South African in Charlottesville
We started with the spicy peri-peri wings and a "Stellenbosch sampler," which displayed the Indian and Indonesian influence on the cuisine of the Cape region. It consisted of chicken satay, samosas and fried eggplant, served with banana ketchup.
My main course far exceeded my expectations. I ordered sosatie, described as "a delightful dish of cubed leg of lamb, skewered on sugar cane with dried apricots and marinated for at least twenty-four hours in mango chutney, tamarind & turmeric, grilled and served with samp and beans, yellow rice, mango chutney and a cucumber-mint yogurt." I was concerned that it might be too sweet, but there really was just a touch of sweetness to the meat, and the lamb was really excellent. Samp and beans, a typical Xhosa dish, is a cracked hominy and bean combo that reminded me of cachupa, the hominy and beans dish I had at Cesaria's, a Cape Verdean restaurant in Boston. The Shebeen was all out of rice that night (how's that possible?), so instead I substituted mealie pap: hominy grits with cheese. This humble starch, a staple of the Bantu diet, was absolutely delicious.
The Shebeen doubles as a sports bar, which is perhaps why, as a public service, they hang the day's sports page above the urinals in the men's room.