Welcome to Week 20 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Victorian Secret, a restaurant and bakery in Benoni.
I hate to break it to you guys, but the Victorian Secret in Benoni doesn’t sell lingerie. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great place to take your wife or girlfriend.
Okay, that was a terrible metaphor but I had to do it. Moving right along.
I was introduced to the Victorian Secret by Laurice from the Johannesburg in Your Pocket Guide. Laurice grew up in Benoni and took my friend Marie-Lais and me on an exploration of this quirky town just east of Joburg.
(In the past I have referred to Benoni as a suburb — as I would to any smallish town on the outskirts of a huge city — but I found out the hard way that some Benoni residents do not take kindly to this characterization. Lesson learned. Sorry, Benoni: You’re a town and nothing but a town.)
We didn’t find any flamingos on the lake, as Laurice remembered from childhood, and our visit to the Benoni Museum was disappointing. (Do not visit the Benoni Museum. Take my word for it.) But our quick stop for pastries at the Victorian Secret intrigued me, so much so that I made another trek to Benoni a few weeks later to have lunch there.
Lunch and Pastries at the Victorian Secret
The first thing I noticed about the Victorian Secret was the building itself. Historic Tait House was built in 1911, right at the end of the Victorian era, and the house has a fascinating and inspiring story, having narrowly escaped demolition in 2009. The house has now been renovated and found its perfect occupant in the Victorian Secret.
The Victorian Secret is best known for its afternoon tea, and you all know I love a good afternoon tea. But my friend Fiver and I didn’t book in advance so we had to order from the regular lunch menu. Lunch was great but the afternoon tea is now high on my list. The people sitting next to us were having it and it looked amazing.
My lunch — a deconstructed chicken pie for R72 (about $6). I cringe to think of how many ounces of butter were in this dish but I must confess it tasted very good. The rest of the menu looked great too and the dishes have cute names, like “Our Charlize” (named for Charlize Theron, who hails from Benoni) and “the British Bulldog”.
The Victorian Secret restaurant is nice, but the adjacent bakery is the real highlight. Run by pastry chef Chantel Corless, this bakery serves some of the prettiest and tastiest pastries I’ve seen in the Joburg area.
Fiver and I had a nice chat with Les Godwin, the Victorian Secret owner, who was manning the cash register in the bakery. Les owns the Victorian Secret with his son, who came up with the name. Obviously both father and son have a good sense of humor.
I’ll be back soon for tea.
The Victorian Secret is located at the corner of Woburn Avenue and Russel Street in Benoni, and is open Monday to Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Call +27-11-420-1912.