the orange coloured liquorice sweet – yum yum yum!

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Heirloom Baby Carrots with star anise and orange blossom labneh and kumquat marmalade paired with Boschendal Chardonnay

 

5. Coal Fired Broccoli with smoked Gorgonzola cream and broccoli gremolata paired with Boschendal Chardonnay

This one was the best! You wouldn’t expect much from it but dynamite definitely comes in small packages. Words actually cannot describe how amazing the broccoli and gorgonzola cream tastes. For me, the entire dish is just so warm and hearty and, if mash was on the menu, it would be so amazing if it were topped on some mash alongside a yummy piece of steak. Hope this one stays on the menu FOREVER!

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Coal Fired Broccoli with smoked Gorgonzola cream and broccoli gremolata paired with Boschendal Chardonnay

 

6. Ginger Malva with like leaf ice-cream and popcorn soil paired with Hanepoot

I’m not really one for desserts but this one was good. The lime and ginger works so well together and when paired with the Hanepoot, another recommendation from our waiter, it just takes this dessert to another level.

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Ginger Malva with like leaf ice-cream and popcorn soil paired with Hanepoot

 

THE BREWERY

I was taken through the brewery as well. Definitely something to try just to give you some insight into the process the beer goes through before it gets to us – and, even better, it’s really not that expensive!

 

SERVICE

Last time I went there (or tried to) the service was very disappointing. We stood at the door and no one even paid attention to us and that was just a let down for me so we left and sat in the Mad Giant Beer Garden instead. This time around, the service was awesome. Our waiter was so sweet and friendly and always made sure the table was cleared and ready for the next dish. I can’t really say if this is how the service usually is or whether it was just because of who I was with, hehehe.

 

PRICES

It’s not that pricey but you definitely have to have some cash if you want to taste a wide variety of items on the menu. Even if you do find the pricing to be quite high, it’s definitely worth it.

 

RATING

10/10! Very hard to get this from me. The last time I had food this good was at La Colombe. Thumbs up to the chef and brewers for amazing food, amazing beer and overall amazing pairings. Can’t wait to try the rest of the menu. A special shout out to Eben! The time there was amazing.

 

Have you been to Urbanologi? How did you find the menu and the service? Did you love it or absolutely hate it? Let me know!

 

 

BEER SCHOOL WITH BEERHOUSE AND MAD GIANT

Meet Me At The Bar

Beerhouse, in partnership with local craft beer breweries, often host a series of free Beer School sessions where attendees are offered a free beer tasting and discussion session with the respective brewery for that week’s session. Beer School was hosted by Mad Giant three weeks ago (yes, I know it’s late) with their brewer, Eben.

mad giant

[PICTURE COURTESY OF Beerhouse Fourways Facebook page]

ABOUT MAD GIANT
The meaning of the name Mad Giant can be broken into two: ‘Mad’ refers to a person and ‘Giant’ refers to a dream; put it together and the name embodies the idea about people pursuing their dreams. The name is represented by a giant with one eye and this symbolises the founder’s take on a dream, i.e. It might be scary, unrealistic and awkward but you should always keep one eye on the prize no matter what. This speaks quite closely to the founder’s own life. He’s always dreamed of making beer so he finally started Mad Giant three years ago, eventually opening up their own brewery in the Johannesburg CBD last year.

 

ABOUT THE BEER
1. Guzzler – 4.8% ABV

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This is an easy drinking Pilsner. It’s very dark in colour, malty and not as bitter as the usual Pilsners. It’s dry hopped and even though this is more expensive, it does make the beer more enjoyable.

VERDICT: I really enjoyed this one actually. It’s probably that honey  and subdued lemon undertones.

 

2. Electric Light – 4.5% ABV

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This is Mad Giant’s Weiss beer, which is also their top selling beer. It’s the lightest beer in terms of alcohol and bitterness. Mad Giant’s Weiss is unfiltered because they believe this not only gives the beer a more creamier texture but also livens it up. Their Weiss is also quite dry compared to others but this makes it more drinkable. It has very light clove and banana aromas, with hints of pineapple more prominent when tasting it.

