Father’s Day dates back to the middle ages and was originally observed as the feast day of Saint Joseph.
I don’t have a Joseph, but I do love a good feast. My dad suggested that we enjoy Father’s Day Sunday lunch at our local Hillcrest Olive & Oil for the special day of new socks and golf balls, so I called a week before and booked a table for 4.
I am early. Because, wine. With live music crooning at the restaurant entrance, I’m seated a little further inside, and ask for a glass of dry white as it is unusually hot for a winter day and I need hydrating and don’t judge. I’ve brought a bottle of sparkling wine from home as well, which I hand to the lovely manager to please place on ice. He graciously takes the bottle from me, smiles warmly, and slowly hops back to the kitchen with his leg brace and crutches. The colour drains from my face as I realise that I’ve just shoved booze at an invalid and made him wobble around for my selfish benefit.
My brother approaches shortly after, followed by my dad and his girlfriend. We hand over gifts and cards and Pops pretends to really love his rugby book. Our drinks arrive quickly, courtesy of our waitress Erin. Animated and relaxed and well versed in the restaurant specials and stock, Erin is soon back to take our meal order. And to uncork and pour the bubbly. Dad’s having an operation tomorrow and has to keep the alcohol to a minimum, so his girlfriend and I high 5 at more champers for us. My brother is obviously adopted because he doesn’t drink.
Bro orders his regular dish of cajun calamari with a peri peri sauce, and chips. It must be great because he has eaten it every other month for 3 years. I opt for a grilled 300g piece of kingklip, grilled cajun style with vegetables but because carbs are king, I ask for the most ridiculously teeny tiny little smattering of fries. Nicky is dainty and a lady and requests a starter portion of spicy fish cakes. They’re a popular plate with the family. My dad glances at the mention of a 600g whole fish (Red Roman) grilled the Mediterranean way with olive oil, lemon juice and origanum and served with his choice of sauce – lemon butter. He also goes with vegetables – spinach cooked within roasted butternut halves.
As it had been my birthday a few days previously, suddenly a box of perfume is presented to me and dad’s chick and I are spraying ourselves and the brother’s mouth is stuck like a cat’s bum and dad’s one eye is shut closed whilst we are spritzing a heavy mist that has the place smelling somewhat like a house of ill repute. The other tables are glaring, so we calm down just as Erin refills our champagne flutes, followed by two waiters ladened with beauty upon plates. Dad gives an audible gasp as his meal is placed before him. Yep, that’s an entire fish. Everyone else declares their seafood to be superb, with my usually grumpy patriarch stating that this is the best meal he has ever enjoyed at Olive & Oil. My kingklip is just as impressive, and is wonderfully cooked. With each flake falling, I’m so chuffed that I skipped breakfast. Nicky sneaks a few forkfuls of dad’s fish and beams at him. The vegetables are a traditional restaurant side, but prepared and presented cleverly. My brother klaps his tubes and sliced ’n fried spud and says it was, ‘epic.’
Far too full for the famed creme brûlée and with a little bubbly buzz between my ears, we pay the bill before parting. This restaurant is so intertwined with my family; my husband and I celebrated our engagement with our parents and siblings here, my mother used to love the place, and many birthdays have been spent upstairs in the heart of Hillcrest.