Eatery Jhb – Parkmore

Have you ever found yourself drawn to something without knowing very much about it? Well, that’s how I felt with Eatery JHB. I read a short review of this up and coming Joburg star in Taste magazine a few months back and my heart was truly captured. I couldn’t wait to suggest it for our next dinner club, but unfortunately we had a few places on the waiting list so Eatery was placed on the back burner.

And then it was time.

I asked the courteous question of “Where would everyone like to go” but I already knew the answer. So despite several random suggestions, I got my way (naturally) and a night at Eatery JHB was planned.

Team: 8 avid restauranteerers. To those who couldn’t make it – you seriously missed out.

Décor: I’ve mentioned before that I love the deconstructed look, and it was like Eatery had read my mind. The restaurant is a converted car workshop and has been left in its rustic state.Think bare walls with the tiles pulled off and exposed wooden roof beams.  Fabulous lighting and simple tables and chairs provide a welcome relief from the satin and suede of some of today’s pompous restaurants. Oh and the kitchen is open plan, which my nosey personality just adores.

Vibe: If you have ever been to Parkmore before, 11th Avenue to be specific, you will know that it’s basically just an avenue of restaurants. Eatery is situated just off 11th
on the corner of Victoria. Although it may miss out on the stream of traffic going past each day, I think it benefits from being a little discreet in its location. It’s a place you plan to go to for the food, not one you simply walk past or pop in to. If you’re looking for a place with loud music, big crowds and cocktails, stop reading now. If, like me, you choose a place based on the food, then please bear in mind that Eatery is only a 40-seater and you will have to book.

Service: Started off great (discreet and competent) but dwindled towards the end of the evening. Orders are taken by a manager and there is also a waiter assisting. The menu is small and concise so no real explanation was needed in that regard. Both the manager and waiter were absent when we needed to order dessert and get the bill so a bit of time was spent trying to catch their eye, but other than that there were no complaints. Note: a discretionary service charge is added to your bill – 12.5%.

Food: Everything is fresh so the menu changes often according to produce availability. There is a choice of 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts and everything is wonderfully priced. There was no beef on offer which I initially thought to be a bit disappointing but it really wasn’t missed. (The boyf didn’t even miss it and he is a die-hard beef fan).  We really tried to make sure everything on offer was sampled, but alas the team faltered.

Starters (± R40):

Lamb/Goat Flatbread. We were told that the chef had prepared a slow cooked goat and we could have this instead of lamb on our flatbread. Why not? The goat was exceptionally tender and the taste was stronger than lamb, but milder than mutton. It was served on the crispy flatbread with caramelized onion and yoghurt (tzatziki vibe). I was told that the lamb was equally delicious. STARrter of the night without a doubt (see what I did there?Oh the cleverness of me!)

Mange tout salad. The boyf was the only one who ordered the salad to start (I promised I wouldn’t make comments about the girlyness of his choice so I wont). Mange tout served with olives, orange segments and walnuts. It was a wonderful combo and something that I will definitely attempt to recreate at home.

Luderitz Oysters. I found it pretty tough to choose between the flatbread or the oysters. When we were told that there were only 3 oysters in a portion, the pig in me prevailed and I went with the flatbread. Dom ordered the oysters and I felt a twinge of jealousy when the massive beauties were placed before her. Three of the biggest Namibian oysters I have ever seen, served on ice and dressed with a little dollop of salsa. They looked amazing!

Mains (R75 –R90):

I chose the tapenade (olive pate) stuffed chicken served on rosemary tagliatelle with ratatouille. Moist, flavourful chicken packed with salty olive, you can’t really go wrong. I found the pasta a little bit dry but once I mixed it with the ratatouille it was fantastic. The portion size was fantastic as well, and although the menu offered side dishes (R15) they definitely weren’t needed.

