Breakfast at Bamboo

One of the unfortunate realities about life in Joburg is that if you need something, you’ll probably have to go a shopping mall to buy it. And the malls here are sprawling, crowded, and uniformly depressing.

But if you look carefully you can find some really lovely places to shop. Joe and I live a block away from one such lovely place — a little shopping centre called Bamboo.

Looking out at Rustenberg Road from Love Books, one of the shops in Bamboo.

Most of the action in Melville takes place along a four-block strip of restaurants and shops on 7th Street. You could stay in that area for weeks and never discover Bamboo, an unassuming two-story building on the corner of 9th Street and Rustenberg Road. That would be a shame though. Bamboo is a peaceful little eating and shopping nirvana.

Bamboo is so named because it used to be a place that made and sold wicker baskets and furniture (thanks, joburg.org.co.za). Now it’s home to one of the best restaurants in Melville, a charming book shop, an art exhibition space, a spa, and several more locally owned businesses.

Last weekend Joe and I had breakfast at Bamboo with two friends from the States. Here are a few photos.

A red cappuccino from Service Station. Red cappuccinos — rooibos tea with frothy milk on top — are all the rage in South Africa.  This was my first one. It was okay but I’d rather have a regular rooibos tea or a regular cappuccino.

I’ve written about Service Station before — it serves fresh, vegetarian-friendly food and has a lunch buffet with the most delicious salads, lasagnas, and quiches. The only bad things about Service Station are: 1) It’s only open until 6 p.m.; and 2) It’s a bit noisy, mainly because it’s always full. Not a good place for a first date.

Smoked salmon scambled eggs from Service Station. (Say that three-times fast!)

Service Station serves gourmet ice cream, made by a mysterious ice cream lady on the outskirts of town. We had to have some even though it was only 11 a.m. We wanted honey-balsamic-vinegar, but they were all out of that flavor so we got fig with lavender instead.

Love Books, next door to Service Station. All the shops at Bamboo flow into one another in this zen kind of way, so you can’t help wandering from one place into another. Without even knowing the name of the shop, my friend said to me, “The owner of this store must really love books.”

Rings at a jewelry shop called Tinsel. The jewelry is all displayed on cute dollhouse-sized furniture.

A fashion and accessory store called Black Coffee. Black Coffee is a super stylish fashion label by designer Jacques Van Der Watts. (Jacques is the first legit Joburg celeb who I’ve been photographed with for my blog — see the bottom of this post.) Black Coffee sells a line of clothing called Love Jozi — the makers of my awesome “No one reads your blog” T-shirt.

Upstairs at Bamboo, an art exhibition space on the second floor of Bamboo (obviously). The exhibitions rotate in and out every month or so. This one was a combination of paintings and sculptures by several different local artists.

Wooden aloe tree sculptures for sale at Entropy, a store that sells all kinds of fun, artsy stuff. Nice view of the Melville Koppies, where real aloe trees are growing, in the background.

If you’re visiting Melville or the surrounding area, set aside a morning for Bamboo. And try to time it for the first or third Saturday of the month so you can shop at the farmers’ market on the roof.

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18 Comments

  • Reply eva626 March 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    looks so good! and the environment looks so peaceful too! nice blog you made here!

    • Reply alexa December 2, 2011 at 8:12 am

      It’s a cute little place and very popular among the locals

      • Reply 2summers December 2, 2011 at 8:53 am

        I know — I’m one of them!

  • Reply eremophila March 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I can’t remember the last time I went to a shopping mall, but I sure don’t miss them!
    Bamboo looks a great place to visit – especially the bookshop! It has the vital ingredient for a bookshop – a place to sit and read before making a purchase. I love books:-)

  • Reply Ingrid Stahlman March 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Ok, looking for places to visit while we are there?? I think we should definitely add this to our list! Looks like a perfect place for some shopping (which I usually do not like).

    • Reply 2summers March 21, 2011 at 9:29 am

      Yes, we should definitely make a stop there during your visit.

  • Reply Tilly Bud March 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    What a great place. Not sure about those ice cream flavours, though.

  • Reply amblerangel March 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Interesting flavors!

  • Reply Fidel Che March 21, 2011 at 4:32 am

    As usual, I am very impressed with the imagery and the way your pics tell your story.

  • Reply tomorrowslices March 21, 2011 at 4:46 am

    And I thought it was only here in China that we get strange ice-cream flavours….

    • Reply 2summers March 21, 2011 at 9:31 am

      I think crazy ice cream flavors are becoming popular all over the world. I think I heard recently that there was a place selling breast-milk ice cream in London!

  • Reply toemailer March 24, 2011 at 1:21 am

    A good coffee shop makes all the difference in the world!

  • Reply tomorrowslices March 25, 2011 at 4:53 am

    I was thinking about your comment that most of the shops in Joburg are hiding out in shopping-malls – one tends to get so used to doing all one’s shopping in a mall when there aren’t many other options. Now I know why I always love exploring the shopping streets when visiting another city/country. Searching for and finding that unique, one-of-a-kind, not over-commercialised, owner-seller type of store in a hidden alley is always such a delight.

    • Reply 2summers March 25, 2011 at 8:19 am

      Indeed. Shopping is so much for fun that way. Even if you don’t buy anything!

  • Reply Rebecca March 27, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Honey balsamic vinegar ice cream? I wanna try that!

  • Reply Boekehuis | Allaboutwriting July 14, 2011 at 9:47 am

    […] are a couple of musty used book shops along 7th St., as well as a nice book store down the road at Bamboo. But the best book-shopping experience in the area is at Die Boekhuis, just outside Melville in […]

  • Reply Jay August 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Not sure which restaurant you went to but it was most definite not the same one I went to.

    My self and my guest had a Lemon Chicken sandwich, my guests was on Rye bread and mine was on a Ciabatta. What else can I say about these sandwiches, well not much really as they were just a piece of chicken stuffed between two pieces of bread, no more no less. For this they wanted R60 each. I suggest the person was making these sandwiches along with the management should to go back to school to learn how to make a sandwich as these were so poor there is no description for how poor these were.

    Avoid this establishment…..

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