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quickie restaurant review

Staff at NGC Blairgowrie

July Restaurant of the Month: NGC Blairgowrie

NGC is not what you’d expect to find at the busy intersection of Barkston and Conrad Drive in Blairgowrie. There’s a tire store across the road and a lawnmower repair shop next door, and it just doesn’t feel like the right place for a classy restaurant. And yet here it is, amidst the Joburg sprawl: a little bistro that could pass for a Paris pavement café. Outside NGC: The man in the photo is the chef, Gareth, who owns NGC with his wife Emma. In case you’re wondering, NGC stands for “Neighbour Goods Café”. I had lunch at NGC on a Saturday afternoon when I was really, really hungry and busy catching up with friends. So I don’t have many photos and this will be a short post. But I don’t want to delay writing it any longer. This is a restaurant not to be missed. Saturday Lunch at NGC In many ways the NGC menu is standard 2018-style bistro food, with a selection of “small plates” and larger main dishes and burgers. All very classy and what a lot of nice Joburg restaurants are doing. But NGC stands out because it’s particularly unpretentious, and because the food is So. […]

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Andrew, owner of Sumting Fresh

June Restaurant of the Month: Sumting Fresh

I can describe Sumting Fresh in one (not so) simple word: South-African-Asian-American-fried-chicken-street-food. Sumting Fresh, on Grant Avenue in Norwood. Inside Sumting Fresh. Really though, Sumting Fresh is hard to explain. It was once a food trailer in Midrand, then became a food truck, then a full-on food party bus feeding thousands of festival-goers, then a brick-and-morter restaurant in Norwood. (Also, the food bus is still going strong today.) Sumting Fresh serves creative and sophisticated cuisine in a casual, fun, almost-fast-food environment. Sumting Fresh doesn’t fit into any particular genre. It’s just delicious. What is Sumting Fresh? The magic of Sumting Fresh can be summed up through its signature dish, Gujon Chicken. Here’s the Gujon Chicken description from the Sumting Fresh menu: “crumbed deep fried chicken strips / asian slaw / aioli / sweet chilli / parmesan / fries / watermelon”. It’s a crazy combination of ingredients served in a big, cheese-covered, deep-fried pile that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with at first. But I was enchanted by the first bite. I didn’t stop eating until I was way too full, even though I hadn’t even come close to the bottom of the dish yet. I asked co-owner/chef Andrew Leeuw — […]

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Outside Toninos in Orange Grove

May Restaurant of the Month: Tonino’s

Tonino’s has been on my hit list forever. Tonino’s: Is it a sports pub? A blues venue? A casino? A Portuguese restaurant? A pizza take-away? Yes. All of that. I first noticed Tonino’s a few years ago during a visit to the fabulous Kalahari Books, which is across the street. The restaurant caught my eye immediately with its bright yellow facade. I made a mental note to check it out sometime, then forgot about it. Then last month I saw this article in Hello Joburg magazine about Jozi’s top five dive bars, and Tonino’s made the list. I also noticed the restaurant has a buy-one-get-one-free deal on the Entertainer app. (Side note: The Entertainer app is awesome. Here is a post I wrote about it a few years ago.) The universe seemed to be telling me I should go have fun at Tonino’s. So I did that. Having Fun at Tonino’s I first visited Tonino’s on a Friday night with a group of friends. I’m really not much of a bar fly normally, but I loved this place the moment I stepped through the door. The walls are full of character, decorated with interesting pictures and neon signs and old-school […]

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Bagels at Bagel Zone

April Restaurant of the Month: The Bagel Zone

A few months ago I blogged about Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen in Glenhazel. I was excited to find Feigel’s because they sell authentic boiled bagels, which are hard to find in Johannesburg. Through my post about Feigel’s I learned about another Joburg shop called the Bagel Zone, which opened less than two years ago. I took one look at the Bagel Zone website and knew I had to check it out. This place offers some things I hadn’t found in Joburg before, even at Feigel’s. The Bagel Zone, in the Genesis Shopping Centre in Fairmount. Lunch rush at the Bagel Zone. A Parade of Bagels at the Zone Unlike Feigel’s, a full-service delicatessen with a wide range of kosher foods, the Bagel Zone is a straight-up bagel shop. The Bagel Zone — I’ll call it the Zone for short — does offer salads and a few other extras, but essentially this is a place to buy bagels, cream cheese, bagel sandwiches, and that’s it. The Bagel Zone’s impressive bagel spread. The Zone reminds me of all the bagel shops I frequented in the U.S., with a long row of freshly baked bagels in a variety of flavors. I was overjoyed to […]

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Bergbron Plaaskombuis breakfast

