A year or two ago there were no Indian restaurants in Melville. This was a sad state of affairs, as quick, tasty, affordable Indian food is a staple in the average South African diet. Sure, Fordsburg is just 10 minutes away from Melville and all the best Indian food in town is there. But it just wasn’t the same as having an Indian joint right in my own neighborhood. But life has recently improved for curry-craving Melvillians; we now have not one, but two Indian restaurants within our boundaries. I’ve recently eaten at both of them so I thought I’d do a quick double review. 1) Bismillah If you’ve ever eaten in Fordsburg then you probably know Bismillah, a Pakistani/Indian restaurant with three different locations on Fordsburg’s Mint Road and another location in Lenasia. But you probably don’t know that Bismillah has now expanded beyond the confines of Joburg’s traditionally Indian neighborhoods, opening a restaurant on Melville’s Main Road last month. The new Melville Bismillah, in a rather odd location at the corner of Main Road and St. Swithans Avenue. As soon as I heard the news, I descended upon the new Bismillah with several friends and wrote a review for JHBLive.com. You can read my […]
I’ve had the privilege of eating at a lot of nice Joburg restaurants over the years, especially around Melville and the northern suburbs. For some reason, I’ve found that the best restaurants tend to be the ones that are trickiest to find. The best restaurants also tend to put little focus on publicizing themselves (or simply don’t know how to), and hence not many people know about them. For the past few weeks I’ve had a list of romantic, hidden Jozi restaurants bumping around in my head. Here are my top five favorites. (I like to present my lists in fives.) 1) Eatery JHB Corner 11th Street and Victoria Avenue, Sandton I’ve written about Eatery JHB before, but I’d like to reiterate that this is one of the best restaurants in Sandton and way better than anything you can find at Nelson Mandela Square, which is only five minutes away. Eatery JHB is hard to find because it’s around the corner from the other restaurants on 11th Street, in a rather dark spot on Victoria Avenue. If you don’t see it right away, just walk a few steps further. You won’t be disappointed. I love the unpretentious atmosphere as much as I love the […]
Most of you probably know about the JoziPizzaWars by now but if you don’t, read here. The war rages on. Today’s post includes reviews of four diverse pizzerias. My co-conspirator Tim reviewed most of these places in his first JoziPizzaWars post, so check that out if you’d like to compare our opinions. Here we go: 86 Public The Grove, Melle and Juta Streets, Braamfontein 86 Public is, as far as I know, the only legit pizza place in trendy Braamfontein. It’s in a good location, off a courtyard in a popular student square called the Grove. 86 Public offers crazy topping combinations — bacon, dark chocolate, feta, and pear is just one example — sized medium or large, ranging in price from R60 ($5.00) to R100 ($8.50). The prices are comparatively high but you’re paying for the nice location and atmosphere. 86 Public’s pizza crust is light and crispy and I love the variety of toppings. But I think the sauce could use a few more herbs and spices. The veggie pizza I ordered was a bit bland, especially later on when eaten cold. On a positive note, 86 Public has good, free wifi and plays great music. Ratings: Base/crust: 4 Flavor/sauce: 2.5 Cold factor: 3 Atmosphere/service: 5 Overall rating: 14.5/20 I really […]
Just before Christmas, my food-blogger friend Tim and I started a blog series called Jozi Pizza Wars. Our goal is to try as many of Joburg’s independently owned pizza places (no big franchises) as possible and rate them on a variety of factors. Eventually we’ll compile our scores and come up with a list of the ten best pizzas in Jozi. I reviewed five pizza places in Episode 1, but for Episode 2 I’ve managed only two reviews. A girl can only eat so much pizza, you know? But the two places I’m reviewing today are important, as I’ve eaten at both of them countless times and they are popular spots in their respective neighborhoods. Café Picobella Trattoria 66 4th Avenue, Melville Picobella was a must-review for me because I eat there so often; it’s within walking distance of my house. Picobella is great to have in the neighborhood because of its opening hours — breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 356 days a year (including Christmas!). Along with the Ant and YOLO, which I reviewed previously, Picobella has some of the most popular pizza (as well as pasta and other dishes) in Melville. Picobella happens to be on Melville’s prettiest street corner, and […]
Just before the holidays, JHBlive.com asked me to do a review of Kaldi’s Coffee in Newtown. (Read the JHBlive review here.) I’m really glad I did that review, because I’ve been overlooking Kaldi’s for years and now I know that it’s one of Newtown’s gems. I enjoyed Kaldi’s so much that I’m posting my JHBlive review here too. Enjoy: I must have walked past Kaldi’s Coffee at least 100 times before going in. I was under the impression that it was just another Joburg coffee shop, and my list of favorite Joburg coffee shops is already far too long thanks to the saturation in Braamfontein. But oh, how wrong I was about Kaldi’s. Kaldi’s unassuming entrance. Kaldi’s Coffee was founded eight years ago by an Ethiopian guy named – you guessed it – Kaldi. An Ethiopian coffee house/sandwich takeaway shop in the middle of Newtown (right across Mary Fitzgerald Square from Museum Africa) is an interesting concept in itself, but the story gets better. Two years ago, Kaldi’s Coffee was purchased by South African vegan Mmabatho Mokwena and her husband. Mmabatho kept the old Kaldi’s coffee and sandwich menu – “South African” and “vegan” are two words that don’t appear […]
