With the opening of Blind Tiger Café Parkview's village-like high street finally has a hangout spot that doesn't close by sunset. And with owner Roman Slepica at the bar it didn't take more than a few weeks for Blind Tiger to cultivate regulars, attracted by tasty food, a superb drinks menu and a bar where it's likely they'll remember your name for next time.
Slepica is a veteran bar and restaurant owner, whose good looks give no hint of his 'veteran' status (then again, South Africans and Zimbabweans have long become accustomed to "war veterans" barely out of school laying claim to hard-won experience in the trenches, but that's another story entirely).
Slepica is the real deal. A Parkview resident, he also owns the fabulous Lenin's Vodka Bar in Maboneng renowned for its frozen vodkas and innovative cocktails. As the Berlin Wall became a memory he ran a popular bar in Prague, and during the dot com boom, and then bust, a bar and cafe in a hip district of San Francisco. He also previously owned two of Melville's popular nightspots Rat'z Bar and Buzz 9 Cafe, which he then sold.
The name Blind Tiger conjures a speakeasy, and while the Prohibition-era may be long gone, that glamorous and crazy 1920s have found their way onto the drinks menu, where homage is paid to Fitzgerald's age-defining novel The Great Gatsby, and other American legends like Ms [Dorothy] Parker. We suspect Slepica's gorgeous Californian-born wife, a journalist and editor, may have had a hand in ensuring the bar has plenty of literary credentials but this is still to be confirmed.
In the best bar tradition, The Blind Tiger is also a dining destination in its own right. The menu is a Californian-inspired Asian/Mexican/American fusion with some classic French touches, thoroughly unfussy and generously portioned. The black bean quesadillas, superbly spicy and moreish chicken wings, crumbled calamari, crispy French fries and gloriously smokey Californian-style chorizo and refried bean dip are perfect for a bar snack to share.
Meanwhile for mains we particularly enjoyed the grilled Norweigian salmon with a white wine and mustard and caper sauce, elegantly presented and flawlessly executed. Red meat lovers should try the beautifully plated 'topless burger', a juicy medium rare beef patty topped with blue cheese and caramelised onions, served on a bed of rocket, or the classic French fillet medallions with a red wine onion sauce, already a firm favourite with the regulars.
An inviting space, the cosy bar and restaurant with its warm maroon walls and well-lit and stocked bar gives little hint of the large seating area you'll find through the passageway, perfect for big table dinners and private parties. In summer the garden tucked away out back is a hit.