Oppie Dorp – Why the fuss?

  • Good for: Sitting outside, Steak, Pizza
  • Cost: R200-250/pp
  • Rating: 2-2.5/5
  • Contact Details: 137 Dorp Street, +27 (0) 21 883 3889

Now, each time I either drive or walk past Oppie Dorp the place is absolutely packed. Reading the Tripadvisor reviews everybody raves about the place, so it seems obvious why it is always so busy. Last week I decided to beat the rush and book well in advance so I could try out the Oppie Dorp experience for myself. I went into the restaurant to book a table for 6 and duly watched the waiter write our booking down for Friday night – boy was I looking forward to this – I could hardly wait for Friday to arrive!

Friday morning arrived and the restaurant called to let me know that there was a ‘problem’ with the booking and that whoever took the booking wrote it down for Thursday instead of Friday. Hmmm, I was a bit confused by this because I watched the waiter write the booking down, plus, if the booking was for Thursday night and we didn’t show up, why didn’t they call to find out whether we were still coming or not on Thursday night!? The caller assured me this was not a problem though as they could still accommodate us, but not outside as requested. Upon my response that I’d have to cancel in that case, he very quickly assured me that ‘they would be able to make a plan’!!! If I was a cynical person I would hypothesise that maybe they had some regulars who wanted a table at short notice and decided to try and move us inside or something fanciful like that!

Not off to the best start, we arrived at the restaurant and took our table outside as booked. Oppie Dorp is a fairly small venue and sitting outside on a stiflingly hot Stellenbosch evening is a must. Service was good and after a detailed explanation of all the specials not on the standard menu we were ready to order.

For starters we had Seafood Trio, Pork Belly and Duck Breast. The Pork Belly is something that Oppie Dorp gets very good reviews on, but when it arrived it was less than impressive looking, though it tasted good. The Seafood Trios contained, shrimp in avo, mussels and smoked salmon pate (I think). It arrived looking pretty impressive and was a good sized started with nice enough seafood though nothing massively special. The duck breast was cooked, by which I mean it was served cooked through rather than the way we expected it to be, which is pink in the middle.

For mains we had Sirloin Steak, Rump Steak, Norwegian Salmon, Lamb Shoulder and a Pizza – yes, someone had to try the pizza! The steaks were perfectly fine though nobody was particularly ecstatic about it. The salmon was also served cooked through and no hint of the pink that was promised repeatedly remained – why go to a lengthy explanation of the dish and checking whether raw salmon would be ok, only to serve it cooked the complete opposite of what you sold it as? The Lamb Shoulder was HUUUUGE and I couldn’t eat most of it, and it was again, very nice. Nothing to go back for mind you, but the sort of solid cooking that restaurants should be able to do. The pizza was without a doubt the hit of the night, which says a lot for the rest of the main courses!

We decided we still had room for desert, and ordered a cheesecake (I think Amarula and something – I really should start making notes!) and a chocolate brownie. Where the pizza was the hit of the night, the chocolate brownie was the absolute worst dish of the night. If you’re imagining a chocolate brownie to be chocolaty, moist and almost gooey this was as far removed from that as a British winter from a South African summer. The brownie was inedible and in retrospect we should have sent it back – it was a mess of sticky, hard….something; I’m not even sure what to call it.

We left Oppie Dorp flummoxed as to why it is so popular. While it wasn’t a bad meal, it was a meal full of undelivered promise, with good concepts not executed particularly successfully. Full marks for trying to create interesting and different food, but for us it didn’t deliver. The best meals of the night were steak and pizza, which can be found in abundance at plenty of other establishments in the town and as such Oppie Dorp isn’t somewhere I would rush back.

Ambience – 4/5

Service – 4/5

Food – 3/5

Value – 2/5

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4 thoughts on “Oppie Dorp – Why the fuss?

  1. The problem with giving star ratings like this (as with wines) is that the reader ends up comparing the numbers of stars between the different restaurants while not looking any deeper. Your recent review of Jimmy the Fish shows that it has a higher average star rating than Oppie Dorp and, to the general reader, this would/could influence them into either going to or not going to either of the establishments. This is a pity as the two are very different in their approaches and, while one might be more successful in its carrying out of its mission, the other might, in fact, offer a totally different standard. Basically, a Ferrari is a very good car, but it is a terrible 4×4 – the two can not simply be judged as individual vehicles and give star ratings as-is.

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    1. I totally agree Guy, and this is something I was thinking about this morning when I posted the stars for Jimmy the Fish, and something I haven’t found a way round yet. I need to come up with a way to categorise the restaurants properly so that readers can compare within categories – that may help a little bit? The platform I’m using (WordPress) is quite restrictive in what it can do unless you pay for the ‘All singing, all dancing’ version so will have to decide what to do going forward. I suppose some other way could be to go into the quality of produce used, i.e. are they using organic, locally produced products vs mass produced, cheaper ingredients, but I’m afraid at this stage that probably takes a level of research that I’m not quite wanting to spend my time on – unless it starts paying for the bills!

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