I used to believed that America had the best pizza in the world and I wouldn’t find good pizza in South Africa. That was nonsense. Johannesburg is a legit pizza town and the world should know this. I’ve come to love pizza more in South Africa than I did in America. South African pizza is less about the crust, which is usually ultra-thin, and more about the toppings, which are fresher, more plentiful, and more diverse than those on the average American pizza. South African pizza always comes with ramekins of grated parmesan, garlic, and chiles — so much better than those powdered cheese and dried red pepper shakers in America. Avocado is a common pizza topping here. See the ramekins of garlic and chile in the background? American pizzerias need those. I’ve been meaning to write about Jozi pizza for a while (my last pizza post was almost four years ago), but I’ve been caught up in the enormity of the task. There are so many good pizza places around Joburg. I don’t know how to choose which restaurants to write about or how to assess them objectively. Plus, one person can only eat so much pizza. I decided that finding the best pizza in Joburg […]
About two years ago I wrote a post called The Best Croissant in Jozi, about a quaint restaurant called Amamus Café in Parktown North. Sadly, Amamus closed a year or so ago. For some time I’ve been meaning to write a post about my new favorite croissant in Jozi — from French Corner Bakery and Coffee in Bryanston. (Actually the French Corner isn’t new — it’s been around for 14 years. But French Corner’s croissants were new to me when I discovered the bakery earlier this year while doing research for SandtonPlaces.) I just wrote a review of the French Corner for JHBLive.com and thought I’d share it on my blog too. By the way, JHBLive is one of the best local websites for finding quirky things to do in Joburg. I write for JHBLive often and I also read the weekly newsletter religiously. Check it out: www.jhblive.com. Anyway, here’s my JHBLive review of the French Corner. Enjoy: French Corner Bakery and Coffee is the closest thing to Paris in Joburg. Never mind that the “corner” is not on a Parisian boulevard, but rather in a Bryanston strip mall called the Cramerview Village Centre. Never mind that the French Corner’s airy windows look out onto a parking lot and a busy Total […]
Most of you probably remember my recent post about the Random Hot Pot Place in Parkmore. That post taught me a lesson. I published it on a whim, without learning all the facts about the place I was writing about. To my surprise, the post spread quickly on social media and raised confusion about what the Random Hot Pot Place is, where it’s located, etc. I’m afraid I might have led a few hungry people astray. Sometimes I forget that people actually read this blog and expect me to know what I’m talking about. Anyway, after publishing that post I was asked to write a story about the Random Hot Pot Place for JHBLive. This was a perfect excuse to return to Parkmore and get my facts straight. Here is what I learned: 1) The actual name of the Random Hot Pot Place is Shanghai Hinabe. The sign above the door is in Chinese, but there is an English sign on the overhang facing the street. I researched the word “Hinabe” and discovered that it’s a Japanese word, roughly translated as “fire hot pot”. The exterior of Shanghai Hinabe. 2) The exact location of Shanghai Hinabe is 130 11th Street, Parkmore. Contrary to my initial instructions, it is four […]
2016 Update: five hundred closed last year, when chef David Higgs moved on to another Jozi restaurant project. I have yet to eat at Higgs’ new restaurant or at the new restaurant at the Saxon, Luke Dale Roberts X. A lot of wonderful things have happened to me because of this blog. I’ve been to amazing places and met countless fantastic people. But one of the greatest 2Summers miracles of all time happened last week, when a generous benefactor (who asked to remain anonymous) made it possible for my boyfriend and me to have dinner at five hundred. I’ve done a fair amount of fine dining in my life but I’ve never been to a restaurant quite like five hundred. A restaurant like this would be out of reach for me in Paris or New York or San Francisco. Fortunately I live in Johannesburg, where blogging magic happens. Five hundred was rated the number two restaurant in South Africa (after the Test Kitchen in Cape Town) at the 2013 Eat Out Restaurant Awards, and five hundred Executive Chef David Higgs was the 2013 Eat Out Chef of the Year. The restaurant is hidden within the ultra-luxurious Saxon Hotel, where Bill Clinton stayed and Nelson Mandela once lived while writing Long […]
October 2016 update: The old Westcliff Hotel, now the Four Seasons, reopened and briefly resumed its high tea offering, before stopping it again. What a bummer. A few of you expressed surprise at my last post about the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Apparently y’all didn’t realize that I am a cultured young lady. (That’s right, I’m cultured. And young.) If you were surprised to learn that I enjoy classical music, you’ll also be surprised that I love high tea. Ever since my first afternoon tea — with my mother at London’s Fortnum & Mason Department Store in 1994 — I’ve been enthralled by the ritual of drinking from delicate china cups, nibbling cucumber sandwiches, and gorging on fresh scones with clotted cream and bite-sized desserts. The cucumber sandwich. So simple and yet so delicious.
Mexican/Latin-American food is one of the things I’ve missed most in South Africa. There are a couple of Mexican restaurants in Joburg, including one in Melville called Café Mexicho. (Read my reviews of that establishment — which I now think were overly generous — here and here.) But Mexican food in this town tends to be mediocre. It’s to be expected. My home country is filled with great Latin American food, but that is because it’s also filled with great Latin American people. Quality Latin American ingredients are available in every U.S. grocery store. In South Africa, on the other hand, I haven’t met a single Mexican. And unless you know how to make your own corn tortillas and salsa, you aren’t going to find anything decent here.
It’s interesting that I chose this particular time to return to America. Summer is drawing to an end here, while it’s just heating up back in Joburg. It’s around the same time of year that I moved to Joburg in the first place, which is how my blog got its name. I woke up this morning — back in Washington D.C., crashing on Bob’s and Tim’s air mattress — feeling not only between seasons, but also between continents and lives. For the first time since my trip began, I had no particular plans. I kept today open on purpose, thinking I might need a break from the errands and family time and socializing. But the gap in my schedule made me anxious and depressed.