VERDICT: I’m don’t really enjoy Weiss beers. I did, however, enjoy the banana aromas. Can you maybe use it to give a twist to a lager?

 

3. Killer Hop – 5.0% ABV

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This is their Pale Ale. It hints of litchi, grapefruit and is quite sweet since they’ve toned down the bitterness to make it more drinkable for our climate. It also works well in Summer because it’s easily drinkable. Just like their Pilsner it’s also dry hopped.

VERDICT: I didn’t really enjoy. That’s just because I don’t like ales.

 

4. Urban Legend – 5.5% ABV

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Urban Legend is their American Pale Ale (IPA). IPAs are usually more bitter and more hoppy with a high ABV. Theirs is unfiltered so this assists in not ruining the flavour. They specifically use various ‘tricks’ in their brewing process so that it doesn’t taste too bitter and maintains strong hints of banana, florals, citrus and sweetness. Although the usual ABV is 5.5%, the batch we tasted was 6%.

VERDICT: Even though I usually don’t like ales of any kind and found it very fruity, I enjoyed it. Definitely those hints of banana again. Smells great!

 

5. True Grit – 5.0% ABV

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True Grit is Mad Giant’s Amber Ale. It’s an American Amber Ale but it’s not as hoppy. It’s a roasted malt, visible by its colour. It has hints of caramel, chocolate and coffee. The beer’s name is inspired by his dad, who truly embodies the meaning behind having true grit. His dad always dreamed of flying and having his own plane but never had the money to do so. He finally got some plans together and got started on building his own plane. This took 9 years. Once completed the pilot inspected the plane, they took it out for a ‘test drive’ and while they were up in the air the engine died – they had to make an emergency landing and dropped. The injuries left his dad hospitalised for two months. When he got out, he tried version two! The moral of story is follow your dreams and have the balls to try and try again.

VERDICT: Liked this one!

 

TOP TIPS FROM THE BREWER

  • IPAs usually don’t sell that well in South Africa. In America, however, it outsells Lager because it tends to be more fruitier than the IPA’s made in South Africa.  We, unfortunately, can’t make ours as fruity as theirs because the hops needed for that are more expensive since you’re getting it from America.
  • How to taste beer: Swirl, don’t dive in. Lightly swing passed nose. 1 second sniff. Cover glass with one hand and swirl then do two second sniff. Then drink beer and exhale through nose (this is called ‘retro nasal’).
  • A Weiss is referred to as a breakfast beer by Germans.
  • Beer on tap always tastes better and is much more fresher than bottled beer. This is because kegs provide protection and tend to rotate faster than bottles. Beer in kegs also doesn’t get any direct sunlight so its temperature fluctuation is slower, especially with hoppy beers. Darker beers do, however, taste better in bottles.
  • All Mad Giant’s beers are dry hopped except for their Weiss. Some beers are more dry hopped than others.
  • When a beer is dark in colour this means it’s made from roasted malt. Darker beers sell well in winter and are also more fitting for winters too.
  • Don’t eat, smoke or wash your hands before tasting beer .
  • ‘Pilsner’ is said to originate from town called Pilsen.

 

Have you attended Beerhouse’s Beer School before? Did you attended this session? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know!

BEER SCHOOL WITH BEERHOUSE AND EMBOMBI

Meet Me At The Bar

Beerhouse, in partnership with local craft beer breweries, often host a series of free Beer School sessions where attendees are offered a free beer tasting and discussion session with the respective brewery for that week’s session. Last week’s brewery was Embombi hosted by their brewer, Thabiso.

embombi pic

[PICTURE COURTESY OF Beerhouse Fourways Facebook page]

ABOUT EMBOMBI
Embombi is a local craft beer brewery based in Kyalami, where they use Brewhogs’ facilities to brew their beer. Their name is derived from the local South African term ‘embombi’ which means ‘let’s have a drink’ or ‘to drink’.

