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restaurants

Chef Martin holding a rainbow cake at Café Patisse

#Gauteng52, Week 25: Scrumptious Pastries at Café Patisse

Welcome to Week 25 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 Café Patisse in Emmarentia. I’ve been hitting the bakeries hard in this #Gauteng52 series. Out of 25 posts so far (browse them all here), at least five are about bakeries or bakery-like dining establishments. I wasn’t planning to add another so soon. Then I tagged along on a visit to Café Patisse and changed my mind. A woman gazes through the window of Café Patisse’s new location on Komatie Street in Emmarentia. I don’t blame you, lady. Everything in there looks delicious. Here’s what she was gazing at. Café Patisse, which belongs to South African pastry chef Martin Ferreira, recently moved from the industrial neighborhood of Wynberg (near Sandton) to the inner suburb of Emmarentia. I had never heard of it before but according to Marie-Lais, who tipped me off about Café Patisse, Martin has had a pastry-loving cult following in Johannesburg for a while and is also a supplier for hotels and other restaurants. Martin is best known for his eclairs but he also produces spectacular cakes and other pastries. Inside […]

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Cocktail at Social Kitchen + Bar

Three Bars for Great Cocktails in Jozi

I’ve never been a big cocktail drinker. With the exception of an occasional margarita at a Mexican restaurant or gin and tonic on a game drive, you’ll rarely see me sipping liquor. I feel like most cocktails are 80 percent ice, and I find myself finished after five minutes and wishing I’d ordered wine instead. However, I’ve recently been to three new bar/restaurants in Joburg that transformed my perception of cocktails, inspiring me to write my first-ever cocktail blog post. Here they are: 1) Social Kitchen + Bar Thami Gobedi, bartender at Social Kitchen + Bar. Social Kitchen + Bar is notable for several reasons. First, it’s a restaurant inside Joburg’s largest and best known retail bookstore: Exclusive Books in Hyde Park Mall. Second, Social Kitchen + Bar has one of Joburg’s top chefs, Russell Armstrong, and the food is spectacular. (I haven’t eaten a full meal there yet but I’ve tasted some mind-blowing samples.) Third, the bar takes inspiration from its location and offers a creative menu of literature-inspired cocktails. The Social Kitchen dining room which, unlike all the other restaurants in Hyde Park Mall, has actual windows. A cocktail inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, made with Bulliet bourbon, lemon, orange marmalade, and Angostura […]

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Shepherd and his beaded hoopoe in Melville, the best antidote to the Trumpacolypse

Melville: The Trumpocalypse Antidote

Perhaps it’s the combination of jet lag and grief, but I am not recovering well from Trumpocalypse. I tried to put on a brave face with my gratitude list, but the truth is I’m horrified and I’ve lost a piece of my identity. I often remark upon the fact that when living in South Africa, the first thing everyone notices about me is my American-ness. This has never really bothered me. I’ve always been more or less proud of my country. I’ve been happy to be known as an American in Quirky Johannesburg. But now, suddenly, my relationship with America feels like a relationship with a spouse who I just discovered has been cheating. Who is this country I thought I knew so well? How could you humiliate me like this, America? What did I do wrong? How did I miss the signs that we were growing apart? How could you leave me, and how will I cope without you? Worst of all, what will happen to the millions of other betrayed spouses who are still living with you? What will happen to the entire world? We trusted you, America, and you’ve let us down. Fortunately, I live in Melville. A sign outside Junkie Charity Store, one of my favorite hangouts in […]

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Inside Mad Giant

Five Amazing New Places in Downtown Jozi (not in Maboneng or Braamfontein)

