If you are reading this having never heard of Perseverance Tavern, where have you been for the last 210 years?! This establishment, officially recognised as the oldest pub in South Africa, opened in 1808. It began as a place to stay for travellers disembarking from ships at Cape Town’s Castle and received its official wine and malt license in 1836. Persies, as it is affectionately known, had many notable personalities count themselves as regulars, one of which was Cecil John Rhodes.
This review was the choice of one of the other bru’s, who is himself a regular. We chose to go on the perfect night. The place was jam-packed for the eagerly anticipated World Cup clash between England and Belgium.
Let it be said at this point, Persies is one of the best, if not the best places to catch a big soccer game. The place, from the time we arrived, was buzzing. Being such an old building, the layout is such that there are nooks and crannies throughout the place. The impressive part about this, is that no matter in which of these areas you are seated, there is a big screen in place to show the game. Our reserved table was perfectly situated and our excitement levels for the night ahead were at a high as we took our seats.
Our waiter soon arrived to take our first drinks order. They have a good array of craft beers on tap, offering various types from Newlands Spring as well as Jack Black’s. For the first round it was Newlands Spring all round with another bru joining me in opting for the Lager, whilst the other two chose the Pale Ale and the Passionate Blonde, respectively. These certainly hit the mark, so much so that we soon summonsed our waiter back for round 2. This time three of us opted for a Jack Black’s Lager with the other one going, again, for another Passionate Blonde. I think the fact that he is getting married to a blonde (who one can only assume must be extremely passionate) in a few months has swayed the frontal lobes in his brain. These lobes, science tells us, are the parts of the human brain responsible for decision-making. That being said, it was a great tasting beer, indeed.
The hunger which soon engulfed us was intense. Persies has a great variety of starters and mains on their menu. We decided to go with a portion of nachos (which came covered with salsa, sour cream, cheddar, mozzarella, and topped with guacamole) and chilli poppers (jalapenos stuffed with cheddar, bacon, feta, and served with guacamole, sour cream and a sweet chilli sauce).
They soon arrived, along with another round of beers, and the bru’s and I soon went to work on them. The nachos were not bad, but definitely not the best we have ever had. That being said, it included the most delicious homemade tomato sauce imaginable. It definitely saved the dish from being a mediocre one. Now the poppers, on the other hand, OMG – it was a tongue orgasm of the highest order! The light panko crisp batter was perfectly cooked and, once bitten into, gave way to the most incredible flavour combination of cheese and bacon. It truly was as tasty a plate of food as I can remember. They weren’t the hottest poppers we have ever had, but the flavour of the jalapeno was definitely there. So far there were contrasting results from the starters, but we were all excited for what the mains would have in store for us.
Again, here the selection was vast and a number of the items were toss-ups. Finally, three of the bru’s went for the Persies Burger (bacon, avocado, camembert) while I opted for the Popper Burger (served with two poppers on the side and a sweet chilli sauce). It is not often that I incorporate my starter into my main, but for reasons written about earlier, I just could not resist.
The burgers soon arrived and the first thing that struck us was that the portion sizes were incredibly generous. We bid our conversation farewell for a few minutes as we began to tuck in. The basting sauce on the burger was absolutely top-drawer. It was exceptional and took the meal to another level. The patty of the burger, itself, was perfectly charred on the outside which, when combined with the basting, gave an incredible smoky barbeque flavour. The inside of my patty was more on the medium-rare side which wasn’t to my absolute liking, however it definitely wasn’t worth sending back for a re-fry. The poppers were just as delicious as the starter portion we had prior. Two of the other bru’s thoroughly enjoyed theirs but the same cannot be said for the fourth. A glimpse at his patty showed that it was extremely underdone. Now, normal folk would have just sent it back to be cooked further. For some inexplicable reason, however, he tried to get though it until it got to a point where he couldn’t go any further. His meal ended with half of it being left behind.
That pretty much was the perfect summation of the experience. Sublime in parts but a let-down in others. Much like the soccer game being shown that night, the potential was for so much more, but it was blighted by some poor execution.
One aspect of the night which was without fault was the service. On such a busy night, it would not be unusual for us to, on occasion, have empty glasses – sometimes more than once in a night. Our waiter did not put a foot wrong the entire night. As well as his performance, the teamwork of the waitering staff was such that there was never an occasion when empty glasses were left on our table, with different people working together to clear tables throughout the night.
Out of all the aspects which we rate and review on, my personal opinion is that great service is the most important one which will keep me going back. So, while the food was slightly hit and miss (although definitely more hit than miss) it is the service that will most definitely warrant more visits in the future!
Beginnings – Great variety, with the poppers being the clear standout. That said, the nachos were average. 4
Burgers – It had everything going for it, only to be let down by the cooking of the patties. Such a shame as it would have been an easy 5, otherwise. 3.5
Beers – Good variety, enough to appeal to all beer lovers. 4
Bringers – Could not fault the service at all! Our waiter was extremely efficient and it was great to see the entire staff happy to pitch in to help each other. 5
Background – A true old-world charm in a cosy atmosphere, blended with a packed house buzzing with excitement for a big World Cup game – what could be better? 5