Venture inside and the difference is even more obvious, the shiny chandeliers and mirrors on the wall together with the fine table linens give the room the air of a grand old English sea-side hotel (for those of us of a background and age to remember such an institution!).
Seated comfortably in my well-cushioned chair waiting for my dining companion, I asked for a Savanna cider. Alas the only supposed cider equivalent available was a Sarita, a disappointing substitute.
I perused the comprehensive wine list which is incorporated in the dinner menu and includes many respected whiskeys, which would, I suggest, be better listed in a section on their own rather than interspersed with the wines, which we thought to be on the pricey side.
The dinner menu is innovative and comprehensive, with starters, one I recall being “Wet Biltong and Gorgonzola Salad”, costing around US$10 and main courses such as Rack of Lamb US$20, though there are cheaper alternatives.
All dishes’ ingredients are mouth-wateringly described which is a great help to the discerning diner (and the inexperienced waiters).
But I was there for lunch so concentrated on that menu, which in contrast was restricted, but had equally interesting and less expensive options.
I had watched with fascination as a selection of exotic and imaginative salads were placed on the bar counter and learnt from the menu that this was the Antipasti Selection (US$10) which also included breads and cheeses.
The menu also offered a selection of about seven main courses, all reasonably priced at US$14, and four desserts, rather expensive at US$7.
We opted to share a plate for starters and were not disappointed. For the main course my companion chose “Herb Crusted Tilapia Fillets with Coconut Sauce” and I, “Rump Steak stuffed with Red Onion Marmalade and Sautéed Mushrooms served with Madagascar Pepper Sauce”.
These delectable sounding descriptions helped build our culinary anticipation, but the meals themselves did not fit them.
Although pleasant, the Tilapia had very little herb content in its crust, while the Rump was very well-done, rather than the “medium” requested, with minimal stuffing, and was disappointingly tough and dry.
There was a definite Italian influence on the menu at Butlers.
As well as the “Antipasti”, one of the desserts was the Italian classic Panna Cotta (silky smooth cooked cream) which alas was also not up to scratch.
Although our filter coffee was incorrectly served before our desserts it was excellent, so good I would like to get some for home consumption, though our waiter was not sure of its origins.
Butlers is newly opened and deserves credit for opening itself up to scrutiny so early in its existence. It shows potential, but is relatively pricey.
There is much trade competition in this suburban shopping centre, thus it will need to work hard to ensure that culinary offerings meet the expectations created both of a restaurant entered in this up-market category, and by the imaginative dishes described on the menu.
Deluxe Family Restaurant
Expect to spend US$20 to US$50
Newlands Shopping Centre,