Indulge your senses at Pollsmoor Restaurant

by Chanté Classen

Terrified, yet so enthralled, I dragged myself into the doors of the infamous, Pollsmoor Prison. My boyfriend and best friend were over-the-moon as we were en route to the restaurant (they get a thrill – and I mean, enthusiastic thrill – out of things which scare the ordinary. Which is me…). I felt like the little girl sitting in the car, gazing out of the window, hoping never to return to her destination… because of the fear of the unknown.

Inside Pollsmoor Restaurant

To my surprise, it was everything I had not expected. Okay, beside the ambiance. It was as low-key as one would expect it to be – normal cafeteria type look and feel. But still a great experience!

Pollsmoor Maximum Prison is home to some of South Africa’s most dangerous criminals and on the same premises, is the Pollsmoor Restaurant called ‘Idlanathi’ which means ‘eat with us’. The food is cooked, prepared and served by the inmates who are sentenced for much lighter offences.


The Pollsmoor Restaurant experience

In my mind’s eye, I had pictured to be served by tattoo-printed faces, cold-staring eyes and orange-jumpsuit bodies. To my dismay, we were served by the complete opposite image. Our waiter had the most decent looking face with eyes which allowed one to see his gentle soul filled with lessons learned by his mistakes, with manners and professionalism which encompassed an individual so well sought-after. I was a bit disappointed that he was not wearing the orange jumpsuit though – I thought it would have added to the experience of dining at a Prison, but I surmise that the wardens would not want to scare away the customers in any way. The waiter was clothed in the ‘school-boy’ attire – shoes, grey pants and white shirt. Therefore, he doesn’t immediately appear to be an inmate but we all know that he is, so if you are feeling brave, ask him what he is in for. We did!

Pocket Friendly

Apart from the fact that one has to drive about 25 kilometers from Cape Town to the restaurant – not ‘fuel friendly’ – Idlanathi is surely ‘pocket friendly’. It is probably the cheapest restaurant in Town! On my first visit, Vee (the Bestie) and I had the Full House Steak sandwich – R12!! Like, HOW THOUGH?? It was the cleanest, freshest and tastiest sandwich I have ever had! (be shocked, I was too lol!).  Nate (the Boyf) had a quarter chicken and steak with chips – R40!! Thereafter, if we did not feel for the norm, then we (Nate and I) would take out our friends and family and always say “it’s on us” lol!

On our second visit, there were 4 of us who had main meals and the bill came to a shocking R160 including drinks! So if you ever want to feel like a foreigner with a stronger currency in your hometown, go dine at the Pollsmoor Restaurant! The food is extremely tasty and filling. So after filling those bellies, a lovely, slow drive around Chapman’s Peak is indispensable.

PS. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences (if you have visited the restaurant) in the comment section below. 🙂


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