Where everybody knows your name

The Power and the Glory; nights on Kloofnek will never be the same

In an ideal world, a neighbourhood bar is the place where the bartender addresses you by name, pours your poison without asking, and all your friends are there—every night. It’s a drinking utopia. It’s also a daydream. The bars that plod along with their devoted boozers year after year generally don’t have much going for them. Think Moe’s in the Simpsons, a seedy dive populated by alcoholic middle-aged men, then think of Adam Whiteman’s latest venture, The Power & the Glory. Everybody wants a piece of this hip bar-slash-bistro. And that’s exactly what Adam’s afraid of.

“We have such a great group of regulars,” he says over a Darling Brew Slow Lager (his favourite). “A very creative crowd—artists, writers, actors, musicians...And I want to look after those people. And keep the ‘pop the collar’ crowd out. There are much better bars for them.”

When not showing ‘jocks’ to the door, Adam has a successful hotel and restaurant design consultancy business. Most of the work is international, but one of his local babies is the Grand Café in Camps Bay.

“I built that,” he says when I remark on The Grand’s bar. Rich mahogany, carved and detailed, it looks at least to be 100-years old. Adam is an interesting guy. A country boy at heart, he grew up on a timber and game farm in the Eastern Cape. When he was 18, he moved to Florence to study Italian literature and cooking. A time he says that was completely wasted on him, “I was young, all I wanted to do was skateboard.”

His eye for design is obvious. The Power & the Glory, is the ‘bistro’ area, where punters can tuck into a basic menu. Vintage metal chairs branded with, Corona make up some of the seating, Gauguin-esque birds prints, faded posters and flat copper menus are fastened to the walls. There’s a front counter, with sour-dough bread, saucisson sec (cured sausage), and evil-looking brownies.

“My customers go wild.”

Attached to this room is the bar called, The Black Ram, at 5pm its shuttered doors swing open for revelry and misbehaviour, or perhaps just a quiet drink.

“I didn’t initially plan on serving food,” says Adam when I quiz him about the menu. “It’s just such a great corner.  We have about three sandwiches and three hotdogs.  I only serve what I can source free-range. None of my produce comes from further than 200kms.”

At the moment we’re seated in The Black Ram. On the bar are big glass jars filled with peanuts in the shell. “Monkey nuts,” says Adam. I got the idea from bars in Europe where people throw the shells on the floor. You’re welcome to do that here.”

Adam is aware that he’s on a bit of a slippery slope with his somewhat elitist policy. But hopes that his regulars will appreciate his efforts. He has plans to make signs to keep out the less desirables, “one with a loafer that has a line through it,” he says laughing. There’s also talk of a secret Facebook group, which only regulars will have access to.

Before I get up to leave, Adam orders us a round of Pickle Backs. It’s the house’s speciality, a shot of bourbon, followed by a shot of pickle juice.  He sees my wary look, “don’t worry you won’t throw up, it’s quite nice actually.”

And you know what? He’s right. It’s not the most delicious shooter in the world, but it’s definitely tasty.

Adam’s utopian ideals on the other hand, may leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths, but as he says: “This whole thing is a family to me, an extension of my house. That’s why I’m so draconian. I probably shouldn’t be in hospitality.”

By Malu Lambert


The Power and the Glory
Corner Kloof Nek and Burnside Roads | Tamboerskloof | Cape Town | + 27 (0)21 422 2108

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 8am-10pm for breakfast and lunch; The Black Ram from 5pm till late.  

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The new cool kid on the Kloof Nek block is Charlie bar and restaurant.

Check out our nightlife section, for more happening bars.

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