columnBy Dusty Miller
THIS week I'll tell you - again!-about what sounded another real bargain special offer three-course lunch, which I didn't order!
360o in the increasingly bustling new bit of Borrowdale Village has daily mouthwatering special bargains, but the Sunday offer sounded great value for money.
For (if I write "just" it will seriously annoy some dedicated readers who, in the autumn of their years live in sadly reduced circumstances) US$15 you can choose between starters of Portuguese-style chicken giblets, slow-braised in piri-piri sauce and served with toasted garlic bread, or crumbed deep-fried Camembert cheese with cranberry sauce and fresh rocket.
Main courses comprise dry-aged sirloin steak (all 360os beef is hung a month) with seasonal vegetables, home-made French fries and crispy onion rings; or honey-and-thyme roasted chicken, slow baked then grill-finished, with chips and Portuguese salad; or open vegetable lasagna of roast butternut, mushroom ragout, creamed spinach, Parmesan cheese and home-made tomato sauce finished with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Sweets are dark chocolate fudge brownies and home-made peanut butter ice-cream or sticky date pudding with rich caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream.
I think that excellent value, but, of course, if you don't know where your next fifteen bucks are coming from, that's rather problematic.
The elderly ladies who e-mail me frequently complaining that my idea of what comprises "reasonable" doesn't quite gel with theirs (especially when the pensiono's late!) should bear in mind 360o's weekday lunch-time only specials:
All steaks (sirloin, T-bone or fillet) or six grilled queen prawns are US$12; fish and chips, gourmet burger or steak sandwich US$10 and four ladies eating at the same table are charged for three.
Price slashing certainly seem to have paid dividends as every seat, outdoors on a raised deck under umbrellas protecting diners from the hot sun and an incipient threat of a heavy downpour, was taken (some more than once.) The opulent indoor eating area was also pumping and one or two guests sat in the bar enjoying a quiet drink in civilised company and surroundings.
Moira Milner, formerly running Sables Motor Club, who I first met when judging a cookery competition she entered at Cranleigh Park Club, is the new meeter-greeter and-seater and her work was cut out.
My starter was an elegant presentation of four plump, pink, peeled prawns, butter-and-coconut poached on avocado tian with home-made tomato jam and chili, coriander and cashew nut pesto. It was lip-smackingly good and attractively priced at US$7. I did think a spoon or (and preferably) a hunk or two of good crusty bread, to mop up all the sauces, were the only possible improvements.
At the same price were Falklands Islands baby calamari tubes with chili, garlic and parsley butter and a garlic crostini. The 360o owner, Karl Eckhard, also runs his own fish importing company, so I suppose the squid's provenance isn't in doubt. It seems an awful long way to bring seafood when it's available 1 000km away in Mozambique, but hell...let's support the brave, stalwart Kelpers (Falkland Islands residents.)
Other appetisers included crumbed calamari and Portuguese giblets already described under "specials" at US$7 and US$5 each, Chinese-style chicken wings (US$5) and springbok carpaccio or oxtail tortellini (wrapped in pasta) US$6 each.
This restaurant is renowned for excellent export quality Zimbabwean grass-fed beef steaks: sirloin (330g) US$16, 400g T-bone US$20, fillet mignon (220g) US$19 and venison at US$25 but, sadly, red meat and I don't often agree with each other nowadays.
So it was down to the fish section in the attractive leather padded embossed and easy to follow menu.
In descending cost order, Scottish salmon on parsley new potatoes with Dijonaise dressing, broccoli and lemon-and-caper butter was US$25; grilled queen prawns on steamed basmati rice or chips with either Mauritian coconut and chili sauce or Chermoula sauce from North Africa -- 360o really offers fusion-not confusion-food; or grilled kingklip with creamy mash, mussels, garlic and white wine cream sauce and Spanish chorizo were both US$22.
But it was the humble fish and chips (two fillets of delicious beer-battered opalescent flaky hake with golden chips, minted peas (they could have used a bit more mint!) and home-made tartare sauce at "just" (sorry girls) US$15 which leaped from the page at me. The dish was as good as anything I ate in Australia over Christmas and about two-thirds of its cost in most Greater Adelaide outlets.
Sorely tempted by thoughts of the wonderful sounding sticky date pudding, I decided it would probably be too rich, filling and heavy for lunch, so I went for pino colado sorbet with yoghurt panna cotta, mint coulis and fruit salad.
All puddings were US$7; this was probably worth every cent of that for refreshing zinginess and palate-cleansing properties.
360o, Shops 17-20 (that's one stack of overheads!), New Block Borrowdale Village. Tel 853314/5 or Karl on 0772-279-051. Open lunch daily; supper Monday to Saturday. Eating indoors or out. Smoking/non-smoking. Great cocktail bar. Fully licensed, corkage US$5 wine and US$8 champagne-types. Secure parking. Child/handicapped friendly.