Madame Zingara General Nonsense 15 APR 2008

Madame ZingaraFinally it was here, the evening that Chantelle had so been looking forward to for months already – Our night out at Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams.

Michelle, Andri and Chantelle had plotted this evening out ages ago already and although perhaps not the keenest in the world about the whole affair, Gary, Malcolm and myself found ourselves stepping into a world of unadulterated opulence as we strode through the gates to Madame Zingara’s palace situated on the outskirts of Century City last Thursday evening.

Any grumblings of heavily expensive tickets were soon forgotten as we stepped into this magical world of sight and sound, literally into a world that seems to have been ripped straight out of an operatic art-house movie.

Firstly, the comes the awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping venue which is this huge, billowing purple velvet tent which is known as a Spiegelpaleis, one of only a handful left in the world. Originally from Belgium and made in the early 1900s, these gigantic tents sit upon a wooden frame lavishly decked out with mirrors that completely cover the entire circular inside and topped all around with exquisite stained glass panels. The shape and size of the tent is not unlike that of a circus tent, but rather it presents itself on a far more luxurious and opulent scale. The lighting inside is purposefully dimmed down and ornate light fixtures hang all around you.

The spacious interior features a bar and little Bijoux Boutique that sells all things feathery and shiny and the tables are laid out in a circular fashion, spiralling around the small centre stage that plays host to all the acts that are to follow.

The waiters and waitresses are all dressed up from the weird to the wonderful, from bearded ladies, to nurses and belly dancers and it isn’t uncommon to see the guests arrive all dressed up in the fun gypsy spirit of things. Hats and feather boas abound and if you want to feel even more a part of the crowd, you might want to liven up your costume just a little before entering the arena.

The evening’s show starts promptly at 20:00 and continues well until after 23:00 and even when the scheduled entertainment comes to an end, the centre stage opens up and music fills the air to ensure that you can continue with your fun night out.

The eating experience consists of a five course meal that is set out in stages, all interspersed with the various live acts that keeps your entertained and the conversation at the table flowing. The meal structure is that of the Antipasto which is basically your bread, snacks pre-starter, the Primi Piatti which is your main started and can be anything from Cannelloni to Triagolem follow by the main course Secondi Piatti and then finally by the Dolce triple dessert section.

The food is all presented in a way that makes you think you are sitting in a 5 star restaurant and the portions are all as dainty and decorated as any gourmet chef would want it to be. If you are a man, don’t go expecting burgers and chips because that fare is simply not going to cut it here. The food is a culinary delight and a wondrous mix of exotic flavours and textures and the more food knowledgeable patrons are certainly in for a treat!

Just a quick note on the main course, you have a choice between the catch of the day (ours was Norwegian Salmon), Chocolate Chilli Fillet (which was my choice for the evening), Lamb Tagine and Tortina di Ceci for those vegetarians amongst us. Like I said my choice was the fillet which is made up of a seductive blend of dark Belgium chocolate, rosemary & hint of chilli, which is then dribbled over a succulent beef fillet on a bed of sautéed black mushrooms and arugula. Simply divine I tell you!

Obviously apart from the gastronomic outing, the other big part that makes up the Madame Zingara experience is the live performances which are quite literally ripped right straight out from the circus. A handful of international performers make up the team and you are bedazzled by their wide variety of aerial acts, including trapeze, rope, scarfs and a gigantic metal ball that has three performers hanging from it at once! Complementing this large number of aerial routines is a strongmen routine and a world class contortionist that will literally leave your jaw on the ground.

In amongst all the circus acrobatics, you also get quite a few song and dance routines, performed by a voluptuous group of singers including a lady so big and round that she looks like she might roll down the stairs should she ever trip and fall. But like Chantelle noted, man she has a voice to die for!

And then there is the shadow. The shadow is one of the lightest, most agile acrobats you will ever see, clad completely from head to toe in black and who moves in and about the guests as you dine, always silently and almost completely undetectable. Heck, more than once I would feel something scratching my head, turn around and find this bloke perched on top of the backrest of my chair – and I never felt a thing! Even Chantelle had a hat mysteriously dumped on her head before she could sense something amiss :)

Our evening as it was turned out a complete success and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that. Everyone enjoyed the food and loved the entertainment and in all honesty Chantelle and I were quite sad to take our leave from the venue after the final act closed and the dancing began, but knew we had that stupid long drive back to Gordon’s Bay ahead of us. (Although in hindsight perhaps it was best that we left when we did because it took us a full minute or two plus the help of the car guard to realise we were trying to unlock the wrong green Hyundai Getz!)

To sum it all up, an evening out at Madame Zingara’s is something you won’t easily find anywhere else. The atmosphere is one of complete opulence, decadence and gypsy madness, the indescribable venue is a sight in itself to behold, the acrobatic circus and singing entertainment can only be described as first class and the gourmet level food is simply out of this world. As much as I hate to admit that Chantelle and the girls are right, you probably really should do yourself a favour and check out the Madame Zingara experience for yourself!

Madame Zingara
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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.