March Restaurant of the Month: Bergbron Plaaskombuis

Afrikaans is a crazy language, with super-long words filled with many vowels, guttural g’s, and rolling r’s requiring acrobatic tongue movements. Afrikaans food words are no exception; they are delightful and I have no idea what they mean or how to pronounce them. Such were my thoughts as I pondered the menu at Bergbron Plaaskombuis. Bergbron Plaaskombuis. “Plaaskombuis” means farm kitchen. “Plaas” is farm and “kombuis” is kitchen and the two words are combined together into one long word, as often happens in Afrikaans. “Kwekery” means nursery. What is tuisgebakte and how on earth do I say it? What about boepensbroodjie, roosterbrode, sonop jaffel, vaaljapie? Skilpadjies? The menu at Bergbron Plaaskombuis, which the server delivered with a tiny tin cup of homemade ginger beer.  Bergbron (another inscrutable Afrikaans word) is a western Jozi suburb, adjacent to Northcliff, Greymont, and Florida Glen. I was excited to discover an interesting restaurant there (thanks to Gail for the tip), as I find the sprawling West Rand suburbs difficult to penetrate from a “things to do” perspective. The Plaaskombuis is definitely something worth doing. Breakfast at Bergbron Plaaskombuis Marie-Lais and I went to the Plaaskombuis on a cold, rainy Friday morning. The restaurant sits on the property […]

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Pizza and beer at Impi Brewing Company

February Restaurant of the Month: Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville

It’s time for the second installment of my 2018 Restaurant of the Month series. This month I’m featuring the Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville. I almost hesitate to call Impi a restaurant, as it’s really more of a hangout. But Impi has such a cool atmosphere, in such an interesting Joburg location, that I feel compelled to include it in this series. Outside Impi Brewing Co. Impi means “war” in Zulu. Impi is in the new Victoria Yards complex, in the tiny suburb of Lorentzville, which is between Bertrams and Troyeville. My friend Gail just wrote an interesting post about Lorentzville, which I recommend. Lorentzville is also home to the legendary Fama Deli. The first cool thing about Impi is it’s in Victoria Yards, this sprawling warren of artists’ studios and gardens and galleries and workshops that just opened a few months ago. (I briefly mentioned Victoria Yards in a post last month.) The second cool thing is the decor: It’s a tiny place filled with an eclectic mix of Zulu art/artifacts, modern industrial furnishings, and quirky antiques. Inside Impi Brewing Co. with owners Nico (left) and Tsietsi (right), and bartender Kgomotso (middle). I love the headdresses on the wall behind them. The […]

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Pork belly from Reserved Cafe in Melville

January Restaurant of the Month: Reserved Cafe in Melville

Since I finished my #Gauteng52 series in 2017, many people have asked what my 2018 campaign will to be. I actually wasn’t planning to do anything. But upon further reflection it might be nice to do a couple of shorter projects. Hence, I bring you the 2018 Restaurant of the Month series. My January feature is Reserved Cafe in Melville. I stumbled upon this restaurant a week or two ago. It’s on 4th Avenue in Melville in 27 Boxes — a shopping center made from shipping containers. (27 Boxes has received some disdain from the community since it opened a couple of years ago, but the centre is under new management now and I think it’s finally finding its feet.) Reserved is on the ground floor in one of the spots opening out onto the street. The interior of Reserved Cafe, the size of a single shipping container. An iced coffee from Reserved Cafe, at an outdoor table overlooking 4th Avenue. Normally I get annoyed by iced coffees that are more like milkshakes than coffee. But this one was particularly good — not too sweet — so I didn’t mind. I had walked past Reserved a couple of times before and didn’t consciously […]

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donuts at Kramerville Bakery

A Secret Bakery in Kramerville

UPDATE (February 2018): The bad news is, Kramerville Bakery has closed (sad face). The good news is, Eloise and Alex are opening a new restaurant in Illovo, scheduled to open next month. Follow their Facebook page for more information. The Kramerville Bakery is hard to explain. As is Kramerville itself. Despite the small-town-sounding name, Kramerville is a street full of furniture showrooms and interior design warehouses in an industrial area just off the M1 highway north of Sandton. A few years ago, a ragtag bunch of restaurants, coffeeshops, and bars started popping up amongst the showrooms and warehouses. These food and drink venues are usually hidden above, behind, or inside the showrooms and warehouses, and hence accessible only to people in the know. The Kramerville Bakery is the newest of these secret venues. The entrance to the Kramerville Bakery. Note the stacks of plumbing pipe outside the door. To find the Kramerville Bakery you must drive to the end of Desmond Street (Kramerville’s main drag), make a right onto Archimedes Street, then turn right into an unmarked parking lot and drive to the end. There you will find a plumbing supply warehouse, no sign of a bakery. Park your car, walk […]