Embombi only uses local ingredients in their beers and, though, they currently only produce and sell their Embombi Premium Lager, they are looking at launching more beers next year – at the moment they brew about 9 000 litres of beer a month and aim to gradually increase this to about 25 000.

Their beers are available in kegs and bottles at about 48 restaurants and their marketing strategy intentionally aims to penetrate restaurants instead of bottles stores, which is why it would probably be hard finding this at your nearest bottle store.

 

ABOUT THE BEER
Embombi Premium Lager

The Embombi Premium Lager takes some time to ferment, which is what results in its fresh, crisp taste. It’s brewed to meet commercial beer and craft beer right in the middle with its smoothness compared to the smoothness of a Stella Artois or a Heineken; whilst its taste has undertones of caramel amber which gives it its fruitiness. Consumers describe its taste as slightly bitter, yet fruity. Thabiso says this is what makes Embombi’s lager unique in SA’s craft beer industry.

VERDICT: I didn’t really enjoy it. My lager doesn’t need to be confused. It should either be bitter or… bitter – not something in-between bitter and fruity but I personally just don’t enjoy fruity beers. But for people who don’t want their craft beer too bitter nor too fruity, it’s perfect!

 

TOP TIPS FROM THE BREWER:

  • Before increasing the local distribution of your beer, it’s important to consider logistics like packaging and local weather conditions during long-distance transportation to avoid issues like your beer going sour by the time it reaches its destination, for example.

 

What do you think of Embombi’s Premium Lager? Let me know!

 

Beer School with Beerhouse and Frontier Beer Company

Meet Me At The Bar

Beerhouse, in partnership with local craft beer breweries, often host a series of free Beer School sessions where attendees are offered a free beer tasting and discussion session with the respective brewery for that week’s session. Last week’s brewery was Frontier Beer Company hosted by their brewer, Brendan.

beer school frontier

[PICTURE COURTESY OF Beerhouse Fourways Facebook page]

ABOUT FRONTIER BEER COMPANY
Frontier Beer Company is a craft beer brewery located in Pretoria. Their beers are predominantly available on tap but they’ve just recently started bottling.

 

ABOUT THE BEERS
1. LAGER – 4.6% ABV

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The Frontier Beer Company’s Lager is an old-style lager that’s been brewed to taste familiar and contains more Saaz hops than any other beer in South Africa.  It has no maize and is slightly more bitter than their previous lager.

VERDICT: I really enjoyed this one – very crisp.

 

2. PALE ALE – 5% ABV

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This beer has no name as yet and is referred to by its Saaz hops code at the moment. It is an experimental beer brewed using an SAB hop. This hop would typically be used in ales with a citrus flavour that is quite evident.

VERDICT: I don’t enjoy fruity beers so this one wasn’t quite for me.

 

3. RED RYE ALE – 4.8% ABV

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This is a different kind of amber ale because rye is a key ingredient used during the brewing process. It contains 3 types of rye: pale, caro and roasted rye. This is evident in the hints of coffee/chocolate flavour that comes through while drinking it.

VERDICT: Not my usual but I enjoyed it.

 

4. DOUBLE IPA/Big Boy – 7% ABV

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This IPA is referred to as a Double IPA or the ‘Big Boy” because it contains double the alcohol strength and hops. It is the second highest rated IPA on tap. It’s made to be quite juicy, unfiltered and earthy with hints of pineapple and mango to make it a rounder and more satisfying beer. This is typically a winter IPA.

VERDICT: This one was a bit too fruity for me and didn’t enjoy it much.

 

TOP TIPS FROM THE BREWER:

  • Brewers need to wait to have the right technology for bottling to avoid the beer going bad once it’s been bottled.
  • Hops are difficult to grow in South Africa since it prefers European climates.

