“Offering the best in European street food” was all I had to read to peek my interest in Rua, a recent restaurant that opened in Cape Town. Rua is located in Wembley Square in Gardens, making it conveniently placed. The restaurant is decorated well: it has a wood feel and plenty of Cuban art-pieces, creating a relaxed ambiance. I was already excited about Rua just from the decor!
My boyfriend and I arrived at Rua just after 4pm so it was quite empty, there were only a few tables occupied. After finally managing to get the attention of a waiter, we ordered as many tapas as our stomachs could handle.
First off was the rosemary salted hand cut chips. The chips were seasoned well and were quite thick. But they were soggy, which became unappetizing after a while.
Next was the Panko Crumbed Prawns with Harissa spiced mayo. This dish was also disappointing. The prawns were doughy, so after a few bites, I felt it was best not to finish it. The sauce was not spicy and tasted like a thousand island sauce. There definitely was no harissa in it.
The next dish was the chicken and pineapple springrolls. An interesting combination for a spring roll and came with a sauce, that tasted of hoisin and plum sauce. The chicken was cooked well and the pineapple added sweetness that cut through the heaviness of the sauce. However, the pastry was too thick. There was more pastry than required, making the spring roll heavy.
Out of intrigue we ordered the chicken popcorn. Bad choice again. While the popcorn was crunchy, it was very oily. I enjoy greasy food every now and then but when I can taste the oil is where it becomes too much. The popcorn was also left unfinished.
At this point, we hadn’t finished anything we ordered. The last 2 dishes were the Deep Fried Beef Ravioli and the baby calamari. The ravioli was accompanied by tomato salsa (which was more like a sauce), guacamole and creme fraiche. Most of the ravioli was delicious. The rest was too hard to eat. The ravioli was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with the beef cooked well. It went well with the accompaniments, add a mexican flavour to the dish.
The calamari came with a garlic aioli and was also delicous. The calamari was cooked well, not chewy at all. Although not mentioned on the menu, the dish came with a salsa that added spiciness to the calamari (and also to the chips 😛 ). The aioli helped with cooling down the spiciness. After the previous 4 dishes, the last 2 were were welcomed.
It seems that the dishes are hit or miss at Rua, which is disappointing. The tapas are priced between R25 and R65, which is quite pricey given the poor quality of the food. I must admit though, the tapas were presented well.
Aside from the food quality, the service was poor. This seems to be a problem that a few places in Cape Town suffer from and restaurants don’t realise that poor service ruins your experience. As I mentioned, it was quite empty while we were at Rua so one would think that you will have an attentive waiter. This wasn’t the case. The waiter never checked on us, even when bringing more dishes. Getting the attention of the waiter was another problem, as it took about 10 minutes to get the attention of any waiter and a few more minutes before our waiter arrived.
I was torn between giving Rua zero or one cupcake due to the poor food quality and service. But the ambiance was great! So I’m giving Rua half a cupcake. Sad really, seeing that I was really excited to eat here.