Last Friday eve I headed over to good old Dunkley Square, between Barnet & Wandel St in Gardens, for a surprise birthday party for an old friend (and nooooooo, that’s not a dig at his age… although it would’ve been a good one ;) ).

The first stop for the evening was lovely Greek eatery, Maria’s.  Now Maria’s has actually been around for yonks, in fact I vaguely remember going there for dinner once during my early Cape Town years.  I recall it being not much to look at, but the food was well priced & tasty.  I now hear that it was closed for about a two year period and then re-opened with a new, fresh look towards the beginning of 2011.

I must say, I absolutely love the new look.  Beautiful fairy lights in the trees outside.  Very cosy inside.  An easy, welcoming space with large windows and neutral, yet warm colours.  It kinda felt like we had stepped out of Cape Town and into a little European street cafe.

I loved the fact that they serve your wine in pretty glass tumblers – apparently that’s just the way they would do it over in Greece.  And then these LED candles had me totally fascinated:

So kitch it's cool or a major decor no-no? Not really sure to be honest... but I kinda liked them, just a little.

Now the birthday boy is one of those people who already has everything.  So buying for him is a tough job.  Thank goodness for Big Blue – your one-stop shop for anything cool, weird & fun.  Part of his gift was this “Maybe you touched your genitals” hand sanitiser which had everyone practically in tears:

Well... maybe you did? :)

Could you imagine whipping that out at the office with a straight face and asking your colleagues whether they maybe wanted to clean their hands?  Awkward…

After the big S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E!!!, which was a very successful one btw thanks to his girlfriend’s amazing planning skills, we got stuck into some mezes.  Items like fried halloumi, tiropitakia, spanakopita, keftethes served with tzatziki and more:

All so incredibly yum! I was really blown away by these mezes. Especially that fried halloumi. Mmmmmm.

For mains we got to choose from a selection of seafood & lamb dishes.  I went for the patagonian calamari, while the folks around me went for the beer battered hake & slow roasted Karoo lamb:

Apologies, I didn't really take note of prices as we had all paid a set price per person which covered you for food & drinks.

I’m not gonna lie, after those amazing mezes I was a bit underwhelmed by the mains.  It wasn’t bad by any means, I just expected the flavours to pop more.  It might have been partly due to us being such a big group – we filled the entire place, so trying to get that much food out at the same time can be quite challenging.

But you know, there’s really a lot to be said for a place that manages to create such a warm, welcoming atmosphere ensuring that everyone’s having an absolute blast.  The food to me was a bit of a sideline cause I was having such a great time…

How do you like my new super cheese collage feature huh? Impressed much? ;)

Theeeeen, the grand finale…dessert time!  And what does every birthday boy want?  A car cake of course!

Ta da bitches...

Gillian, our party planner, told me that dealing with Maria’s to put this party together was a really pleasant experience.  She says the owners were lovely and very accommodating and I can personally vouch for their friendly service.  So if you are looking for a venue for a party or private function, give them a call on 021 461 3333.

When Maria’s started closing up, we walked a solid 10 meters to Roxy’s Cafe, which is situated on the same side as Maria’s, but on the other end of the square.  It’s quite an interesting little spot with comic books all over the walls, an toy boxes (of all things) on the ceiling…

Hmmmm.... OK OK, it's weird.... but I think I like it...

I liked the chilled vibe at Roxy’s.  It’s a cool spot to have a few drinks and a laugh without having to deal with long queues to get in, scary bouncers and being squeezed in like sardines.  That definitely gets bonus points in my book.

They also have this cute old typewriter on display, which actually still works.  We decided to do a “This is Karisa on tik” photo…

OK I'll admit... it was way funnier at the time... you have to get the Afrikaans connection and all... but hey, everyone knows wine fuelled ideas always sound way more brilliant in the moment. haha.

Best thing of all, Dunkey Square is almost right on my doorstep.  So when I ran out of steam (yes, that sometimes happens, just sometimes) my tipsy butt was only like 5min away from my comfy bed.  Fantastic!

All ‘n all it was a very successful night out & about with some great friends.  And that’s exactly what Friday nights should be all about. :)