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restaurants

Inside Betrand in Maboneng

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Bertrand in Maboneng

Yesterday morning I was hurrying down Fox Street in Maboneng. I was in a rush but needed coffee and food. In the corner of my eye, I glimpsed wooden tables on the pavement that I hadn’t seen before. I looked up and there was Bertrand. I’d seen a few pictures of Bertrand on social media but hadn’t yet discovered its whereabouts. Here it was. The waitress tried to show me around but I only had ten minutes and sustenance was paramount. Hardly glancing at the menu, I ordered a croissant and a flat white in a take-away cup. I sat down at a sunny table near the coffee bar, drummed my fingers for a moment, then grabbed my camera. Ten-minute time limit aside, I couldn’t leave this little wonderland without documenting it. Opened for coffee. Inside Bertrand. Comfortable-looking couches I didn’t have time to sit on. The back of Bertrand. There are hundreds of charming knick-knacks inside Bertrand. I’m not sure what this one is or why my eye settled on it.  As I shot my pictures, a charming man in sneakers and sunglasses walked past. “Good morning,” the man said in a charming French accent. “Have you tried our croissants?” I […]

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Pizza from Ben's Pizza in Marshalltown

August Restaurant of the Month: Ben’s Pizza in Marshalltown

There’s a brick oven pizza restaurant in downtown Joburg and it’s open on Saturdays. It’s called Ben’s Pizza and it’s delicious. Ben’s Pizza. Really, this is all you need to know. It’s not easy to find decent restaurants in the Joburg CBD. And Ben’s is more than a decent restaurant. It feels almost exactly like a New York City pizzeria, right down to the red-and-white checked tablecloths. The sign off to the side reads: “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy pizza and that’s kind of the same thing.” Although it’s not visible in the photo, Ben’s has a brick pizza oven behind the counter. I went to Ben’s on a Saturday evening with my friend Koketso. We split the Brigadier pizza, which has bacon, spicy chicken, and salami, and paired it with bottles of a Belgian cherry beer called Liefman’s. It was perfect. (Ben’s also serves pasta, burgers, calzones, and some other dishes. But I can’t imagine going there and not having pizza.) While we were eating, Ben himself walked in wearing an Old Navy t-shirt with an American flag on it. There couldn’t be a more quintessential New York pizzeria owner. Don’t ask me why I didn’t take his […]

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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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Pigs at Brightside Farm

Brightside Farm: Where Joburg’s Best Food Comes From

Every once in a while, my work affords me an opportunity to do something really incredible that I would never be able to do otherwise and makes me feel grateful to be alive. Visiting Brightside Farm was one such opportunity. Janet Diack, owner and operator of Brightside Farm, holds up a baby wild boar. Brightside Farm is in Magaliesburg, about an hour away from Joburg. The farm is owned by the Diack family. James Diack is a chef and runs four Joburg restaurants: Coobs in Parkhurst, the National in Parktown North (which I wrote about briefly here), Il Contadino in Parktown North, and the Federal in Melville (which is currently closed but opening again shortly with a new name and concept). James’ mother, Janet, runs Brightside Farm, which supplies James’ restaurants with the majority of their food. Brightside Farm is paradise, for people and for animals. Yes, many of these animals eventually become food in a restaurant. But before that happens, I can’t imagine a better place on earth for an animal to spend its life. (Incidentally, Janet is a vegetarian.) Free-range pigs at Brightside Farm. Brightside is also paradise for plants. There are all kinds of interesting vegetables and […]

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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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Papy at Urban Zulu

10 Really Cool Jozi Places I Didn’t Blog About in 2017

I blogged about a lot of Jozi places in 2017. But there are also a lot of places I visited but never managed to write up, for one reason or another. Lots of these places are really cool and I don’t want their photos to languish forever in my Lightroom catalog. Also, I want you to visit them. So here is a quick rundown of the 10 best places I never blogged about in 2017. Jozi Places I Should Have Blogged About in 2017 1) Urban Backpackers/Kafe Noir (Joburg CBD) Urban Backpackers is a youth hostel smack in the middle of the Joburg CBD, at 98 Anderson Street. The ground floor of Urban Backpackers is Kafe Noir, a funky coffeeshop. The rooftop is a bar and party venue. Chilling on the rooftop of Urban Backpackers after the Hi-Tec #WalkMyCity event. (Photo: Fiver Löcker) Urban Backpackers is owned by Papy Nakuw, a fashion designer who also owns the Urban Zulu clothing label. Papy is impossibly cool. His design workshop is just across the street. Papy at Urban Backpackers. I like the Urban Backpackers because it’s an unexpected place in an unexpected location. Kafe Noir and the rooftop are generally open to the public but […]