Downtown Jozi is on fire. There are cool shopping, dining, and art destinations popping up all over the city. The Joburg Ballet performs at Joziburg Lane, one of downtown’s newest destinations, on its opening weekend. Regeneration in Joburg’s inner city is nothing new: Exciting stuff has been happening downtown since I moved to Joburg in 2010, and long before that. What’s different about the last year or two — and especially the last six-to-eight months —  is that inner-city regeneration is no longer largely limited to the hipster hubs of Maboneng and Braamfontein. Urban renewal is everywhere and it’s becoming easier to travel between all the new restaurants, shops, and markets. Maboneng and Braamfontein are still great and there is new stuff opening in those areas all the time. But if you’re looking for fun in the city, it isn’t necessary to limit yourself to those neighborhoods. Here are five of my favorite new non-Maboneng, non-Braamfontein spots, all opened within that past several months. 1) Mad Giant/Urbanologi The Mad Giant Brewery is a huge, beautifully designed craft beer joint in the 1Fox Precinct in Ferreirasdorp. Urbanologi is a high-end, Asian-inspired tapas restaurant inside the Mad Giant premises. Outside Mad Giant. The upscale interior. Mad […]

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Corner House Capital Cafe coffeeshop ceiling

Downtown Joburg’s Newest Secret Coffeeshop

2017 Update: I’m very sad to break the news that the Capital Café has closed. Sniff. Secret coffee shops are popping up in downtown Joburg, in strange, wonderful little corners where the city is coming alive. Craft Coffee in Newtown was my favorite discovery last year. This year’s discovery is Capital Café in the center of the Joburg CBD. Capital Café. I first glimpsed Capital Café a few weeks ago on my friend Jay Jay’s Instagram feed. (Jay Jay’s feed is fantastic, by the way. You should follow him.) I have been looking for an excuse to go there ever since, and finally found one last weekend when I scheduled an Internations Coffee Time get-together there. Capital Café’s coffee is decent. The café also serves nice breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, and other light fare. But this café’s big selling point is not the food or the coffee. It’s the ceiling. Have you seen a more beautiful coffeeshop ceiling in your life? I haven’t.  Another look at the Capital Café ceiling. It looks like there was once a grand chandelier hanging from the center. One more ceiling shot. The Capital Café is in Corner House, built in 1903. The Capital Café’s location was once the main entrance of this building, which […]

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Hashi sushi ball

A Good Sushi Restaurant in Joburg

This is a quick post to inform you of a good sushi restaurant in Johannesburg. Having spent most of my life on the American east coast, where great sushi restaurants abound, I struggle to find decent sushi in Joburg. The fish is often bland and lacking in variety, there is too much mayonnaise, and the sushi rolls are uncreative. I suppose this should come as no surprise; Joburg is a land-locked city and there aren’t many Japanese people around. But similar to my quest for good Jozi Mexican food, my quest for good Jozi sushi is ongoing. I have discovered a few exceptions to the bland Joburg sushi rule, and Hashi is one of them. A Hashi sushi roll. Hashi Fusion Japanese Cuisine, on 7th Street in Linden, is an actual Japanese restaurant, rather than an Asian restaurant that threw some sushi on the menu as an afterthought. They have all kinds of crazy sushi roll combinations that I haven’t seen anywhere else before, which is a sign of a good sushi restaurant in my opinion. The fish is fresh and the sushi is well crafted. Hashi also serves sushi pizza. Sushi pizza! I wish I could remember what this dish — a […]

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Cosmopolitan outside in 2014

Joburg’s Cosmopolitan Hotel: Then and Now

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, at the corner of Commissioner and Albrecht Streets, is one of Joburg’s most legendary buildings. Built at the turn of the 20th century, the Cosmopolitan is big and Victorian, its columned, curly-cued cupola looming high above the street. The crumbling facade is strangely magical, like something from a Tim Burton film. The Cosmopolitan, once a prominent gentleman’s club, was in a state of disrepair for decades, its lower-level windows bricked up to prevent trespassing. (Read more about the Cosmopolitan’s history here.) But there have been rumblings of change for a few years, especially since the Maboneng Precinct started sprouting up around the Cosmopolitan. Now, the wait is over. The Cosmopolitan has been made over into a restaurant/retail/gallery space, and it’s officially open for business. I was lucky enough to take some photos inside the Cosmopolitan in May 2014, when a soon-to-be-stalled renovation had just begun and the place was a complete mess. I’ve been sitting on these photos for two years, waiting for the renovations to finish so I can show the before-and-after. While the renovations aren’t 100% finished yet, I can’t wait any longer. Outside the Cosmopolitan Hotel: 2014 and 2016 The front of the building looks more or less […]

