Vovo Telo, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review – 18th September 2012

Telo me more…….

In terms of culinary sophistication, South Africa is slowly catching on to those trends which our European friends so delight in.  The shift away from the mass-produced and supermarket is plain to see.  The emergence and popularity of the artisan boulangerie bears testament to this pleasing development.

Vovo Telo is one such “bakery” (using the term rather loosely) combining the offerings of restaurant and traditional boulanger.  The name has always fascinated me – where does it come from and what does it mean?  Vovotelo is the name of a beach hotel in Ifaty, Madagascar.  It was here that the creative South Africans behind the brand were inspired by the fresh baguette sold off the back of a bike.  One review of the Vovotelo Hotel on the internet says it is “terrible, just terrible” – quite the opposite is true of the South African version.

A large group of us met for a chin-wag and quick dinner at Vovo Telo in Parkhurst a few weeks ago.  It is stylish yet so relaxed.  A huge table in the middle of the restaurant, stacked with all sorts of delicious breads and mouth-watering pastries, is the focal point.  Glancing through the space, you catch sight of the frenetic bakery in the background, abuzz with activity.  It’s great to see these guys turning out heaps of delicious freshly baked delights.  There is also an outside section – so inviting in the heat.

The wine list and menu at Vovo Telo are both carefully chosen, and offer a good range.  I love the Black Oystercatcher Rosé – served by the glass and a real steal.  It’s just a little bit better than your average, easy drinking rosé.  In summer I feel that I could happily drink a whole bottle.  A good range of reds, whites and MCCs are also available.  The menu is inspired by baking and fresh produce – most dishes have some baked element.  There is also a fab range of healthy and wholesome salads if you’re off the carbs.

At our table, the most popular order was the delicious pizza.  With super-thin, rectangular bases, they are light and crispy.  Topped with fantastic, fresh melty cheeses, meats, herbs and other offerings – you really can’t go wrong.

One of the fabulous pizzas

In my opinion you also can’t beat a good, homemade pasta.  I had the chicken pesto tagliatellini.  This simple dish plays up its main ingredient – the succulent fresh pasta – beautifully.  Tender, tasty chicken and concentrated basil pesto with a sprinkling of parmesan is really one of my favourites.  I have to temper my praise with my longstanding criticism – that I feel the pasta was a bit overcooked.  Always an oversight, all the more so when it is the freshest, hand-made pasta.  I think that if you order it, you should take care to specify how you would like it done.

Chicken pesto tagliatellini

Another friend had a lamb burger which he found a bit disappointing.  The patty was quite dry, but more worrying for a bakery was the poorly chosen bread.  Rather than a delicious, dense, round, white burger bun, a square focaccia was used.  This produced an unsatisfactorily high bread-to-meat ratio, drying the dish out still further and making it difficult to eat.  Such a pity as the rest of our food was really enjoyable.

I have been to Vovo Telo several times and I have never found the service problematic.  Many friends have had a less gratifying experience.  To me, the waiters always seem friendly and sweet.  Perhaps not completely familiar with the menu, but it really is self-explanatory enough.  You might have to be a bit patient, but that’s fine within reason.  Spend the time enjoying the wine and catching up with friends rather than fretting about the service.

This is hand-crafted food, made with love, requiring of time.  It’s not fast food, it’s not supermarket.  It is fresh and wholesome.  Good for the soul and for the gaiety of the nation.

1 salad, 1 lamb burger, 1 pasta, 3 pizzas, 11 glasses of wine came to just under R 1000.00 including tip.

You can contact Vovo Telo on + 27 (0) 11 447 5939

This review was sent to the restaurant on 9th October 2012

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