Lunchtime With Tillie: Madiba

lwtmadiba-tillieGreetings neighborhood, this is your captain Van writing, and on behalf of my co-pilot Tillie, we’d like to welcome you to LWT Airlines! Next stop, South African restaurant Madiba, on Dekalb between Carlton and Adelphi.

As you can probably tell, I’ve had Tillie in that plane on my mind for quite some time! On a nice day last week, we finally made it happen. And it worked well for me because I was on a personal redemption mission with Madiba.

In all my years in the ‘hood, I’d only eaten there once and it wasn’t the greatest of experiences –  and that’s no one’s fault but my own. When I went before, I was a complete African restaurant neophyte, and instead of asking my dining companions or the waiter for recommendations, I decided to try to figure things out myself and thus, not be penalized any “cool points.”  I ordered some type of beans and “slap chips,” or twice-fried french fries, thinking it would be a tasty combination. It wasn’t, and I hadn’t eaten there since. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, it was a nice day out, a perfect one , actually, for sitting outside. And by the time we made it out there, we had our choice of where to set up camp, which it becomes in a way when you’re unloading snacks and toys.

While I was doing this, the waiter came back with T’s high chair and menus for the both of us. And Tillie’s menu – besides the simple fact of it being a menu, which is usually exciting for her – also doubled as a coloring sheet. Tillie’s really gotten into coloring: as much as a 13-month-old can, I guess. I was torn between ordering her the chicken “madibits” and fries or the veggie plate. I know, it shouldn’t be that tough a decision, but don’t worry: The veggies won out! For me, though …

I felt myself flashing back to Madiba ’05. I wanted to try something outside the norm, and finally decided on the meat pie with mashed potatoes. I felt good about my choice, but the waiter came back and told me they were out of the pies. I went to my backup option, the Yebo burger and chips. That’s exotic, right? (I know, not really!)

As we were waiting for the food, Tillie was enjoying her coloring and her cheddar bunny crackers. Actually, she was enjoying the crackers at an exceptionally fast pace. So I asked the waiter if we could get her vegetables as soon as possible before we were left with just the essence of cheddar bunnies in her little container. We were down to her last four or five, and then the veggies came out: a plate of carrots, broccoli, green beans and mushrooms, all served nice and hot and tender. I took a little bite to see what we were working with and speaking for her (since she can’t really hop on my computer and type it out herself), they were really good. She enjoyed all of them, especially the broccoli and carrots.

Then my food came out and the burger was about as big as Tillie! It was topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions and baby greens. There was also a little bit of sauce on it, which I wasn’t too thrilled about after asking the waiter if there was going to be any on it and he said no. But I gave it a try and it was fine. I cut the burger in half, took a bite and was instantly satisfied. There were pieces of onions in it, which only enhanced the flavor. There was also an order of slap chips that came with the burger, and they were perfect. I guess it’s the twice-frying process, but they maintain a crispiness, while being soft in the center, if that makes sense!


These slap chips were so good, I figured I’d give some to my fry-loving lil’ buddy. She liked them, but when I dipped them in the ketchup for her, that took the fries to a whole new level! A level so high, in fact, that the veggies she was eating so well were quickly forgotten. When will I learn: Don’t give her fries until she’s filled up on vegetables!

I tried to pass her a carrot, but you could see the slap chips and ketchup dancing in her eyes. So, I thought, “Hey, this baby carrot is kind of fry-shaped: I’ll dip it in ketchup and see how that goes.” I was able to get her to finish off her carrots, at least, by doing that. Tillie didn’t fall for it when I tried that with the broccoli, though! I helped her finish off MY fries and that was that.

I got the check, which wasn’t bad at 17 bucks, I felt, because we both ate pretty heartily. The accommodations were perfect for us and the waiter was very nice. Plus, I got to exorcise any Madiba demons I might have had!

And then, there’s the airplane outside of the restaurant! Before we left, I plopped Tillie in, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any change on me. I shook her around a little in it and she seemed to have fun doing that. That’s another reason to return, for a really good ride.

So, on behalf of my co-pilot Tillie, we’d like to thank you for choosing LWT Airlines! See you next week!