FOOD: It’s been named as a meet-and-greet site for many of Polokwane’s more unsavoury political deals, but Basil’s Restaurant at the Ranch hotel is also an endearingly old-school institution for the most delicious flambé, writes Anna Trapido.
Politicians play with fire at the Ranch hotel in Polokwane. Many of Limpopo’s most unsavoury propositions are said to have happened within its walls. The hotel was named in last year’s VBS report as a meet-and-greet site where bankers bonded with municipal managers. Some of ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe’s recent indiscretions allegedly occurred on site. In years gone by, it was the hot meeting spot for Julius Malema and the cool kids of On-Point Engineering.
FLAMBÉ, ANYONE? Old-school service professionals live on at Basil’s Restaurant
The above political pyromania is nauseating but the literal fire in the hotel’s restaurant is delicious. Long after the fashion for flambé was extinguished everywhere else, Basil’s Restaurant at the Ranch hotel is still rolling out its gueridon trolleys and serving up the sort of 19th-century French culinary classics that call for a table-side conflagration.
It would be easy to mock Basil’s for its deeply dated menu and 70s-style dining room décor. It would be shooting fish/ canned lions in a barrel to find fault with the mangey taxidermy in the hotel foyer – but why mock the magnificent? The food tastes great and the staff (both front and back of house) are superbly skilled.
My partner and I ordered the chateaubriand (R360, serves two). The waiter arrived at the table equipped with a burner, an assortment of little jugs and a copper pan. He proceeded to douse our dinner in booze and ignite it all. The rare, centre-cut beef fillet was a perfectly tender triumph. The accompanying glossy meat and mushroom sauce only added to our excitement. There were teeny-tiny turned potatoes too.
It would be easy to mock the 70s décor, but what’s the fun in that?
After our main course we were full to bursting but (since I had no way of knowing when I would be able to indulge my passion for pyromania again) I insisted on crêpes suzette (R90). Again, the waiter doused, soused and flamed up a delicious table-side pancake performance. The queen of retro desserts was crowned in a heavenly blur of caramelised butter and citrus-laden booze. I can’t remember when last I was so happy.
All of the above requires the kind of highly trained, career waiters who have died out elsewhere. Fortunately, these old-school service professionals live on at Basil’s Restaurant and offer a delicious display of showmanship, expertise, elegance and excitement. Food as entertainment doesn’t get better than this. Avoid the dodgy politicians and focus on the food. Certain sorts of Polokwane pyromania are wonderful.
- Visit marriott.com and search for Protea Hotel Polokwane Ranch Resort
- Polokwane Ranch Resort; 25km south of Polokwane on the N1, R101, Farm Hollands Drift
- Polokwane, Limpopo. Phone: 015 290 5000