 

I’m really going to try and make it to all the scheduled sessions over the next few weeks! Have you attended Beerhouse’s Beer School before? Did you attended this session? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know!

REVIEW: BUTCHER BLOCK STEAKHOUSE – NOM NOM NOM

Let's Eat!, Reviews

Since I’m always on the hunt for a good steak, I decided to pop into Butcher Block Steakhouse at Mall of the South…

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[PICTURE COURTESY OF safranchisebrands.co.za]

THE RESTAURANT
Butcher Block was founded in 2003 by Manuel Savic and has branches across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

THE SETUP
I went to the branch at the Mall of the South. I personally just don’t like the setup of the restaurants at this mall so I don’t quite like the setup of the Butcher Block restaurant either. When I went it was just after lunch so it wasn’t that full but seems like it could get quite crammed on a busy day.

SERVICE
The host there is great. Friendly and attentive. But the only time I saw my waiter was when she took order, brought my food, took my plate once I was done and when I had to call her to get the bill. She didn’t check up on me once. The host did, however, which I appreciated.

FOOD & DRINKS
I ordered their lunch special which is a 200g rump steak with chips and a glass of Wolftrap wine for R59. I ordered a side of mushroom sauce for my steak as well – I absolutely love mushroom sauce. When my food arrived my chips were cold. It definitely would’ve been nicer if it arrived hot. The meat was good – soft, tender, good quality and done to perfection. The mushroom sauce was great – thick and creamy. The 200g rump steak with a side is usually R115. I’m not sure if I enjoyed my meal enough to pay the usual price for this though.

For the wine lovers out there, their wine list is quite extensive so that’s a thumbs up!

With regards to their overall menu, their Butchers Choice steak toppings and their selection of burgers sound absolutely amazing.

They also have a wide selection of sauces and starters – the starter I really want to try is the black mushrooms topped with cream spinach, garlic sauce oven baked with mature cheddar, mozzarella and feta cheese. Chicken livers are in the mix once again so I really gotta try these things, hehe! They also have a wide selection of combos and includes something for every kind of appetite which is rare. I’m not into desserts but they do sound yummy.

Their land & sea, poultry and salad options didn’t really catch my eye.

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200g Rump steak with chips & mushroom sauce and a glass of Wolftrap wine

RATING
6.5/10. They haven’t quite grabbed me yet with this one meal so I think I need to test the rest of the menu before I up this score. The service also wasn’t the best. I would try them out again, perhaps not to Mall of the South.

REVIEW: Aarya – What a disappointment

Let's Eat!, Reviews

I’ve been looking forward to trying out Aarya at Montecasino for a very long time and we finally did last night!

aarya

[PICTURE COURTESY OF Tsogo Sun]

THE RESTAURANT
Aarya, located at Montecasino, Fourways is run by South Africa’s first MasterChef SA winner, Deena Naidoo. It’s open daily from 06h30 – 22h30.

THE FOOD & DRINKS
When you think about Masterchef something very specific comes to mind, i.e. food that is awesomely tasty and a menu that is mouth-watering just hearing or reading about it.

Sadly, that was not the feeling I got reading through the menu. I felt the menu was rather limited and bland and I actually took a really long time to decide what I actually wanted to eat. We finally ordered the grilled salmon on vegetable and mash stack with roasted cherry tomatoes, rocket, pesto and balsamic drizzle and char-grilled bbq basted pork ribs with a side of fries.

When my salmon arrived, something didn’t seem right. It was supposed to be salmon on vegetable and mash stack – the salmon was only placed on green beans and I received no mash. The mash was then brought separately after we asked about it and we were then told that even though the menu says it’s a stack, the mash actually comes separately. I think the mash actually serves no purpose being served on the side. The mash was not nice at all. It tasted very buttery. The green beans had no seasoning, at least no seasoning that I could taste and although the rocket, tomatoes, pesto and balsamic drizzle was probably supposed to give some give some flavour to the fish, I don’t think it really adds anything to the dish.

