Gin and Tonic… I always thought it was an old person’s drink. Like the Mother from Madam & Eve. But after accidentally trying it out with a friend last year, because I was lazy and couldn’t think of anything else, it’s become my drink of choice. And with the growing craft gin movement, there’s always something new to try.
Unfortunately, since moving back to Cape Town I’ve been missing spending plenty of time at the city’s Gin bars. But that’s all over… Carbon Bistro, which opened a few months ago, is a dedicated Gin bar and they don’t disappoint.
Carbon Bistro is located in Brooklyn, Pretoria. It has a restaurant, bar and lounge sections. So it can hold a number of people. It has a modern feel to it and a relaxing environment. And there’s parking available right outside the restaurant.
I must admit, I was excited for this experience. I had been talking about taking a trip, a trip being 5 minutes from home, to Carbon Bistro and now the moment had finally arrived. Or I had coerced the moment to arrive. Lee and I sat in the restaurant area, which was a bit noisy due to the large party that was enjoying their G&T. But we didn’t mind, even though there was plenty of space and the manager did offer to seat us somewhere more quiet.
I like promptness, so as soon as we were seated a waiter, arrived with food menus and a drinks menu. As we opened the menu, we knew we wanted to try the luxury Gin tasting menu for R190pp. Unfortunately, the waiter had no idea what we were talking about. He kept recommending one Gin to try from the list, which was the most expensive. I think he didn’t realise that it was a tasting menu and we wanted to try all 5 Gins. Eventually, after telling him 3 times that we wanted to do the tasting and the waiter clarifying whether it was possible with the bar, we had our 5 Gins in front of us. And we were ready to go.
The first was the Boudior Saffron Gin, which was sweet and smooth. The orange peel and saffron were easy to identify. I could drink this all day.
Next was Sipsmith and my favourite of the 5 Gins. This was also a sweet Gin but not as sweet as the saffron Gin. It was a well-balance Gin and I could clearly identify the liquorice root, orange peel and fennel.
The third Gin was Elephant. Again, another smooth Gin but not sweet. It was a bit bitter but the flavour was timid. I had to really concentrate to identify the flavours.
The second last Gin was the Blue Bottle. This was quite a spicy Gin with the wormwood, apple, ginger and baobab flavours being prominent. I had no idea what a Lion’s Tail was, so even if I tasted it, I’d have no idea.
The last Gin was also one of my favourites due to the spiciness. It was Oplir and it had strong flavours of cumin (one of my favourite spices), cardamon, grapefruit peel, and black pepper. It was a well-balanced mixture of spices.
With all the tasting, we decided it was a good idea to have something to snack on. We ordered the chicken wings, which came with a coriander sauce, caprese and prosciutto skewers, and brisket vol-au-vent.
The caprese and prosciutto skewers were fresh and delicious. After the bitterness of some of the Gins, the skewers were refreshing.
The brisket was a puff-pastry with pulled pork brisket and bordelaise sauce. The pork was indeed tender and puff-pastry was fluffy but after all the Gins, the snack was a bit mundane. It felt bland on the palate and I think my palate was craving an explosion of flavours.
And the last snack was the chicken wings, which were delicious. Lee finished most of them, so I was lucky to get 3 wings. And that sauce was divine – fresh and complimented the chicken well.
To finish off, we ordered the Gin of the month, which again, our waiter had no idea about and had to go check with the bar. It was the Malfy and it was the perfect cocktail to end our experience at Carbon Bistro.
Although I enjoyed my experience at Carbon Bistro and had good service. I was disappointed with the lack of knowledge from our waiter. Everything first had to be verified so ordering took longer than one would expect. And as we paid the bill, with our stomachs full and head a little light, a couple 2 table down were being showed “specials” in the menu. That really disappointed me and I can only think of two factors that could have been the problem. One our waiter was new or two our waiter was insufficiently trained.
But, even though I had one hiccup at Carbon Bistro, I enjoyed the environment, being surrounded my Gin and delicious food. So I will be back. Hopefully, the waiter who serves me the next time will be well-aware of what’s available at the restaurant and the bar.
I give Carbon Bistro 2.5 cupcakes.