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Heather with bagels

#Gauteng52, Week 52: Bagels and More From Feigel’s

Welcome to Week 52 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week — the final week! — I visit Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen, with locations in Glenhazel and Lyndhurst. For the last couple of weeks I’d been wracking my brain, trying to think of somewhere special to go for the 52nd week of my #Gauteng52 challenge. I wanted it to be a place in Joburg with an interesting story and some kind of personal significance for me. In a post last week I mentioned the tasty bagel I had for breakfast at the Immigrant, and lamented that bagels are hard to find in Joburg. A reader named Colleen commented and tipped me off to Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen. The old-school Feigel’s sign outside the shop in Glenhazel. I immediately knew Feigel’s would be my final #Gauteng52 post. Feigel’s sells bagels, of course, and the bagels are delicious. But there’s a lot more to the story. Here’s the short version: Feigel was a Lithuanian girl who moved to South Africa in the 1920s. Years later in 1968, Feigel and her two children, Patsy and Jos, rented a shop on […]

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Lettuce growing at Culinary Table

#Gauteng52, Week 49: Culinary Table in Lanseria

Welcome to Week 49 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Culinary Table in Lanseria. It’s a lesser known fact that Johannesburg has not one, but two major airports. O.R. Tambo International Airport, the huge one everyone knows about, is about 30 kilometers east of central Joburg, give or take. I’ve always considered Lanseria International Airport, the smaller of the two, to be much further away. Hence I never went there. But a few months ago, when I accidentally booked a flight out of Lanseria instead of O.R. Tambo, I realized Lanseria is virtually the exact same distance (33 km) from my house. It’s also a considerably more pleasant drive. Best of all, I’ve just discovered there’s an amazing restaurant virtually next door to Lanseria airport: The Culinary Table. The kitchen garden at the Culinary Table. The restaurant is in the background. The Culinary Table has an interesting story. The restaurant is attached to the Culinary Equipment Company, a large warehouse and showroom just off Route 512. Chef Daniela Gutstadt’s family owns the Culinary Equipment Company, and Daniela initially started out […]

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Inside the Richmond

#Gauteng52, Week 48: The Richmond Studio Café

Welcome to Week 48 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Richmond Studio Café, a new coffeeshop in Richmond. Every now and again I visit a new place in Joburg and get so freaking excited I literally cannot wait to blog about it. Such was the case on Tuesday, when I went to the Richmond Studio Café. Entrance to the Richmond Studio Café. Richmond is a suburb just south of Melville. It’s one of those tiny Jozi suburbs — just a few square blocks — that most Joburgers outside the immediate area probably haven’t heard of. But Richmond has a special caché, despite its modest size. Several national and international news agencies — CNN, Media24, SABC, etc. — are based in or immediately surrounding the suburb, so Richmond has always been a central hangout for the South African media. It has a buzzy, journalisty vibe that I’m fond of. When I first moved to Joburg there was a legendary bar in Richmond called the Bohemian. But the Bohemian closed and moved to Westdene in 2012. Richmond used to have a […]

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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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Salmon sushi at La Marina

#Gauteng52, Week 41: Fresh Fish at La Marina Foods

Welcome to Week 41 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit La Marina Foods, a fish and specialty food supplier in Modderfontein. Marie-Lais and I drove into a bland office park in Modderfontein. We blew right past La Marina Foods the first time, asked directions twice, and eventually made our way to an imposing metal gate. Is this place really open to the public? I thought. It looks very warehouse-like from the outside. But the security guard opened up for us. We parked, stepped inside, and found ourselves in a culinary dream world. The La Marina deli. La Marina is first and foremost a food supplier — mostly seafood — supplying restaurants and hotels all over Joburg and South Africa. If you live in Joburg you’ve probably driven past many La Marina delivery trucks without noticing. But La Marina also has a retail shop and deli, again mostly seafood, but also selling cheese, meat, and exotic packaged foods from all over the world. The food at La Marina made me really, really happy. Kirsten Jooste, owner of La Marina, in front of […]

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