Cajun calamari and jalapeno poppers for starters.
Cajun calamari and jalapeno poppers for starters.

Sabroso: A pineapple on the road to South America

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published Oct 16, 2021

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Sabroso

Where: 237 Florida Road, Morningside

Open: Sunday to Thursday noon to 10.30pm, Friday and Saturday noon to midnight.

Call: 071 482 1324

This pink apparition in a glass shaped like a pineapple arrives at the table. It’s a Summer Margarita, a heady mix of tequila, watermelon liqueur, Triple Sec, lime and fresh pineapple juice (R69). It’s delicious and distinctly dangerous. It tastes like cooldrink.

We’re at Sabroso, a new kid on the Florida Road block, taking over the space once occupied by Taco Zulu. It’s a smart, stylish modern space downstairs with a large deck that’s been redone. Upstairs is a lounge area and private dining room that is still being finished, our waiter told us. That explains it. I thought they had run out of decor budget, but it should look good when it’s done. And in the back they’re still busy creating a beer garden, which I should imagine will pump post-Covid.

I perused the menu as I enjoyed my more conventional Mojito stuffed full of lime and mint (R80). It's always a refreshing drink. I should imagine cocktails will be a hit here.

A classic mojito and summer margarita at Sabroso.

Meaning tasty in Spanish, Sabroso boasts that the restaurant is a celebration of the flavours, exuberance and culinary traditions of South America, from the fiery feasts of Mexico (actually in North America) to the legendary steaks of Argentina.

Apart from a page dedicated to familiar Tex Mex staples like quesadillas, burritos and tacos, and the appearance of chimichurri sauce for your steaks, there’s little here to suggest the flavours of South America. There’s no hint of the famed ceviche of Peru ‒ in fact there is no fish on the menu ‒ or the empanadas de pino, savoury meat and egg pies, of Chile, or feijoada, a rich pork and black bean stew from Brazil. Churros, the Spanish finger donuts might appear, but in a chocolate sauce rather than the famed dulce de leche, that beautiful milk caramel that no self-respecting Uruguayan dessert would be without.

But the menu does find some commonalities that we South Africans share with most of the countries of South America and that is a braai. So expect steaks, kebabs, chops and ribs. There’s even a mixed grill of beef ribs, brisket, chicken wings and boerewors which sounds a lot like a posh shisanyama platter. Then there’s a selection of burgers ‒ all 200g patties ‒ and pizzas.

The Sabroso burger arrived at the next table ‒ it’s a whopper with double beef patty, double cheese, bacon, caramelised onions and avo (R170). It defeated me just looking at this mountainous plate of food, but this customer was up to the challenge, polishing off every last morsel.

Beef quesadilla.

Starters are limited and include cheesy prawn tails in parsley and Parmesan (Italy?), cajun chicken strips (US), halloumi fingers (Greece) and trinchados in peri-peri (Mozambique). We opted for the deep-fried jalapeno poppers (R89) which were enormous but rolled in a nice crisp crumb and served with a cream cheese and sweet chilli sauce mix. Huge, but good. The calamari, cooked Cajun-style with cream (R89), was very good, perfectly cooked and with some slices of fried bread to mop up the spicy yet not overly creamed sauce. Starters certainly raised expectations.

Mains unfortunately didn’t quite fulfil them. My pork ribs (R189) ‒ you can also get lamb or beef ‒ were meaty and succulent but done in a basting sauce that was way too sweet. They came with decent hand-cut chips. I might have done better to try the anticuchos, two beef kebabs seasoned with garlic, vinegar, cumin and chilli, served with rice and grilled corn on the cob. I like corn on the cob and you rarely see it in restaurants, but then it is messy to eat.

Pork ribs with hand cut chips

My friend wanted something light after the big starters and settled for a quesadilla, a folded tortilla stuffed with beef, cheese and onions (R134) ‒ a Mexican calzone, if you wish. He actually ordered chicken, but enjoyed the dish which was pleasant and saved from being bland by the generous portion of sour cream and proper guacamole.

We skipped dessert ‒ basically churros, créme catalina (a brûlée flavoured with citrus from Barcelona) and the all too ubiquitous chocolate brownie ‒ although they do offer a range of milk shakes. I suspect Irish coffees would be popular here.

Food: 3

Service: 3

Ambience: 3 ½

The Bill: R748

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