Up until 18 months ago, the east side of the southernmost block on Melville’s 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue) was a merry-go-round of opening and closing restaurants and shops. During the six years that I’ve lived in Melville I remember (just off the top of my head) a combination-cupcake-flower shop, a Scottish kilt shop, a bead shop (which moved around the corner), a pizza place, a bland café, an antique shop, a print supply shop, and a bridal shop (where I never spotted a single bride, or even a customer, in the two-plus years it was there), all open and close on that small stretch of street.
This is generally the way things roll in Melville. But that half a block has recently become a hotbed of culinary, rock-and-roll trendiness and I have high hopes that the shops and restaurants there now will hang around for a while. I happened to eat at two of the restaurants on that block this week, and thought I’d do quickie reviews of them both.
Hell’s Kitchen was the first new place to move into the merry-go-round block in late 2014, along with Freedom Hair, which I’ve reviewed before. Hell’s Kitchen is one of those restaurant/bars that I didn’t bother to review initially because it was so immediately popular and I figured it didn’t need yet another blog post. But now I’ve changed my mind.
Hell’s Kitchen is known mainly as a bar, where serious partiers go on Friday and Saturday nights to get their drink on. (This is another reason I haven’t reviewed it before: I’m not a serious partier and I’m usually asleep by 10:00 on Friday and Saturday nights.) Actually though, Hell’s Kitchen serves damn good food. Up until recently, I’d only been for lunch and I’d always ordered the chickpea and coriander falafel soft tacos, which are excellent. But this week I went to Hell’s Kitchen for a proper dinner, and ordered the mozzarella lamb burger with chimichurri sauce and a side of fried onions. I wasn’t disappointed.
My lamb burger, with my friend Michael’s signature, double-patty “HK Burger” in the background. On the left corner is a glimpse of the falafel tacos, which Ray ordered.
I highly recommend Hell’s Kitchen as a dinner spot. Not only is the food good, but restaurant’s wait and bar staff possess the most magnificent collection of interesting tattoos and body piercings that you’ll find outside of a body art convention. It’s best to arrive early, before 7 pm, to avoid the bar crowd. Hell’s Kitchen also has great outdoor seating for lunch (and dinner, if it’s not too cold).
Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar, which has snagged the great corner spot where the empty bridal shop used to be, only opened about two weeks ago but has already been reviewed by several Joburg bloggers: see here and here and here. I feel a bit silly adding my review to the pile, for reasons discussed above, but this place is too good not to write about.
[Side note: It took me a while to figure out what the name “Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar” means. I was embarrassed to ask because I felt like I was missing an inside joke that everyone else was in on. But this morning I finally realized that it must be a play on Pablo Escobar, the name of the infamous Colombian drug dealer of the 1980s and 90s.]
As the name indicates, Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar offers a menu that centers around eggs. While the restaurant’s evening hours seem sporadic at the moment, the eventual plan is for it to be open as a bar/late-night breakfast spot.
Make no mistake — Pablo’s ain’t no greasy-spoon diner. Run by the same people who own the fantastic Great Eastern Food Bar, Pablo’s serves innovative, sophisticated cuisine at affordable prices.
I won’t go into detail, as the full report is available in the other blog posts I linked to above. But if you like eggs, Pablo’s is a must-visit. Go for breakfast, go for lunch, go for dinner. Just call ahead (063 335 9348) to confirm they’re open — especially at night because I noticed they were closed at 6:00 p.m. last Thursday — and bring your own booze until Pablo’s secures its liquor license.
My Pablo’s breakfast: Red shakshuka with perfectly poached eggs, spicy tomato sauce, and cilantro over the most delicious homemade flatbread. It came with mouthwatering sides of hummus and a pico-de-gallo-like veggie salad. My two friends ordered French toast and the Yemeni flatbread with Israeli salad and hummus, respectively. Everyone loved everything.
There you have it: two quickie restaurant reviews for the price of one. Here’s hoping that the Melville merry-go-round block stops spinning for a while.