Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Over-Priced Palace Of Dreams

I’ve had positively one of the best weekends of my life. It was so great that I’m still recovering from the after-effects… my version of a hangover sans the alcohol. The job hunt has commenced but in my current state of mind, I can only muster half of my brain capacity and as a result, production levels are low.

Part of this weekend was spent at Sheikh’s Palace in Rivonia on Saturday night… me and my crew of 15 dining on over-priced Lebanese cuisine to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. Now ordinarily, I don’t fancy Lebanese cuisine much (actually most Middle Eastern food). I don't like some of the cold dishes and I find the taste to be too bland for my liking (I hate cold food, there are days when I heat up my salad in the microwave, just to make it a little warmer for my palate), bleh. But I was feeling particularly adventurous that evening and had a little of everything on offer, topped off with an apple flavoured hookah / sheesha pipe.

Then the belly-dancers came out and gave us a good show. They were dancing around the tables in this somewhat posh restaurant and after their routine, invited many of the patrons to join them. And of course no one had to ask us twice. So high on Apple flavoured hookah I was rocking the dance floor with most of the crew (only two didn’t want to), giving those belly dancers a run for their money; and even the guys in our group who I didn’t think would be, were shaking their asses. A couple of hours, two full-on belly dancing competitions and lots of plain-straight-up-dancing to contemporary Middle Eastern music later, and we were all sitting around like stuffed chickens trying to find space in our tummies for the baklava, completely EXHAUSTED and high on life.

It was a new experience for most of the guys and girls in my crew. Not so for me because I once lived around the corner from a Lebanese restaurant in London and frequented the place often. Overall it was an enjoyable experience, but like I said before, VERY overpriced and when the bill arrived I nearly had a heart attack. I spent a good few minutes recounting what we’d ordered for the evening, automatically doing inventory in my head, weighing the investment against the outcome (as the business woman in me is inclined to do) and desperately trying to figure out if there were traces of gold in the food and what exactly did we consume that would amount to R5000 (just under US$700 and GB£450 and just over EUR€500). That’s like rent and groceries for the month for some people here.

Granted, we were 16 people and it was a posh restaurant but even that figure seemed too steep for me, taking into consideration that it did not include alcohol since none of us drank and most of the dishes were made out of lentils and vegetables with a few tiny kebabs and chicken wings thrown in here and there for good measure. And I’m certain that we didn’t consume five thousand rand’s worth of lentils and vegetables, and you’d most definitely get more chicken wings from a bucket at KFC for under R165. So someone is walking around with R4800 in their pockets. Must be those belly dancers. Anyways, the men handled the bill and we all decided that for our next evening out, we’re going to McDonalds where we can dine on Happy Meals AND get our faces painted for the effort.

We stayed over at my other cousin’s place in Johannesburg on Saturday night, taking the party home with us, pulling an all-nighter like we used to in the old days, talking and laughing hysterically until dawn. Great times indeed.


  1. i LOVE sheikhs palace, actually booked for the 1st of May. don't actually mind the price. the ambiance makes it worthwhile. and the dancers, friends of mine from Goddess of the dunes. so it usually a jam pack thing

  2. Even though I don't drink, I just check the wine price list, damn there is a bottle of something for R78000, I can buy a tata with that :) Looking forward to the 1st though. Glad you had a fabulous time Azra although I seriously would have had a heart attack receiving a R5000 bill :)

  3. Aasia - I wouldn't have minded the price either if the food was good, or let me say, if I enjoyed the food instead of just eating for the sake of eating. I don't mind paying for something I thoroughly enjoy (and even so I still think R5K is OTT and would rather cook and eat at home because I'm cheap like that). But in terms of ambiance and character, it is a great venue :)

    Toyer - Thanks man! Over the past year, I've become very conscious of certain things and "waste" is one of them ;)

  4. 5k is a bit much, especially for food that you don't really enjoy.

  5. To put it in context though .. that's less than 30GBP per person .. so not too bad for a high end restaurant.
    There's plenty of places in both London and Joburg where you get a starter for that much.

    Glad you enjoyed the evening though .. especially the afters ...

  6. Uzayr - We don't live in the UK and most South Africans don't even earn half of what the British do, so I'm sorry but you cannot put it into that context.

    And I think its gross extravagance (and unislamic) to pay GBP30 for a starter - considering that you could feed starving school kids for a week with that money... and 5K for lentils and vegetables? Even if I was dining at King Saud's Palace in Makkah I wouldn't ordinarily pay that much :D

    You should come with me on one of my rounds to the less fortunate. I can promise you that when we're done, you'd feel physically sick to your core and would never waste another morsel or another cent again... ;)