From the taste I had of the ribs, I didn’t really enjoy it. The meat on the ribs from John Dory’s tastes better. The basting was tasty though.

They have a very limited beer selection (SA beers, Peroni and Windhoek). They did, however, have a wide selection of wines and cocktails.

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Char-grilled BBQ basted pork ribs with a side of fries

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Grilled salmon on vegetable and mash stack with roasted cherry tomatoes, rocket, pesto and balsamic drizzle

PRICING
Prices range from R55 – R220. If I enjoyed the food I’d say it’s worth the price.

THE SERVICE & AMBIENCE
The service was terrible.

The restaurant wasn’t busy at all but our waiter, although he checked up on us, he was never around when we actually needed him. Our table had no serviettes. A table or two away from us was dirty for the duration of our meal (they left before we had even received our food) and another table had not even been set again once cleared. We also weren’t given a steak knife for the ribs and our cutlery on our table was not matched up accordingly.

The ambience isn’t really anything to rave about but then again it was a quiet night. The music was ok – not what I expected them to play though.

RATING
1/10. Probably won’t go back.

Have you been to Aarya? What did you think?

Hanging With Leanne… is feeling annoyed at the SA on Tap Craft Beer, Food and Music Festival

It's A Date, Meet Me At The Bar

I can’t even begin to describe how I’d been looking forward to this event for the past few months, liking each and every post on social media like a complete idiot and, sadly, I was annoyed from the moment I stepped in.

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[PICTURE COURTESY OF SA on Tap]

THE EVENT
It’s suppose to be the biggest craft beer spectapular 😒

PRICE
Tickets were R130 online and R150 at the door (if I remember correctly). If you bought your tickets online you got a free beer and obviously a discount, which I thought was awesome! That free beer? You had to go get it at a bar about 5 kms away. Does that honestly make any sense? So that annoyed me from the get-go! Getting upset just thinking about it. Always a thumbs up though for the discount for buying online.

You had to buy tickets according to sessions, which I didn’t like. You don’t want to rush to the event, you don’t want to be limited to the time you are spending at the event and you don’t want to be kicked out of the event.

FOOD & DRINKS
I didn’t really eat because I had already been put off. They did have grilled sandwiches and pizza slices, which look lovely, and also had those knock-off churro peeps. There was definitely a wide variety of beers available. Wanted to get through all but didn’t because of the time limit – no shocker there! 😒

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Growler Brewing Company Lager and RedAle

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Riot Real Beer Lager Ale

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Drifter Blonde

SETUP & EXPERIENCE
When I heard it’s being held at the Bell Towers section of Monte, I already had my doubts about the setup – and it was horrible. You can’t use that area for a craft beer event. The food section and the beer & music section was completely separate. There was not a lot of seating area available at the beer and music section because they used a tiny patch of grass. There also wasn’t a lot of cover available. We sat in the sun throughout the entire session. I didn’t enjoy this event at all.

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RATING
1/10. This event was horrible. I mentioned it on Facebook and the Facebook Community Manager was an absolute dick, which put me off of attending the event ever again completely! I complained about their behaviour via the SA on Tap website and I’d like to give a huge thank you to Gavin for his wonderful customer care approach. Hoping to give this event a better review next year!

What was your experience at the SA on Tap Craft Beer, Food and Music Festival? Let me know!

Never Thirsty at the Sandton Craft Beer Fair

It's A Date, Meet Me At The Bar

I’ve seen this event pop up on my Facebook page over the past few years but I’ve always been too broke to go. Not this year! Even if I was broke I was going to go!

THE EVENT
Sandton Craft Beer Festival is a craft beer and food festival held in Sandton. 2017 was the 5th instalment of the event.

PRICE
It was R200 pp.  I thought it was a bit pricey at first but I think the price was absolutely worth it! Great entertainment, great intimate setup, great venue! I was happy!

