La Perla moved to its present address on Beach Road, Sea Point in the 1970's. Immediately it became the the new focus of attention for the cafe society. Great, almost seductive food, personalised service and a stunning view of the sea and of the boulevadiers. Unusual in those days in a restaurant not attached to an hotel, La Perla boasted a liquor licence.
The managers and waiters were personalities in their own right. Some of the managers eventually moved on and became established restaurateurs. The waiters knew everyone, greeted everyone by name and remembered exactly what everyone loved to eat. Today, Victor and Birdie are benign ghosts who hover over the younger crew and sigh for the good old days. There are still some old faces that faithfully follow the original formula of knowing and caring. Daya tells proudly that he is now the longest serving waiter at La Perla. Tony, always smiling, quickly organises us and sees to it that we are well served.
Celebrities graced La Perla with their presence. Chris Barnard with his beautiful young wife. Italian film stars and playboys and playgirls preened themselves for the social pages. Politicians of every strata wandered by and there was always a feeling of being in an exciting, special place. La Dolce Vita!
La Perla of today hasn't changed all that much. It recently had a year-long face lift, but like the grand old trooper that she is, she did not close at all. With an expanded and modern kitchen, beautiful terraces and a gleaming plunge pool, La Perla sailed into the 21st century, glamour and all. Certain things have remained unchanged; the heavy wooden carved Ceasar chairs remain and the extraordinary lipstick ceiling lights are still providing a seductive glow.
So many La Perla stories, so much nostalgia. We simply expect La Perla to always be there. La Perla has younger sisters in Newlands and Stellenbosch, but this is about the oldest and most venerable sister.
Come on, let's meet at La Perla.
La Perla Restaurant, Beach Rd, Sea Point. Open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Sunday.
Booking is advised, essential at night and on weekends.
Tel: +27 21 439-9538
Eugene and I love eating out and always pay for our meals whenever and wherever we go.