JUST BACK from a quick lunch at The Kitchen, caterer Karen Dudley’s new kitchen-cum-lunch-bar. Well known for her catering business, Wonderful Food, she has finally opened a place of business from which she now conducts the catering, but also sells food to the hungry passerby.
Lunch items consist of sandwiches at ZAR25.00 (made to order), a take-away salad at ZAR25.00, and a lunch plate which costs between ZAR40.00 and ZAR45.00. Items change based on what is available and what’s cooking on that particular day. Today’s sandwiches were bacon & avocado, roast chicken, melanzane & feta, honey-mustard sausage, among others. A range of fixings, from pickle to harissa, is included.
The lunch plate today consisted of servings of a range of salads – lentil & wild rice, grated beetroot, couscous, roasted vegetables, tuna salad, all delicious – and a serving of filleted chicken breast, either plain roasted or with tonnato sauce. While the chicken breast is filleted, the skin is left on and so you get that irresistibly caramelised chicken skin. Which I love… which I had.
While there’s meat – when available, the grilled lamb chops sway some of my best vegetarian friends – vegetarians won’t feel neglected at all as the bulk of servings on the lunch plate is vegetarian. The lunch plate is billed as “Salads (+ chicken/meat)”, so the salads enjoy primacy and chicken is an option. On ordering the lunch plate, Karen et al. will ask: “With or without chicken?” Without chicken, your plate will definitely still be filled with a range of delicious flavours (cf. salads above). So the take-away salad at ZAR25.00 looks like a good proposition as well.
The food is a personal ‘fusion’ food in that it certainly includes Karen’s use of varied cooking traditions, but the food looks ‘normal’ and doesn’t announce itself with nouveau riche fanfare; the food is at once familiar and refreshed. Put another way, it’s like home cooking in its warmth and simplicity, but the food has that certain eclectic something to it. We may all make roasted vegetables at home, but they’ve never tasted this good.
Coffee could be a bit stronger, but this did not detract from the sweet stuff, of which my friend insisted we try a sample of three: lemon squares (these were very fresh, and very good), an almond croissant weighted with almond flakes, so much so that it looked like a baby armadillo (one for breakfast with coffee and I could die happy), and, the most evil of them all, the Brutality Bar. I didn’t ask, but it looks like a variation on the florentine, or a pimped-up one: toasted hazelnut and almond suspended in a viscous (peanut-flavoured?) caramel, and covered by a thin chocolate carapace. It too is delicious, but I remain historically loyal to the almond croissant.
There was also a banana cake smothered in cream-cheese icing, which we did not have for fear of bursting, but which I espied being handed in generous portions to several hungry passersby.
The Kitchen is mainly the catering business, and the shop is filled with the crockery and equipment that Karen actually uses for catering. As such, there is limited seating and the place is geared towards the quick but delicious breakfast and lunch. It is not a lunch venue per se, although the food and sweets induced such mirth, one would imagine they were serving margueritas. However, if you work in the vicinity – it’s on a block across from Fairweather House, and between the Palms Centre and Banks Catering Equipment, not too far from Ogilvy House – this is the ideal place to grab a sandwich or have a plate of healthy, delicious food for lunch.
There was certainly some brisk trade when I was there between 1 and 2 pm today – people stopping by for take-away sandwiches or a plate of food or some Brutality Bars. Additional barstools were being delivered. Open only for nine days so far, friends and fans were also dropping by, so hugs and kisses were punctuated by the growl and hiss of the espresso machine, to the fond bewilderment of a small but growing group of new regulars.
For those of you on good terms with your bank managers and too lazy to cook, The Kitchen also still offers the Yummy Meals range of ready-made meals, which you can now pick up from the shop. Also, if you’re planning a party and you want absolutely nothing to trouble you at the event, get Karen Dudley.
(Disclosure: I have known Karen Dudley for many years, have eaten a lot of her food – but not enough – and have attended several parties hosted by her. But her food is still delicious, always delicious, beyond bias.)