Restaurant Review: Baran’s Kurdish Restaurant and Shisha Lounge, Green Market Square

Baran’s Kurdish Restaurant and Shisha Lounge

Tucked away on the corner of Burg and Short Market Street is the exotic and vibrantly colourful Baran’s.

Named after its friendly and seemingly conversational owner, Baran’s offers visitors an interesting blend of popular, normal meals (breakfasts, seafood, salads and the like), as well as the more fascinating and rarer still Mediterranean-style Kurdish cuisine.

(You have a choice between ‘sit down and dine’ meals or alternatively, takeaways – home delivery is also apparently an option)

They have comfy indoor and outdoor seating – cushioned couches and chairs inside and equally comfy plastic, colourful chairs outside – and sturdy, unfussy tables.

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From the outside, the exterior doesn’t look too different from the cafes and restaurants found in the bustling St George’s and versatile Green Market Square found in Cape Town’s busy CBD but once you step inside – especially in the sections just above or off from the bar/main counter, you feel as if you have stepped into some little Moroccan or Turkish place – and rightly so, given that it is a Kurdish restaurant.

The walls are covered with bronze and copper urns, pots and the like, as well as framed photos and scenic landscape scenes, with the occasional rug hanging here and there. Personally, I love it.

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The only thing you might need to watch out for (though it’s pretty cool all the same) is the staircase, which is quite narrow and steep to navigate up and down.

Although the restaurant is Halaal, it does have a bar and serves alcohol. (They have a pretty wide selection of wines, beers, appertifs, shots and some of mainstream and more unusual cocktails, as well as a variety of non-alcoholic hot and cold beverages)

Please note: there are also specific smoking and non-smoking sections. Naturally, you may sit outside on the cobbled streets just off from the main Green Market Square and smoke there, but when it comes to the lovely upstairs terrace, despite its being outside, smoking is strictly prohibited there.

Generally there are certain sections on the ground and first floor where you may smoke if you wish to but please ask the staff to point out or guide you to these. (The shishas or hookah pipes –  which come in quite a wide variety of flavours, including mint and watermelon – are between R65 to R79)

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Baran’s is very much casual, relaxed dining but it comes with an interesting twist.

On the second floor, where you must go in order to access the terrace (which, given that it offers amazing views of the surrounding buildings and the city’s famous market square below and also, it reminds me of the kind of simplistically quaint, side-street terrace seating you find overseas, is worth checking out), you will find a rather spacious room with long wooden tables, chairs and a slightly raised platform at the front.

This is where functions and indeed live theatre and the like are held or performed – so don’t do a double-take when you see ‘Theatre’ written outside above the main front door.

However, http://restaurants.co.za sheds further light on Baran’s versatility by saying, “Guests can look forward to evenings of live music, comedy and entertaining theatre at Baran’s Theatre restaurant. The theatre boasts a stellar set of local and international talent throughout the year,” and they further add that it can be, “hired out for your wedding celebration, corporate function or any special occasion you wish to celebrate.”

I don’t know whether this is still the case as far as theatre performances go (you will need to contact them directly for more info.) but Baran’s does indeed still happily cater for special events and celebrations.

On my second visit to the restaurant, I had the pleasure of experiencing its theatre and ‘stage’ in action when a rather large group of interested people gathered to watch a moving and insightful documentary – entitled ‘Inside Kobane‘, which was produced and showcased by talented local journalist, Yazeed Kamaldien – on their large movie screen.

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This was yet another good experience at Baran’s – but my first true dining experience at the restaurant came just the other night when a group of friends and I gathered together to celebrate a close friend’s birthday here.

Because they are open from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Mondays to Sundays), we were able to have a tasty late supper and still stay on afterwards to chat and watch the quiet happenings in the nearby street and square at that time of night.

It was a beautifully warm evening for this time of year and thus, I was glad for us to be able to dine al fresco beneath the city lights as it was a bit stuffy inside before that but I have sat inside even on a hot day and found Baran’s to be perfectly cool and sheltering… Thus, the choice is yours.

(If you do make a table reservation, however, be sure to be arrive at the pre-arranged time because if you are a few minutes’ late, you do risk losing your spot)

The menu is quite extensive. The food (and drinks) is reasonable (between R35 to R85) and it is good value for money and overall, it’s certainly worth it.

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As a group, we ordered pizzas (we had lamb (R75), chicken (R72) and vegetable – pide – (R60) but I do recall there being at least four options to choose from, including cheese) and a mixture of drinks, including: a Kurdish coffee, milkshakes, beers, cocktails and a bottle of wine.

