195 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 855-9190

South Africa is known for many things. Wildlife, fishing, coastal vistas, surfing, resorts, safaris, mountain-climbing, and world-class vineyards. But it's also solidly on the map for rampant HIV rates, more violent crime than you can shake a stick at, vast lawless slums, income inequality on a level not seen since Rio de Janiero, and politicians so corrupt and inept that even Republicans wince. Also, they just hosted the World Cup (congrats to Spain). There are probably about as many South African restaurants in the city as I have fingers on one hand, so venturing out to Fort Greene Brooklyn in search of the unique is a no brainer for anyone interesting in trying cuisine from menus that vary in scope beyond pasta and chicken. Not only is it a hop, skip and a jump away, but one's chances of meeting their demise there is considerably lower than in, say, Soweto.

In honor of the aforementioned World Cup (not really) Bro and I raced southbound on the BQE to Fort Greene, around the new luxury condos shooting skywards next door to the housing projects and through the pleasant, tree-lined Brooklyn brownstones a few blocks away. Fort Greene has been slowly gentrifying. Young hipsters and old beatniks have moved in. A cute coffee shop sits on this corner. A Crown Fried Chicken sits on that one.

Inside of Madiba the theme is Afro-kitsch. Drums, the "The Gods Must Be Crazy" Coca-Cola bottle chandelier, the ever-present smile of Nelson Mandela and lots of red, green and black. The tables are rickety, somewhat sticky, and reminiscent of the cantina in some outpost town that you might see in a movie that follows the adventures of a reporter in 1975. Bro and I were led to a seat by a window by one of the most happy waitresses ever where we ordered Kenyan Beers and thought about dinner.

The first thing I ordered was the Isopho, the "soup of the moment". At that particular moment, it was a cold tomato soup with cucumber and cilantro. The heat this day was searing. The humidity somewhere in the vicinity of turn-your-shirt-into-a-sponge. A cold soup, made extra light thanks to the cucumber. I also decided to get the Farm-Raised Ostrich Carpaccio. Raw ostrich with olive oil under a bed of cheese and mache. Ostrich has been given much ballyhoo by good-healthniks. It's low in fat, low in cholesterol and, unlike chicken or turkey, it's a red meat similar to beef. Unfortunately, the typical ostrich steak, given how muscular Average Joe ostrich is, tends to be gritty and gamey. Like biting through cooked leather covered in sand. However, take that same meat and slice it carpaccio thin, and it's completely different. It's tender and soft and makes for one damn good appetizer. Bro ordered the Durban Samoosas, a fried pastry (a samosa for those who know their Indian food) filled with curried vegetables. Beside it came a sweet dipping sauce made from pickled mango seed. Don't bite down too hard. Those seeds'll break a tooth.

Bro's dinner was the Bobotie, a curried ground beef cake made with an egg-custard and almond topping and served with yellow rice and raisins. Bro liked it very much and while I thought it was good, I probably wouldn't get it myself. The rice with raisins was delicious, but the bobotie itself was too dry for my liking. It begged to be served with a plain yogurt for moisture and some added sweetness. My entree was the Oxtail Potjiekos Bredie, an oxtail stew. It came with a side dish, and I chose the Chakalaka, a baked bean dish with onion and tomato. The chakalaka I wouldn't get again, but the oxtail I would, especially with bread to soak up the sauce. The biggest downside to oxtail is that it's mostly bone. You really need to work for your meal and when it's all said and done, you're left with a pile of detritus and relatively little meat. However, the meal as a whole is a heavy one. The meat in this particular oxtail stew was so tender that it could have been eaten with a straw.

We were stuffed and didn't order dessert.

Our dinner of three appetizers, two entrees and two beers came to about $107.

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