As South Africa celebrated the Day of Reconciliation, my day turned out to be one of South African eating here in NYC. Although the restaurants were totally different, their owners had something in common, being thatÂ they’re both from my home country.
Lunch was at a little place I was told about on a recent trip to LA, by a journalist who had just moved from New York. He said I had to go to Paris Commune in the West Village, because it’s owned by a fantastic South African guy called Hugo Uys (although when he pronounced it he said “ice”). So today homegirl Lihle and I popped in, during what must have been an unusually quiet time as their website is filled with buzzing pictures of people eating, drinking and being merry.
In case you were wondering, I had the yummy Lemon Chicken but the rest of their menu can be found here. I actually discovered that Hugo was a top couturier in Joburg, dressing several winning Miss South Africa and Miss Universe contestants. He’s been in the States for over 10 years, and has been the ownerofÂ Paris Commune since 1999. He also, incidentally, has designed a line of deluxe clothing for dogs that is available in Bloomingdales. I was looking forward to meeting him but he apparently had a late night before and so wasn’t expected in until much later.
Another South African restauranteur I was hoping to meet is Mark Henegan – the man behind the famed Madiba in Brooklyn. My Zim friend and I went for dinner, which was absolutely amazing! She had Exhibit A, the Lorenzo Marques Prawns Peri-Peri, while I had Exhibit B, the Chargrilled Baby Back Ribs.
I’ve always wanted to go to Madiba – especially since my Mark is the half-brother of my primary school friend, Tracy. I’ve also often heard such wonderful things about the place, which I had the chance to see for myself tonight. It’s a space with high ceilings and yet such an intimate feel is created. The Miriam Makeba vinyl on the wall and the kwaito beat playing overhead are familiar and warm too.
Unfortunately, Mark wasn’t there this time, but that’s not a problem at all, I thought while munching on the Peppermint Crisp I got from their spaza shop. Madiba is the kind of place I can see myself going back to time and again – because even this NYC-love-sick girl misses her Jozi.
And of course, Madiba himself.
Madiba is situated at 195 Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn, NY – visit http://www.madibarestaurant.com – while Paris Commune is located at
99 Bank Street, on the corner of Greenwich Street, NY.