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Fair lawns high tea plate

Quirky High Tea at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

It is a well known fact that I love high tea, as does the rest of Joburg. I’ve written about it a couple of times before (see here and here), and perhaps it will soon be time for a “Top Five High Teas in Joburg” post. But for now I just want to provide a quick update about an excellent high tea that I enjoyed this week at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa. My Fairlawns high tea plate, ready to be devoured. (There were several more plates to follow.) Traditional High Tea at Fairlawns As I’ve said before, I love traditional high teas. While I won’t say no to spinach mousse cups or expensive sushi on my tea table, all I really want are those cute little cucumber sandwiches, moist scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, tasty mini desserts, and of course, good tea. You would be surprised at how many upscale high tea venues in Joburg don’t prioritize these most basic requirements. I attended a very expensive high tea in which the waiter didn’t seem to know what clotted cream is, and another in which there weren’t enough scones to go around and the waitress acted surprised when […]

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Quickie Restaurant Reviews: Hell’s Kitchen and Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar

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 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 […]

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Inside Industry Bakery

Quickie Restaurant Review: Industry Bakery in Emmarentia

A few weeks ago I organized an Internations coffee gathering at Industry Bakery in Emmarentia. I had been to Industry briefly once before, but didn’t sit down to eat. This time I ordered a couple of coffees and a full breakfast, so I thought I’d give the place a quick review in 400 words or less. Inside Industry Bakery. Before this recent visit I already knew that Industry has a pleasant atmosphere (I love the industrial feel of the interior) and good coffee. But I was surprised by the interesting breakfast menu. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the menu and now I can’t find it online, so I don’t know the exact description of what I ate. But it was innovative and tasty. I wish I could remember exactly what this breakfast dish is called. It was a burrito-like wrap, which tasted sort of like a thin crumpet, with a spicy egg mixture inside.  The man sitting next to me ordered these beautiful chocolate flapjacks, which contain no sugar and are therefore “Banting-friendly”. I didn’t try them. The man said they were good but could do with a little Banting-unfriendly sweetener. Either way, I love the look and would […]

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Breakfast in the Jozi ‘Burbs: My Top Five Picks

I’ve been meaning to write a breakfast installment of my Jozi Top Five series forever. It’s a tricky one though because there are so many restaurants to choose from. Breakfast is big here and a huge percentage of Joburg restaurants open for breakfast. (On the flip side, a large percentage of Joburg restaurants are closed for dinner.) I don’t make it out for breakfast very often, as I’m hungry in the morning and usually too impatient to leave the house, go to a restaurant, place my order, and then wait for the food to be served. And when I do commit to going out for breakfast it’s usually somewhere close to home. So my list of top breakfast spots is unabashedly biased toward my own neighborhood: I’ve included picks in Melville, Milpark, Parkview, Parkwood, and Parkhurst. The list is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully helpful for those who frequent Joburg’s inner suburbs. 1) Salvation Café 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark I can’t believe I’ve never written about Salvation Café before. It was one of the first Joburg restaurants I ever ate in — I had lunch there on my maiden visit to Joburg in 2008 — and I’ve been at least 25 times since. Salvation Café is in the courtyard of Milpark’s renovated 44 Stanley complex, […]

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I Ate South Africa

Seriously. I ate it all. I’ve been all over South Africa this month — four provinces, seven cities/towns (I think), and more hotels and restaurants than I can count. I did a lot of stuff. But mostly I ate. First I spent three days at the Grootbos Nature Reserve, and in those three days alone I ate more spectacular gourmet food than I’d eaten the entire year before that. Immediately after the Grootbos trip I participated in a weeklong #MeetSouthAfrica journey in which we literally ate our way across the country. It will take me a while to tell all the stories. In the meantime, here are some shots of the food. (I apologize that these photos aren’t all up to my usual standards; most of them were shot in really low light and I was under the influence of wine.) Grootbos: Gansbaai, Western Cape Grootbos is a five-star resort on a private nature reserve southeast of Cape Town. There are many wonderful things about Grootbos but the food is the most wonderful of all. Most of the food is organically grown and locally sourced right from the Grootbos farms. A traditional English breakfast at Grootbos. So simple and yet so scrumptious. Lunch at Grootbos: […]

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