THE Western Capers don’t play around. They either give it to you or they don’t. For example, on May 7 they voted for Helen Zille to get on with the job of being premier of the province. Then they let her get on with it. Yes, sure, every so often you get an Andile Lili, who arrives with a bucket or two of the brown stuff and spreads it on the steps of the provincial legislature. Otherwise, though, the Western Capers really do let the person they voted for get on with the job. Unlike Gautengers, they are not into managing the heck out of people they voted for. They know their power. They know that they can choose to punish you when the time comes. Remember that first the National Party, then the ANC ran the province — now it is the DA.

Gauteng is different. We moan and judge every two minutes. No water or electricity? We burn tyres in the streets of Alexandra and Diepsloot. Every day there is a new crisis. Every day people want their leaders to sort something or other out.

Which is my roundabout way of saying something simple: in Gauteng every day is your big day whatever it is you do. In the Western Cape you are star for a week, then you rest on your laurels and enjoy the adulation without having to work, day in and day out, for the accolade.

La Parada Tapas Restaurant is one of the places that think they have arrived and therefore do not seem to feel the need to have to work, every day, to keep up their reputation.

You can’t blame it. On a Friday evening it was packed. You cannot book; you arrive at the door and beg for a table. I am told it is the same all weekend.

Why is it packed? The word went out that this was a great place for Spanish tapas. To be fair, there aren’t that many places in Joburg or Cape Town where you can find good, tasty, tapas (Spanish-inspired social eating whereby you order loads of different, small dishes), and so a hip and happening place like La Parada tends to rake in the accolades just by being there.

Yet life is not like that. You have to work to be applauded by some of us. La Parada is, unfortunately, lazy, uninspired, and coasting on the reputation it has garnered (I am not sure how or why) in the past. It needs to pull up its socks.

La Parada Tapas Restaurant is one of the places that think they have arrived and therefore do not seem to feel the need to have to work, every day, to keep up their reputation.

The much-heralded food is just not up to scratch. There are fifteen dishes on the tapas menu, and four (beef fillet, prawns, lamb and calamari) on the mains menu. We were a party of five — two Americans, three locals — and so we ordered virtually everything on the tapas menu.

I am a chorizo sausage fiend, so my lovely wife immediately asked if they had some fried chorizo to hand. They didn’t, but not to worry, they had the chickpeas and chorizo sausage tapa. I ordered two dishes, and I deeply regretted it. It was soggy, bland (chorizo is spicy and full of character) and swimming in water. It was terrible.

The rest was pretty much the same. The seafood paella was too dry and we suspected it had been sitting in a warmer for ages, the roasted peppers were unremarkable, the calamari tasted like it had gone through the dishwasher and the angry potatoes could have been prepared in a hospital kitchen.

La Parada is a very hip place. The people are fashionable (if not stylish), the place is vibey and it really attracts the trendy crowd. The décor is great. This is just not enough, though. Some of us turn up at these places for the food, and on that score this Friday evening outing was an absolute disaster. La Parada really needs to work on the food, or just shut the restaurant down and call itself a bar.

* * ½ La Parada Tapas Restaurant

107 Bree Street

Cape Town

Tel: (021) 426-0330

* * * * * Thuli Madonsela

* * * * Good

* * * Poor

* * Kebby Maphatsoe

* Nkandla

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