Marimba MagicIt somehow seems too cold and clinical to go for dinner inside the Cape Town Convention Centre. But that’s only until you enter the magic that is Marimba.Sparkly spotlights that illuminate a mahogany bar and warm wooden flooring immediately comforts. In fact, the infusion of deep browns, soft reds and plush caramels, makes this the perfect place to spend a cold winter’s evening in style.Especially now that they’ve got Lindsey Venn from Aubergine and Beluga fame in charge of the kitchen. Venn is the man behind Marimba’s newfound culinary reputation and the brilliant new concept dubbed Marimba Feast.He grew up in the Transkei and during a visit to his family, he realised how much more intimate it is "to sit around a table as family or friends and all dish out of big bowls".That’s exactly what inspired the new Marimba Feast. Venn wanted to take the traditional kitchen dinner and translate it into a stylish restaurant experience where patrons feel "like they’re sharing a meal together" – as opposed to ogling each other’s perfectly plated dinners.So this is how it all works... book a table for 5 people minimum and pre-select a couple of dishes from the menu (see below). On the night, pitch up, sit down and a wonderful spread wil appear on the table. Everyone dishes from the same bowls on to individual plates. It creates a lovely intimacy.Presented on beautifully crafted, African styled wooden platters, the food is simple — in some cases simple to the point where it’s a tad boring — but exceptionally well prepared. Not many restaurants get it right, but here the meat and the fish is perfectly done, succulent and flavourful. And where in SA they find such fresh ingredients I would love to know…You may find yourself trying to figure out what the secret to the perfectly convivial atmosphere is. Maybe the aromatic spices from all over Africa that bring sensational aromas and flavours to the table? Or the fact that the meal is all about sharing? Or perhaps it's the laid-back strains of classic Edith Piaff covers that float above it all.Only then do you notice the Kenyan woman by the piano in the corner, who's been providing the soundtrack to the evening. I look at her as I tuck into my banana toffee pudding and think, wow this is magic!Lize de KockiAfrica.com13 June 2006
MARIMBA RESTAURANT - FOR THE PERFECT BLEND OF GOOD FOOD, MUSIC AND CONVERSATIONDo forgive me if this review sounds like an advertorial for Marimba Restaurant. But, put this experience to the test: see the show and you know what I mean.Many people will agree that a great evening out would, in some way or another, include good food and some form of entertainment. The Marimba Restaurant seems to have the right formula to bring these two features together in a relaxed yet sophisticated way.The food is tremendous. The restaurant is a top class venue that also features fantastic music as opposed to a music venue which also happens to serve food. This makes a big difference in the perfect evening.Their attention to detail is second to none. Trio (Bongani Sotshononda on chromatic marimba, Nelson Malela on keyboards and piano and Sylvain Baloubeta on bass guitar) play the softest, most palatable jazz that stays comfortably in the background. The sensual Rene Gouf, joining them on stage, commands attention with her soft-as-custard voice and her confident but unobtrusive stage presence. She is a younger Cesaria Evora, I think, and no sooner had I the thought, when she started singing an Evora song, and another and yet another.Then Gouf and pianist Malela start to flirt with playful glances and teasing smiles - the rapport was electric. And there is very little more pleasing than to have great company, good food on your plate and your senses being stirred by the smooth sounds of a serenading songstress.RAFIEK MAMMONCAPE TIMES19 NOVEMBER 2005
"SOUL FOODThough the common perception is that Cape Town live music venue and restaurant Marimba is part and parcel of the Cape Town Convention Centre, this is only a half-truth. The beautifully designed space certainly plays host to many a CTICC post-conference function due to its ideal position, but it is very much its own dining and entertainment entity. Designed by restaurant expert Cleon Romano, the space pays homage to one of the musical icons of the African continent, the marimba.The musical flavour is most noticeable of course, with regular jazz singers performing during the week and adding to the sophisticated laid-back atmosphere. On the food side, new chef in charge is Cape Town wunderkind Lindsay Venn who has made his way here from stints at Aubergine and Beluga. Venn's inspired input at Marimba is noticeable - he is passionate about his country and the continent, and this is evident in the Pan African-influenced menu choices. My starter of Masai Mara Vegetable Sushi consisted of a spicy vegetable mix encased in a 'roll' of mielie pap and served with a generous dollop of harissa (instead of wasabi - get it?). This was a cleverely executed play on the Japanese speciality, celebrating local food heritage perfectly. My partner's ostrich carpaccio with an aubergine relish was pronounced delish though I thought it needed a little kick. For mains I opted for the Soweto curry (served in its own potjie pot), with sump and beans and sambals - it was sufficiently fragrant and spicy for a cold Cape Town evening. My partners main course of kingklip served with parsley potatoes was absolutely outstanding, and I will definitely be going back for another taste. After a post-prandial cigar in the super-slick smoking lounge and bar, we found room to share ivory "tusks" - white chocolate cones filled with a firm, dense chocolate mousse. After more music from jazz diva Denay Willie we agreed we would head back when next in the mood for an Afropolitan night on the town."Style MagazineAugust 2005
