Thursday, June 30, 2016
The Harbor House Restaurant, Cape Town, South Africa: Was it "A Taste of Apartheid."
Three of us went shopping and eating dinner last night at the fashionable Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. We were a tall African American woman, a not as tall Puerto Rican Latina who was a Navy veteran, and myself, an olive skinned Caucasian. We were obviously casually but appropriately attired tourists with bags of swag. There was nothing grungy or mangy about us. The Harbor House Restaurant was recommended to us. It proclaims itself to be the oldest restaurant on the waterfront, which it literally adjoins. It features seafood. It has a main level and a smaller lower level closest to the water. We entered the Harbor House. Only one table was occupied. The hostess asked us first if we had reservations. Only one table was occupied at the time. We said no. She then asked if we wanted to sit on the lower level. Our response was: “Is it warm?” Cape Town gets very chilly during winter. The answer was “Yes,” so we assented. As we sat down, we realized it wasn’t so warm. We also noticed that the lower deck was out of sight of the main deck. Hmm! We started thinking. Then they sat a young African couple at a nearby table, followed by three young, casually dressed tourists on the other side, topped off by a group of six Asians at the far table. The main level was still mostly empty. It quickly became obvious what was happening. We were on the poop deck reserved for the less desirables. We interfered with the ambience of the main level. We noticed when we left that the main level was still ¼ empty, but the patrons were all in their 40’s and 50’s nicely dressed. It was clear that our money was desirable, but not our presence. The thought that came almost simultaneously was “A Touch of Apartheid.” What about the food? It was OK – nothing spectacular. It was Ok for the price. Almost everything is OK for the price in Cape Town with a 15:1 rate of exchange with the South African Rand to the American dollar. My bill was bout 260 Rand with the value added tax and tip, in other words about $17.50. I don’t do seafood, so I ordered the prime cut of beef. It tasted fine, but I have no idea what the goop was on the beef on the poop deck. The waiter impressed us with his memory of United States capitols, although he mixed up North and South Dakota – an easy mistake to make. That was the high point of the meal.