I chose to just have a glass of water with my meal but as a post-supper treat, I eventually managed to settle on a Dom Pedro dessert – it was that or the tempting ‘Cafe Titanic’ cocktail – in place of an alcoholic drink.

(As a side-note, their Baklava dessert is very well-received too apparently!)

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Our waitrons were friendly without their being invasive and came to check on us often enough (they also went to quite considerable lengths to join together some tables for us and did well to cater for our large group, as well as the restaurant’s other guests).

Our meal, however, did take quite a while to arrive at the table (granted, we did order pizzas) – though I must add they did bring all the pizzas at once so we were able to tuck in together.

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I really like the way the pizzas at Baran’s are sliced (not your typical triangle-shaped slices) and also found their shape and the base’s texture and thickness to be quite unlike any other pizzas I have previously sampled. (The slices even double over in places)

I can best describe the bases as being something of a cross between pita, naan and a kind of soft, though more doughy, Italian bread (hopefully that makes sense) and the base was so thick and fresh that I found myself breaking off small chunks of the crust and just eating it by itself without any topping(s).

The chicken pizza was by far my favourite. Admittedly, I am not a great fan of red meat and usually avoid lamb at all costs but even I enjoyed the slice of lamb pizza I tried.

My only minor issue with it was that it had almost too much lamb on it but the chicken was nicely topped and both were very tasty in their own right. I did not personally sample the vegetable pizza but that looked tasty too.

I also tried some of their fries/chips with my meal and found these to be excellent. They were of a nice thickness and were not oily at all.

(If you choose to eat the pizza with your hands, be advised that it can get quite messy but they provide your table with ample serviettes when they set it and there is a bathroom close at hand if you need to wash afterwards)

The drinks all seemed to go down well, barring the milkshakes, which I will discuss just now as I did sample one.

My one friend tried the Kurdish coffee (R20) – served in an expresso-size cup and accompanied by a traditional Turkish copper pot with extra in it, this is seemingly highly popular at Baran’s and frequently has people coming back for more – and even as someone who doesn’t often drink coffee, she gave it a 9/10.

I read that it has milk and sugar added but ask for more if you feel you need it. My friend said it was great as is and didn’t add anything more to it.

I must say, being quite an avid coffee drinker myself, I would love to go back and try it sometime – it looked interesting and smelt great!

(Kurdish coffee is quite special from your usual coffee, so be sure to ask the waitrons to explain its ingredients and preparation process to you if you wish to know more about it)

Now for the milkshakes…

We ordered chocolate (all milkshakes cost R30. I actually commented on this before we ordered as I feel it is pretty expensive as shakes go) and they were very disappointing.

Served in a normal-sized glass, they really weren’t anything special and sadly, you could probably whip up a glass of cold Nesquik or Milo at home and have it taste better or fancier. They were drinkable but honestly, not particularly tasty.

(I must confess that I am a huge fan of chocolate milkshakes and always feel it’s a safe thing to order anywhere so these were quite disappointing both to my friends and to me, especially given the price)

As for my post-supper Dom Pedro, I asked my waiter to advise me on which he felt to be the better option between Kahlua and Amarula as I was undecided and he recommended Amarula, saying it was very nice and creamy – which it most certainly was!

It was most yummy and had just the right amount of added alcohol without being too strong or overpowering –
and I am pleased to report that my Dom was delectable enough to make up for the disappointment of the milkshakes.

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I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it to be the perfect size/amount. (Price: R45)

(As for their cocktails, they have some Virgin ones and a few that are decidedly strong and unique)

Overall, the food and drinks were great and tasty, the portions were satisfying (the pizzas are more filling than they appear) and the atmosphere and staff of the place gel well together.

(Baran’s accepts both cash and card payments apparently)

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening and will definitely be calling into Baran’s again this year.

Be sure to give it a try!

For more info. on Baran’s, please contact them on: +27 (021) 426 44 66 or (cell number) +27 (083) 330 9633. You can also email them at: baransafrica@hotmail.com.

(Physical address: 36 Burg Street, Green Market Square, Cape Town CBD)

Many thanks to: http://restaurants.co.za and http://zomato.com for the additional info. used in this post.

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Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan

Tamlyn Ryan is a writer and blogger, who runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust. Despite a national diploma in Journalism, her preferred niche remains travel writing. She is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and above all else, the great outdoors.

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