"Nina Simone show done the right way.I must admit I wasn't expecting what was present. What a show.Michell\e Maxwell extends herself by attacking the songs and music of simone with great abandon and exuberance....My Baby Just Cares for Me had the punters eating out of the palms of their hands.....This is a must see show even if you are not a fan of Simone because all the songs are presented to perfection. You wont be disappointed."Eric Alan, Cape Argus, February 2005
"I had a wonderful evening at Marimba and enjoyed some marvellous food and brilliant music. Tim was a wonderful host. Warm regards and best wishes" - Natalie B Becker, P4 Radio, April 2004
"SUPERJAZZ is a concept the Marimba Restaurant has launched as part of their Sunday evening repertoire. And if this is the kind of artists they want to host, then the term SuperJazz certainly is a most appropriate description.The evening of jazz tunes accompany the wonderful ambience and the good food in the restaurant and the music is never intrusive. The same can be said about the stage presence of this quartet. One watches them because one wants to, not because one is forced to.On a Sunday evening and at a venue where most people want to chill out, this kind of ensemble is perfect to wash away the blues of the week or to ease oneself into the new week with some soothing, soft jazz. Be warned, though, this is serious jazz. If you are an ardent jazz lover, then this is the Full Monty".Rafiek Mammon, Cape Times, March 2004.
"Wow - summore pse!!!" - Mynie Grové - South African music legend.
"A magical journey in music wonderland is the ideal embellishment to a wonderfully prepared meal",Rafiek Mammon, Cape Times, February 2004.
“Many restaurants fall prey to Paul Simon’s cynical statement that promises are nothing but a pocketful of mumbles. They all promise good service and great food. Marimba restaurant goes one step further with their promise of an evening out which is much more than just a gastronomic experience. They guarantee and evening of fine dining, outstanding music and exceptional service. The proof of the pudding was certainly in the eating as they kept their promise on all three scores.”Rafiek Mammon, Cape Times, 31 October 2003.
“It is possible to see trouble when you approach it. By the time you enter the doors of Marimba, that chance of you turning around is minimal,”Kerneels Breytenbach, Insig, December 2003.
“…when you listen to the brains behind the concept, this new music heart is still to beat wildly.”Die Burger, 31 October 2003.
“The Cape’s latest stylish hang out…”Marianna Malan, Die Burger, 18 November 2003.
“Not sure how to spend a Sunday evening? The Marimba restaurant is quite a good choice for an evening of fine entertainment and delectable gastronomy,”Rafiek Mammon, Cape Times, 11 December 2003
“Marimba fills a huge gap in the market. Where else in Cape Town can you listen to jazz of the standard they were playing on the Monday night I went and eat the kind of delicious gourmet food I are, which chef Gernot Bunke is renowned for? Marimba is a big, classy, jam-packed, sense-of-occasion restaurant with an international feel, designer chairs you can happily sit all night in and a couple of long bars for late-night arrivals. We even got a taste of Bongani Sotshononda playing a bluesy marimba. Perfect.”Hilary Prendini Toffoli, Style Magazine, January 2004.
“While its slick Afro-chic design and great food promise an experience on the expensive side, the restaurant's prices are not beyond the average Capetonian budget. With an audience made up predominantly of locals, Marimba also seems to get the approval of Cape Town's most critical diners – the people who live here,”Karyn Maughan, Cape Argus Tonight.Jazz, Rhythm and Blues.
"EVENING OUT IN A GRAND TRADITIONMarimba has become synonymous with good food and great music. But one senses that they are trying to go the proverbial extra mile with an assortment appealing to more than just the senses of taste and hearing.There is so much one can feel and see as well. It is all in the way the evening is packaged. There is something to be said for making an evening out a treasure and Marimba seems to have the ideal recipe - one that allows their patrons to spend the evening in their company rather than having to go elswhere to complete their evening.The evening is worked out almost perfectly - after the starters and during the main meal the show is mellow and low key - with just the right pace and atmosphere for diners to warm up to the band, admirably led by Dennay Willie who is in her elliment. The play list starts out as a sophisticated fusion of laid back jazzy tunes like All of Me and Route 66 and progressively becomes more throaty and comfortably loud.The only thing missing from the title is the word "soul". This show definately has much of it. These people know how to entertain and how to make patrons feel welcome, just the way an evening out should be."Rafiek Mammon, Cape Times, 12 November 2004
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