Getting Primal (Eatery)

Primal Eatery

I’m in a very privileged position that I know many restaurant owners. So, with dozens of spots around town, I can walk in and say hi. That is, if the owner is actually there, which is rare to begin with, especially in larger establishments. It is even more rare to have owners who give that attention to everyone they’re not on a first-name basis with – and who make a point of being in their restaurant meeting and greeting every single day. But that’s exactly what you’ll find at Primal Eatery.

Now, I had heard of Primal Eatery before. I had walked in once or twice before for cocktails and a tequila launch (my beloved Fortaleza), but have never sat down to eat. I’d been in touch with the owners for a weeks though, and recently – FINALLY – had the chance to come dine with them. They’re only open in the evenings, and they really focus on being a small and intimate spot … which basically translates into me saying that it was really dark and my pictures aren’t world-class. Put in a different way, Primal Eatery’s ambiance is every blogger’s worst nightmare – and every diner’s version of heaven. If I’m choosing a spot to go for a good night out – perhaps even a romantic night out – then this would be it. But apology for picture quality aside, let’s get started.

The Primal Vibe

Primal Eatery has been around for just over a year, with a nice bar and lounge area in the back and a small section with tables in the front. Both inside and outside seating is available, which is great for the sadly-already-behind-us summer days. There are only a handful of tables – which is all part of the plan. See, owners Brynn and Kristina focus on individualised attention. And Brynn will go introduce himself to every table, do a round of tequila shots with them, and “make friends”. The mission is to create first-name-basis customers, customers who come back again and again. Judging from the atmosphere on the evening I went, this is definitely a dream in fruition, and everyone in the restaurant seemed super merry.

Primal Eatery outside seating

Outside seating

Primal Eatery seating

Inside seating

I wish I had gotten more video footage to share the vibe with – it really was quite something. They also have a DJ in the corner spitting out great tunes so there’s definitely quite a lively energy in the restaurant – but not to the extreme. I often find restaurants that want to offer live entertainment or great music get the balance very wrong, and I certainly don’t want to go for dinner and not be able to have a decent conversation with my dinner partner. Primal Eatery gets this balance just right, creating a vibe while still creating a space where a decent conversation can be maintained.

Welcome To Bread And Cocktails

Their menu is quite small, which I’ve come to prefer at most restaurants. 99% of the time it means the restaurant really knows what they’re doing. And Chef Warren at Primal Eatery definitely knows what he’s doing! Every dish was divine. As an overall, Primal Eatery focuses on meat cuts and char-grilled – from beef to octopus to broccoli! There’s also a slight Greek influence, and you’ll find some pita and Greek lamb on the menu as well. The table bread introduces this influence, and you’ll be greeted by a few slices of sour dough and pita bread, together with a few Greek-style dips.

Primal Eatery also has a wicked cocktail menu. We had the French 75 (R60; Tanqueray, lime & lemon verbana cordial topped with bubbles) and the Twisted Cosmo (R75; citrus-infused Ketel One Vodka shaken with Cointreau, fresh lime, and pomegranate). The twisted part of the cosmo basically refers to the fact that it’s deconstructed and you get to mix it all together – which is pretty fun. And delicious, of course.

Primal Eatery deconstructed cocktails

(Deconstructed) cocktails

Primal Eatery cocktails

(Constructed) Cocktails

Flaming Cheese, Charred Octopus, and Avocado Tostadas

For starters, we had the Charred Kalk Bay Octopus (R105; served with heirloom tomatoes, avgolemono, preserved lemon, and chipotle), the Flaming Saganika (R75; kefalotiri cheese flambéed with brandy and served with fire-toasted pita), and the Avocado Tostada (R80; smoked tomatoes, textures of feta and coriander).Three superbly different dishes with such individual flavours and textures.

The Flaming Saganika came out first – and what a show that was. They literally set the cheese on fire, creating a wonderful little show every time it gets brought out. And it got brought out dozens of times that evening! This is definitely one of their top-sellers and Sabine’s favourite, though I couldn’t have more than a bite or two before it got too ‘cheesy’. I can’t handle cheeses with too strong a flavour. While I wouldn’t put this one up there with the Blue Cheeses of the world (sorry blue cheese, I mean no offence), it just had that particular flavour I can’t describe that I’m not a fan of. Cheese lovers will have no idea what I mean – go ahead and order this. People with finicky cheese tastes will know exactly what I mean – for you, I’d say still try it, but order it as a shared starter.

