A lot has been said of late about the fact that four white guys decided to open up an African-inspired bar in Melville. So how should we feel about Mootee?
British-born owner Peter Good insists that they considered the vibe of the bar and the name from the perspective of a multitude of culture references including the African and Afrikaans entomology of the word, which represents healing. “Three of the other four owners are South African-born and raised and should they not be considered African?” he asks.
But should you choose to give the bar a chance and look past the one tribal mask and the occasional Paul Simon song, you will see that the space has been completely transformed since its Tokyo Star days, and no sign of the average Mexican that was there before remains. It is a beautifully considered space, designed to at once impress and to make guests feel comfortable — perfect date material.
Although Mootee is a bar first, the team also serves food that makes it a destination in its own right. Each dish on this tight menu, conceptualised by chef Blessing Chari pays homage to South African classics across cultures in a clever, modern way. What’s more, there are equal numbers of vegetarian and meat courses to choose from: no more shall the herbivores be relegated to a single side of carbs. Plus, it’s practically guilt free, as all the dishes, snacks, and drinks focus on sustainability.
The drinks are what you would expect from four internationally award-winning bartenders. The 12 main cocktails took six months to design and customers are encouraged to order in terms of size, strength, freshness, or feeling, with all the wonderment costing you the same R85, no matter the drink you are served. Most of trickery is cooked up in the lab to the left of the bar in the fancy distillers, ultrasound machines, and centrifuge.
This experiment brings results such as milk-tart vodka, which I can declare is not as awful as it sounds, and when used in the Mvulamlomo (mouth opener) cocktail it is very good indeed.
But the real question is: if you do not try or instagram the Mashonza (the signature Mopani worm cocktail) are you even truly there? It’s delicious, so come on: live a little.