FOOD & DRINKS
We ate before we got there – yes, we’re cheap like that – so I didn’t really take note of the food that was available. We did, however, buy churros (MY FAVE!) from some knock off of Paquito’s Treatery. Their churros were decent but they WERE NOT Paquito’s Treatery. I mean who can compare to their milk tart churros (please post me some if you guys see this 😛 ?) The craft Beer selection was awesome! Definitely something for every kind of craft beer lover – my personal favourite is the Cream Ale from 3 Fransen Street. And, thumbs up for the branded cups!

SETUP & EXPERIENCE
Everything was awesome! The event was held at The Sands in Sandton and I really enjoyed the intimate setup. When you entered, you had all the food, craft beer stalls and some seating and once you went up to the upper deck (not sure if that’s what you referred to it as) you had a wonderful couch seating area close to the pool and music area (it was my first time at The Sands so excuse me if this is the usual setup). It would, however, have been quite packed if you arrived late.

The entertainment was amazing! They included Jerry and the Bandits (love them!), We Are Charlie, Tidal Waves, Desmond and the Tutus and the act that really took me by surprise was Power of Thought and Greedy Greg (Power of Thought’s hands are SOOOOO soft, ladies!). By far some of the best acts I have seen.

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Jerry & the Bandits

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Greedy Gregg & Power of Thought

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We Are Charlie

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Tidal Waves

RATING
10/10. Loved, loved loved!

What were your thoughts on the the Sandton Craft Beer Fair?

Getting Down and Dirty at Sexpo 2017

It's A Date
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PICTURE COURTESY OF Sexpo 2017

Ah, Sexpo. Over the years I’ve met many people who have attended Sexpo and told me: “You’ve just got to go! It’s so fun!” So, this got me all excited thinking it was a really awesomely nasty and naughty event. Naughty? Maybe if you’re not familiar with the stuff on display. Nasty? Yes but definitely not in a sexy way.

THE EVENT
Sexpo is an annual sexual lifestyle.

PRICE
General access tickets were R150 and VIP tickets were R299.

Although I was determined to go this year, I grew increasingly less excited the closer it got to buying tickets. I honestly believed that the setup would be a dull expo setup that leaves you with absolutely nothing to do once you have checked out each stall and I didn’t think that experience was worth the price even if general access was only was R150. I was right!

We went on the Wednesday and received a R50 discount and I honestly don’t think this event is even worth R100, let alone R150 or even R300 for VIP access.

FOOD & DRINKS
I didn’t really eat at the event so I can’t really comment on the food and they also didn’t have the best selection of beers and ciders. If I remember correctly it was slightly overpriced.

SETUP & EXPERIENCE
The stalls were a complete let down. Nothing amazing or out of the ordinary, unless you are not familiar with what’s out there. The main stage? Oh, what a failure! We managed to catch some strippers from Teazers on stage. That show was horrible. There was, however, a decent dance act called ‘Hot In The City’. They were decent – not incredible or amazing or spectacular but decent.

The emcee kept giving out lube for some reason – I’m sure there were better “prizes” that could’ve been handed out. Who really wants lube? They did eventually hand out tickets for the Thunder From Down Under show. Now that was a treat! I’m not really one for male strippers but their show was the only amazingly entertaining show we saw so I’ll give a big ups where it’s due! I didn’t get a lap dance, unfortunately. This is definitely one to see for a fun, naughty night out with the girls.

The lounges were on a floor separate from the expo setup. It was about R50 to get in. By this time we were already disappointed so we weren’t prepared to pay even more for this let down. Sadly, we paid to go into Teazers. What a mistake! We saw two 5-minute strip show – yes, that’s how long a girl stayed on stage then you had to wait another hour until another one pitched up on stage. It was horrible. It was traumatising. The strip industry in South Africa is appalling.

RATING
1/10. Will definitely not be going again!