With the octopus, the flavour profiles were slightly reversed. Sabine found this one much too seafoody for her, while I absolutely loved it! Again, if you’re not a fan of strong seafood flavours, stay away from this one. But if you’re a seafood gal (or guy), this baby’s gonna rock your world! I can’t remember ever having had charred octopus before, which is such a pity as the flavour is literally next-level divine. The octopus is sous vide for a few hours – making it delicately soft – and then thrown on the grill for that perfect taste. It’s not a big portion, but definitely perfect in every bite.

The Avocado Tostada was an unusual one – and one both Sabine and I enjoyed. I had imagined it to be more carby than it was. It actually turned out to be the most refreshing dish of them all. Full of intensely fresh flavours, this dish tasted like any good healthy meal should. This would be my recommendation for anyone who shies away from strong flavours, and anyone looking for a bit more greens in their starters. Definitely very yum.

Primal Eatery flaming saganaki

Flaming Saganaki

Primal Eatery charred octopus

Don’t look like much but super yum: Charred Octopus

Primal Eatery avocado tostada

Avocado tostada

Getting Primal: The Steaks

And then came the mains. Primal Eatery has numerous mains available – lamb shoulder, pork belly, and line fish, to name but a few. But their main attraction is the Butcher’s Cuts section. They don’t list every cut they have on the menu as this literally changes all the time. While we were tempted to try one cut and one of the other mains, we eventually decided to both go for the cuts. I mean, after all, this is what has put Primal Eatery on the map.

Sabine went for the Rib-eye (R230) with the Primal Butter (R30) and a side of roasted sweet potatoes. I went for the fillet (R220) with the Mushroom and Bone Marrow Sauce (R35) and a side of tenderstem broccoli. All cuts come with one side (and you can choose from a wide selection), and are also served with textures of onion and truffle mustard.

Wow. What a meal. At first bite I was a bit worried as my medium steak seemed a little too on the dry and well-done side, but this was literally just the first bite – every bite after that was pure heaven. The Mushroom and Bone Marrow sauce was divine, and the charred broccoli literally one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Sabine’s steak was just as good, with her Primal Butter and roasted sweet potato definitely matching my sauce and side.

Primal Eatery steak

From charred broccoli to gorgeous steak to sauces, butter, and sweet potatoes

Primal Eatery steak

The Feast

Dessert And Dulce Le Leche Heaven

And then came dessert. To be honest, we weren’t really keen on dessert after all that food, but the table next to us had ordered the Roasted Naartije Cheesecake (R85), which looked beyond divine. So we just had to have a look at the desserts. Sabine quickly decided on the Lemon Curd Parfait (R80; burnt lemon, passion fruit tapioca, black sesame, and coconut sorbet), which she described as the best lemony dessert she’s ever had. I went for the Deep Fried Oreos (R80). I know these are literally death to anyone trying to be healthy, but I have fond memories of this when I lived in the US, so just had to give them a try. Plus, I only know one other place in Cape Town that does these (Hudsons), so on the originality scale these had to be had. They come served with braaied marshmallow ice cream, peanut butter, and strawberry jelly.

Given my dislike of peanut butter I had asked to have it without and ordered a side of dulce le leche instead. By now all my regular readers will know that dulce le leche is literally my Kryptonite – I am intensely obsessed with it! Mixed together with the strawberry jelly, it made the perfect dip for my deep fried oreos. But for any regular non-peanut-disliking person, the peanut butter will be just as perfect. Perhaps even better as it’s more intense in flavour and less intense in sweetness, balancing out the dessert as a whole. Needless to say though, I loved this dessert.

Primal Eatery dessert

Deep Fried Oreos and Lemon Curd Parfait

Gosh, I loved the whole evening. I can try and be literary and come up with a gazillion better-sounding synonyms, but I was always told my academic geekiness makes for difficult reading … so I try to stick to colloquial language as much as I can. And, honestly, there’s no better word than love. The food, the atmosphere, the kindness of the staff (the service was exceptional), everything about Primal Eatery was beyond wonderful. And it wasn’t just wonderful in a fancy kind of way – there was nothing stiff about this. There were laughs and jokes and tons of sarcasm, which is right up my alley. I definitely left a happy girl, and would be back in a heartbeat.

Try It Yourself

You’re gonna have to try Primal Eatery yourself to see what this marvel is all about. You’ll find them at 50 New Church Street in Gardens (near the Fire & Ice Hotel). They’re open Tuesday – Saturday from 18:00 till midnight. For more information, check out their official website here or visit them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Since seating is limited, booking is highly recommended. You can book online or give them a call on +27 21 422 3232 .

Written by Benike Palfi

Article Date: May 2018