A Capital Craft Day Out
Capital Craft invited me over to try their menu and it certainly warranted a write up. The great thing about being at JoburgBrew is all the freebies from institutions thinking that a couple of free beers will get them a positive review…as a busy guy, I need to really be wowed to put the energy into a piece and this is one such piece. I could reflect on their menu but there’s something more to that place. It has an energy about it that resonates and this is why.
Again, being in the industry is tough because you’re never really sure if the treatment you get is based on who you are or if all the patrons are treated equally…and boy were we treated…by PJ Powers no less. Our waiter may share a name with the artist but he also put on a great performance. To the establishment’s credit, upon eavesdropping on the neighboring tables, it became evident that everybody was treated with the same high level courteous demeanor.
Credit should always be given to waiters who know their way around their establishment’s menu. While I don’t wish to just dwell on the service, PJ was on fire explaining not only the variations in the different beers but the various spirits as well. If you do ever go, ask him about tequila and prepare yourself for as insightful a lecture as you would ever get at Harvard, if ever they had a tequila course…likely proceeded by the unveiling of some wares straight out of Mexico.
In terms of service, Captial Craft could do no wrong, from rebranding a glass of water to “Tshwane’s finest”to insightfully navigating us through the menu, PJ’s pride in his work, knowledge of his establishment’s inventory and clearly sincere conversation converged to elevate the dude from waiter to Craft Concierge.
What of the food though?
Y’know those annoying menus that have so much on them but nothing you really want?…imagine having a menu with so much on but you want everything…from the ribs to the burgers to the salads and back to the platters. There’s a lot to sample and we got stuck in. In terms of starters, the jalapeno poppers deserve special mention; huge, tasty and really hot.
When it comes to trying out a menu, as a gout survivor, I tend to go as meaty as possible so this time, I brought my vegetarian girlfriend along for balance. When I opted for the Pineapple Express burger because the name is fantastic, PJ stepped in; admitting it was a good burger, though he recommended I try something he thought I may enjoy even more, Van Coke Smoke; smoked bacon and guac burger with all the good stuff on it.
He was right…again. As with the other food we had, it tasted freshly prepared, well cooked and didn’t skimp on portions.
Also worth noting is that if you’re dating a vegetarian, unlike many establishments, Capital Craft doesn’t just put salad on the menu and claim to be vegetarian friendly; there are many veggie options in the various categories of the menu. It would be great if they could come up with vegetarian ribs but maybe next year. We opted for the Cheeky-Pea bun, a falafel patty burger because it appealed to the med in us. While it tasted good, we felt it too dense and heavy but hey, give a Greek and a Leb some med food and if it’s not exactly the way their granny made it, they’re bound to complain.
All told, the menu is broad and appealing and, more importantly, the staff are able to aide you in navigating it.
I remember when capital craft opened its doors and it appeared to be a craft beer place. While it retains its craft beer culture, the infiltration of craft spirits is certainly catered for. While I’m convinced that most craft gins taste like toilet spray, informing PJ of this got him trying, successfully, to prove me wrong…and helping me not waste time on gin when he had some craft tequila on offer.
Of course, then, there were the beers. I could spend time elaborating on each but it’s not the function of this post. I will however, bring up PJ again, who recommended a couple of the beers. While we enjoyed some friendly beer banter over my dislike of IPAs against his lust for them, he put me on to a couple, with insights into the history of the brewers, change in taste of the batches and price comparisons all over town…this dude was awesome.
Of particular note is the Mitchell’s Milk and Honey; it hits you in about 4 exponentially improving waves culminating in a tones of a summertime drink.
I’ve raved about PJ in this piece and for good reason. Restaurants have generally become a place for lazy people to go so they need not prepare food nor wash dishes…a sort of communal outsource of domestic function. It makes me sad to go to most restaurants because, since it’s become their only function, I could probably do a better job at home.
Not so at Capital Craft. The place oozes its own identity everywhere you look, from the decor to the menu to the carefully curated playlist. Nothing on the menu is something I could easily create at home and even if I could, I’d be missing out on enjoying it in the environment in which it is meant to be enjoyed.
The lockers towards the back are the most telling. We were told that those lockers belong to customers known by the staff and as a dedication to them where they display small crafts linked with the identity of those customers. Astonishingly, PJ went on to identify person/group associated with each locker and their drink of choice.
The vibe of Capital Craft is one of the best I’ve enjoyed in my years travelling around the world. Why? Because it’s not the place I go to eat and drink. It’s a place I go to to enjoy myself while eating and drinking. Unlike most places who make that promise on paper, Capital Craft delivers.