A table favorite, and my nominee for dish of the night, was the hake and mussels served with chorizo and black beans. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt that this was on the best fish dishes I have ever tasted. The mussels were cooked to perfection – just on the border of under cook and required pretty much no chewing (great for the old folks). Hake isn’t a fish I would readily choose in a restaurant, but cooked like this – magic. Chances are it won’t be on the menu for very long so I might have to rush back to order it all for myself.

The third option was a spinach and ricotta roulade served with smoked tomato sauce. As delicious as it sounded, no one at our table ordered it so I can’t really comment. I’m sure it’s equally as tasty.

Dessert (R40 – R75 for the cheese platter):

Chocolate panna cotta or apple& thyme tart tatin. I chose the panna cotta which means the boyf had to have the tart tatin. The rest of the table also chose the above two dishes, leaving the cheese board a-begging.

I generally won’t order panna cotta. I don’t like jelly at the best of times, and I certainly don’t like jelly made of cream, but I thought I would give it a whirl. Boy, am I glad I did. Best panna cotta. Ever! It was barely set so was more a light mousse in texture but packed a massive flavour punch. It was served with Cointreau marinated strawberries – I could have eaten an entire bowl of just these.

The apples of the tart tatin were cooked until tender and they were deliciously sweet. I thought the pastry could have been a little bit thicker and crispier and I
found the sugary caramel to have a slight burnt flavour. Although apple and thyme is a great combo, it made the dish too savory in my opinion. It was tasty for sure, but no competition for the panna cotta.

Eatery Joburg will certainly assume its rightful position on my list of top Joburg restaurants and dining there as taught me several things:

  1. Keeping it simple is always best;
  2. You don’t need fancy décor or a menu as long as your arm to compete against the finest restaurants;
  3. Goat is, in fact, a delicious substitute for lamb;
  4. Don’t forget your wine at home*

[*Eatery is not licensed and told me this when I booked. I bought my wine and forgot it in the freezer. Result = spending R130 on rubbish wine from the Lebanese restaurant up the road and getting home to a shattered bottle of R30 wine.]

Eatery Jhb…. I salute you!

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Cafe del Sol – Olivedale

Café del Sol, as the name does not readily suggest, is an Italian secret tucked away in the heart of Olivedale. Blink and you will miss it.

I had personally never heard of this little gem but several restauranteerers hail from the ‘dale (or there abouts) and are avid fans of the Café. After listening to some unabashed bragging on behalf of Café del Sol we were all in agreement that it would be our next destination.

To be honest, right off the bat I had my reservations. Being of Italian descent I am highly critical of most Italian eateries. As a rule, I don’t order pasta out (no one cooks it better than my Nonna did) and I approach all Italian restaurants with a SLIGHT air of arrogance. That being said, after reading the menu online (awesome website by the by) I was eager to get stuck in and was salivating at the thought.

So, we gathered the group, booked the table and off we went. Here’s the show down:

Team: 9 restauranteerers (included in the group was a newbie so we were on our best behavior.. kind of)

Décor: Café del Sol brings new definition to the term modern chic! From the fresh white tables to the sugo (that’s pasta sauce for the non-italians out there) red touches of the open-plan kitchen, this place is absolutely beautiful. The lighting is superb, both aesthetically and functionally and ties everything together. There is nothing harsh about Café del Sol’s decor and you can literally feel the love permeating out the pale yellow walls. Bottom line, it works. It makes you feel classy without being pretentious and when the conversation gets boring you can read the quotes on the wall or day-dream about gondola rides through Venice while staring at the indoor fountain.

Vibe: Pulling into the parking lot, I had my doubts. Surely a restaurant of this magnitude couldn’t do well situated at a weird little shopping centre? How wrong I was. Café del Sol attracts a mixed bag of patrons, old and young, and was absolutely buzzing. We are an extremely loud group and our evening at Café del Sol was no exception – we weren’t asked to leave so they can clearly handle even the most hectic of diners.Whether you’re interested in a quick dinner out with the family or a rip-roaring evening with friends, you will be catered for and you will feel completely at ease.

