By Tracy Gielink
With its fresh flavours and decor, Quo has quietly entrenched itself in the hearts of the Gillitts locals.
Physical Address: Gillitts Shopping Centre, corners York and Clifton Roads, Gillitts, KwaZulu-Natal.
Call 082 320 7906. Open Tuesday to Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Open Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast ranges from R22 to R49; light meals and starters from R39 to R69; main courses start at R62 and run to R140; and desserts cost between R25 and R35.
Quo is uncluttered and uncomplicated – the decor is understated and the unpretentious menu is fresh and flavourful. It is tucked away in a quiet suburban centre in Gillitts (near Hillcrest) and owner Jonathan Jones still attracts loyal clients who supported Nourish Café in Westville in the four years he owned it.
Selling the business and a restraint of trade saw him move further inland … a move that excited locals in an area sparsely populated with eateries, and the restaurant has been full every night since opening in July last year. “It was time to reinvent myself but it is still the same ethos of creating a local café in a residential area. It is all new recipes – I even cut the cucumber differently,” he laughs. The airy interior relies on clean lines and a simple colour palette. Beachwood tables are teamed with curvy black plastic chairs and a feature is the mint-hued wall adorned with orchids dramatically suspended in mid-air. Symmetrical rows of white pendant lighting complete the contemporary look.
The dishes are basic continental or they have an Asian influence, such as the Parma ham, rocket and cherry tomato salad with Parmesan shavings, and mussels with an Asian chilli sauce with sake, ginger and garlic. His love of seafood and the Orient is evident in the prawn ‘pot’, which sees the prawns sautéed in butter, lemon and garlic then teamed with a mirin dipping sauce or wasabi and ginger prawns served with steamed vegetables and noodles. Pastas include the understated chorizo and calamari, while lighter summer eating lends itself to spiced Thai chicken baguette with pineapple, ginger and coriander, or a salmon and dill pâté accompanied by melba toast or a meze dish of sausages, feta, Camembert and blue cheese served with honeyglazed onions, piquanté peppers, olives, salad and baguette.
Jonathan is fixated with freshness – he gets all his organic herbs and vegetables from the local monastery and no microwaves are used in the kitchen. The service is charming, friendly and colloquial.