Dias Tavern Restaurant Review, City Bowl, Cape Town, 13.01.12

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The last time I ate at Dias Tavern it was about ten years ago and I don’t remember much about the meal, other than that it’s a Portuguese restaurant. Since then I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews, equally as poor as good. It seems the service was slow, restaurant was cheap and food was mediocre. I remember the restaurant being on the “shabby” side of life but what pub / tavern isn’t? Isn’t that the point of this style of establishment, the “local” being a low key place to relax “home away from home”? With this in mind I was happy to visit Dias’ Tavern last night and see for myself.

On entry, I enjoyed the no animals, alcohol, drugs, dagga (marijuana), guns, etc sign at the foot of the stairs. Oh dear, maybe the rumours were true! I could hear a cheerful restaurant but I was very surprised when we walked into such a bustling restaurant; it probably does about 120 covers if not more. Does this mean the food is THAT good or that the kitchen is throwing out fodder for the masses?

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We were shown to our table and offered menus. We placed our drink orders which arrived promptly. The menu has all the usual Portuguese fare, prego chicken or steak, espetada, seafood combos, chips, savoury rice but I also noticed eisbein on the menu which seemed a little unusual!It took us about half an hour to order our food which became noticeable, however, our food was served in about fifteen minutes! I enjoy relaxing in a restaurant so it was fine that it took us a while to order since the food was delivered so quickly.

The waitress was attentive and kept the drinks flowing. Although she didn’t have the most friendly disposition, she was efficient as she remembered the drink specifics for each round (I didn’t have to ask twice for a glass of ice and lemon for my cider) and she did loosen up as our bill increased. Funny that.

Our food was enjoyable. The chicken prego which was beautifully spicy but did not overwhelm the palate. It was served with a slice of grilled tomato, chorizo and savoury rice. I enjoyed it but I did miss the vegetable factor – do the Portuguese eat vegetables?! Some plates had a slice of cucumber, tomato and lettuce which doesn’t convince me that the salad option would be any good. The beef prego was also ordered but with chips and it was also felt it was a bit “oily” as a combination, my rice may have been the better option.

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The espetada (250g) was dripping in garlic butter which tasted gorgeous on the hand made chips (No McCain around here). The rump cubes served with bread were flavourful too.
There were complaints that the prego rolls were too saucy and made the bread soggy. I wouldn’t mind this but it’s not to everyone’s taste as it doesn’t allow the palate a break from the sauce taste.
The restaurant isn’t the most glamorous establishment with big red plastic chairs to sit on, yellow walls with murals, flags all over the ceiling but the 2 piece band created a cheerful environment which had some customers dancing on chairs and “lang arming”.

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At about 10pm a customer jumped on the mic to sing Mustang Sally, this was way too loud and killed the table’s atmosphere because no one could talk to one another, however, overall, the in-house band was fun and considerate to the diners.

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