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Lunch at Andalousse

Andalousse: A Quickie Cape Town Restaurant Review

A few weeks ago, during a very bad week, I was in Cape Town. I couldn’t really taste food but I needed to eat. So when my friend Lucy invited my friend Di and me to have lunch at a restaurant called Andalousse, I accepted. Inside Andalousse Authentic Moroccan Cuisine. Andalousse is a Moroccan restaurant, probably the only one in Cape Town, on Victoria Road in Woodstock. It’s a very busy street and Andalousse is an unassuming place, so you have to look: It’s across the street from the police station and right next to a small doctor’s surgery. Don’t be put off by the location; Andalousse is worth it. I’m no expert on Moroccan cuisine. But the food was delicious and the owner of Andalousse, Moosa, was wonderful. This is a great change of pace from the usual high-end, artisanal Cape Town fare that foodie bloggers normally blog about. (Don’t get me wrong, I love high-end, artisanal Cape Town fare but this is just something different.) Andalousse reminds me more of the secret food dives I love to review here in Joburg. Lunch at Andalousse For three people we ordered: One kofta tajine; One half-order of shish kabab; One half-order […]

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Click Boutique Hotel garden

Quickie Restaurant (and Hotel) Review: Clico Boutique Hotel

Last month Ray and I were invited to enjoy dinner, bed, and breakfast at the Clico Boutique Hotel in Rosebank. I jumped at the chance. People are always asking me for Joburg hotel recommendations, but I rarely have much to offer because who spends the night at hotels in their own city? I was also eager to try Clico’s restaurant as I’d heard good things. My birthday was in July so I decided to schedule our visit on that day, and Clico turned out to be a great place for a sumptuous birthday feast. Dinner at Clico. The garden and pool area at Clico Boutique Hotel. What I liked about Clico: 1) The location. Clico is in Rosebank, just a couple of blocks from the Gautrain station and across the street from the Keyes Art Mile. 2) The service. The reception staff, wait staff, and everyone working at Clico were particularly outgoing and friendly. I offered some feedback after my stay via email, and the Clico management responded immediately in a positive and proactive manner. 3) The wifi. Clico has free, unlimited wifi with a simple password and no silly vouchers or megabyte limits. WHY DOESN’T EVERY HOTEL DO THIS? 4) The […]

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Rosto in Linden - outside at night

Quickie Restaurant Review: Rosto in Linden

Linden, a quirky Jozi suburb not far from Melville, has always been one of my favorite dining spots in town. The Cheese Shop is there, as is Hashi. There are at least five great Linden restaurants that I’ve eaten at but never gotten around to blogging about, and at least five more that I’ve heard great things about but haven’t eaten at yet. So when I received an invite to have dinner at Rosto, I jumped at the opportunity to expand my Linden repertoire. Rosto, which is right in the middle of Linden’s 7th Street restaurant row. Rosto is new — less than a year old — and specializes in Italian-inspired roasted chicken and street food. [Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci invented the automated spit-roaster more than 500 years ago? I didn’t, until my meal at Rosto.] This is a Quickie Restaurant Review so I’ll be quick. What I liked about Rosto: 1) The decor. The restaurant is bright and cheerful and there is enough light to read the menu at night. Inside Rosto. 2) The staff. The people working at Rosto are nice, responsive, and knowledgeable about the menu, which is important because the menu is extensive […]

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Chicken wings starter from Mamasan

Quickie Restaurant Review: Mamasan in Melville

UPDATE (February 2018): Mamasan has closed and I’m sad. Last week I had lunch at Mamasan, a brand-new restaurant on 7th Street in Melville. (Mamasan is so brand-new that it doesn’t have a website or even a review on Zomato yet. But here is its Zomato page as a placeholder.) It was delicious and I have very high hopes for this joint. My lunch at Mamasan: pan-fried masala hake with cos lettuce, grape, cucumber, gherkin, green bean, apple, cashew nut salsa, and dhania vinaigrette. Such a delightful combination of flavors, all for R90 ($6.39). Mamasan is at the top of 7th Street, near the intersection of 1st Avenue, next to the ancient Golf Tea Room convenience store. Here are the reasons I’m excited about Mamasan:  1) Mamasan serves Cape-Malay-inspired cuisine. (You can read more about Cape Malay cuisine in this post.) I love Cape Malay food and there is very little of it to be found in Joburg. Mamasan’s meat is free-range and the menu is pork-free, for the kosher and halaal diners among you. My friend Sandy ordered the “sticky suur vy chicken wings” appetizer, which she really enjoyed. 2) Mamasan has beautiful, well executed decor and a professional, thoughtful menu. This […]

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