Parea, Illovo – Restaurant Review – Monday 5th December 2012

A service shocker…..

After months of phone calls, a friend eventually managed to secure us a table at this popular Greek Taverna restaurant.  A large group gathered, looking forward to an evening of authentic Greek food and pre-Christmas catch up. 

Parea is modeled on a traditional Greek taverna.  The interior is simple and unassuming, with a few touches of Greko-South African interior décor and an impressive grapevine creeping the exterior.  It has a following in Johannesburg, known for festive dinners, ouzo shots and of course the Friday night belly dancers.

We sat down to a few glasses of wine, selected from the wide range on offer, and considered the menu.  It is typically Greek, featuring the likes of veg and meat meze, a wide selection of dips, authentic main courses, salads and desserts.  Amongst our favourite starters was the selection of 6 dips served with warm pita bread.  These were full of flavor, and the portions were generous.  When it came to mains, the quality of the food varied greatly.  Most disappointing was the dried-up lamb souvlakia, which was a bit like eating cardboard.  I had the deep fried calamari, which was average, nothing to write home about.  Another diner had the T-Bone, which was very disappointing as it “turned out to be a Sirloin with a big bone in it” – no sign of the fillet portion of the cut.  By far the most appetizing main course was the slow-braised lamb shank with mashed potatoes.  It was delectable, the meat really soft, falling off the bone.  Fortunately the portions were huge, and those who ordered it were kind enough to share theirs with the poor dears who ordered souvlakia.

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The haloumi salad

According to their menu, the word “Parea” is generally thought to refer to a “group of people who derive great pleasure simply being together.”  This may be true of the diners, but it does not appear to be the case with the waitering staff.  We were all dismayed by the disinterested, bolshy service.  So much so, that I have asked some of my dining companions to give me their views of the meal:

Chris says: “I am still waiting for my rice”

Jess says: “Service in terms of drinks and serving was good – all the drinks and food came out together and within a reasonable time frame. Having the manager greet people as they arrived was nice, but in terms of the waitering staff, they let themselves down. Our waitress lacked basic etiquette – she was disinterested and unfriendly from the onset and it seemed to get worse as the evening progressed: banging glasses and dishes down in front of people in a “drop and run” attitude, questions were answered abruptly and in as few words as possible, reaching across people whilst they are trying to have a conversation and forcing them to move out of the way to avoid being hit in the face and just generally acting as if serving us was asking a bit much of her. Perhaps she was having a bad night, but overall the service wasn’t very pleasant”

Claire says:  “The lamb was amazing, the service was appalling, so sadly my overall experience was average”

Victoria says: “The Calamari was good, service terrible but the vibe was good”

I suppose it is important to remember that Parea is not a fine dining restaurant, so one cannot expect too much from the service.  However, a good measure of public-spiritedness is a job requirement for waiting staff.  And the staff at Parea just did not deliver.  The service tainted our evening, leaving us feeling dissatisfied and irritable, ready to smash plates!

If you want to try Parea, it probably best to go on a weekend night.  Though I can’t vouch for the service, the ouzo will hopefully lend a beneficial rose-tint to the experience, and you may have a better time than we did.

The meal was reasonably priced, with starters, mains and a few glasses of wine costing about R 200.00 per person.  We were not inclined to leave a tip.

You can contact Parea on 00 (27) 11 788 8777.

This review has been sent to the restaurant on 9th January 2013.

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