did you know : the Japanese word for rice, gohan, is also the word for meal because rice is such a big part of Japanese cuisine.
So suzyQ celebrated her 26th birthday… Gosh… time seems to be zooming by at a lightening fast speed.
Of course, this auspicious event would be celebrated in style. Monday started off with a BANG! The most spectacular Madame Zingara hosted a group of 24 of suzyQ’s fantastic family and fabulous friends… and things got frisky.
The venue was a feast for all the senses. Walking through the heart framed entrance lit by romantic lights, the scene is like something out of a roaring 20’s theatre production. A quaint fortune teller and souped up “shebeen” has been set up outside for early arrivals to dop ‘n bietjie and have their fates revealed before doors open and the show starts.
A gargoyle, that turns out to be a very agile acrobat, swoops down on us as we are shown to our seats and promptly makes himself comfortable on my aunt’s chair before scurrying away to provoke a few shrieks from the ladies seated behind us by crawling around under their table. Its not a surprise people rave about this… well… what should we call it? A restaurant? No. A theatre? No. A circus? No. Its not even all three combined. Madame Zingara is more than just that, much more.
Punting “theatre of dreams” where “love magic” happens is putting it lightly. The Madame truly knows how to serve dinner and a show!
The ticket price is a bit pricy for students and young adults eking out a living, but by golly, it is worth every penny! The tantalizing 4 course meal is served by gorgeous men and women dressed in the wildest costumes and in between all the food and drink, amazing acrobats, exotic contortionists and soulful singers entertain.
The night by far exceeded my expectations. Which is kinda hard to do. I am the fussy one in the family. The night’s MC was the saucy minx, Cathy Specifc… and I do so love drag acts! She had legs that went on forever and the most husky voice on stage.. and was a definite hit with the audience that night.
So for vibe and entertainment MZ gets a big BRILLIANT. Now moving onto the food… Not bad. I absolutely loved the entree… I wanted to roll around in it! It was served as a platter to share between two – with olives, brie cheese, dolmades, humus and a stunning mushroom soup. I confess, I ate most of it, it was that good.
The starter, baked cannelloni, was good. Although I do prefer my pasta to be just slightly more al dente. The service though – once again FANTASTIC. Not a beat missed, as soon as one act ended, the busy busboys and waitrons were already clearing plates, refilling glasses of wine and setting down the next course.
The main meal was a delectable choice of their famous chocolate chilli fillet steak, a meaty springbok shank, seared tuna and a vegetarian red curry. I opted for the tuna but I was clever enough to sample all the dishes. I am lucky my friends love me and are quite generous with their food. My favourite for the evening must be the vegetarian red curry served with a spiced poppadom. As Russel Peters would say, :”it was mind blasting!” The fillet was a bit too well done for my liking, the shank had a strong, game-y taste and my tuna… would have been drool-enducing if only they left the gooseberries out of it. Not a fan of gooseberries as you can tell.
But I am being unfair, the whole tent had to be served at the same time and the kitchen staff must have slaved harder than those elves in the Hogwarts kitchens. For reviewing purposes I do have to be slightly critical though.. Don’t want to seem biased or unrealistic.
The trio of desserts, now that was something to behold. A delicious creme brulee teamed with steaming malva pudding and a fresh strawberry mousse. The perfect end to a practically magical evening.
Rounds of drinks ordered and belts loosened while the night’s events sink and and form wonderful, rose tinted memories… in our blissful states we almost forgot it was a Monday and that we all would still have to face a full week of work…
The mobile venue was quite good in ensuring that we, the consumers wouldn’t have to face port-a-potties and the facilities were clean and tiled. The rustic outdoors shebeen and blinking fairy lights makes it easy to think that in this concrete jungle of Johannesburg, a fantastical, mystical “theatre of dreams” has spontaneously combusted to exist just for our pleasure… yet Madame Zingara still manages to inspire. Proceeds from their tiny store that sells feather boas, ridiculously small hats, funky glasses and other creative costume ideas (for people who were liquored up enough to join the waiters in dressing up) go to charity and their own sort of reach-for-a-dream foundation.
Women in lycra, angels on stilts, men in heels and muscular young men in feather boas spill out onto the floor and pull patrons up to dance and do the conga. The feasting has ended but the night has just begun…
eLLe’s score: incredible 9 out of 10
Recommendations: book months in advance! Those reading now will probably have to wait until the Theatre is up in Johannesburg again as they’re booked out until May.
All-in-all it was an experience that was one for the books. If you get the chance, POUNCE!