Service: The boyf and I arrived first, 30 minutes early. Some places seem to find difficulty with this, but not Café del sol. The beautiful and welcoming hostess seated us promptly and our waitress wasn’t far behind to take our drinks order. Once the rest of the group arrived and we had quenched our alcoholic thirsts, mama was on hand to tell us about the specials and her personal recommendations. When faced with a relatively large menu this is refreshing. The wine flowed, the orders were taken competently and the food reached our table with just the right amount of speed. Café del Sol’s staff could write the book on 10 of 10 service. Well done.

Food: With regards to pricing you’re looking at starters from around R60-R75 mains range from R70 to R140 and desserts will set you back in the region of R40-R50. Average prices for a relatively fine dining establishment. The menu is large and will satisfy carnivores and veggies alike but you won’t find any pizza on offer – it wasn’t missed. Here’s a selection of what was consumed:

Starters:

 Beetroot carpaccio. Yes, BEETROOT carpaccio. Thin slices of beetroot topped with orange segments, strawberries and gorgonzola. As mentioned on more than 1 occasion, I am a meat eater and never order veggie dishes. In this case, I wish I had – was phenomenal!

 

Parma wraps: Salty parma wrapped around rocket served with artichoke hearts and strawberries. Topped with a bread stick and drizzled with pomegranate reduction. From the oohing and aaahing coming from the boyf sitting next to me, he obviously thought his dish was amazing. I tasted it. It was.

Primavera rolls: Rice pastry spring roll vibe stuffed with parma ham and smoky mozzarella. This was my dish. It was delicious but was missing a little some’ingsome’ing. The menu says it comes with a creamy white sauce. It was more of a drizzle really. I think there should have been more of it, or some sort of dipping sauce.

On special, off menu dishes included artichoke soup, deep-fried squid heads served with homemade aioli (best I’ve tasted) and tempura prawns. All of which looked equally delicious.

Mains:

I ordered the porcini chicken. Two crispy chicken breasts (served on the bone) smothered in porcini sauce on top a veggie risotto. I was forewarned by a restauranteerer who had ordered this dish before that it was incredibly rich and I should probably eat half and take the rest home. Challenge accepted. I devoured it! It was rich but boy was it delicious. Oh and the risotto was perfect – a tough feat for most restaurants.

Bacon and Brie fillet. I love bacon. I love brie. I love fillet. Unfortunately, I didn’t order it so couldn’t eat the whole lot but the tasty I had was sublime. Sauce was the perfect consistency and as strong as the brie was it didn’t overpower the all-important fillet. Bacon was bacon but unfortunately was not crispy. Served with polenta chips and veggies.

Pork Fillet. I didn’t taste this dish so Steve will provide the critique. ” Tender rolled pork fillet filled with imported parma ham, smoked mozzarella and Fontina cheese, served with roast garlic mash and a silky sage sauce – a very special take on pork fillet. The filling was incredibly tasty and you could taste all the components distinctly”

Also on order – ravioli – sauce was great but pasta was too thick in my opinion. Rack of lamb served on a bed of risotto and limoncello calamari.

I must make special mention of the marinated olives. Oh.My Goodness. Words fail me…order it!

Dessert

Home made cakes and various standard Italian desserts are on offer (panna cotta and the like). I was once again, overcome by wine, and didn’t order anything *hang my head in shame*. Will endeavor to atleast get someone at the table to try something next time.

 In addition to dinner, Café del Sol offers breakfast and lunch. I have it on good authority that it’sdefinitely worth popping in for a lunch time treat.

To quote the allegedly famous George Miller (no, I don’t know who he is either), “The trouble with eating Italian food is that 5 or 6 days later you’re hungry again”. This couldn’t be truer of Café del Sol. Not only does the food satisfy even the greatest of hungers (mine) but the service and atmosphere leave you feeling emotionally fulfilled whilst still craving more.

Bravo Café del Sol, bravo.

DW11-13 – Heaven’s Little Dining Room

We’d been hearing awesome things about this little bistro-meets fine dining spot at the arse-end of an ancient shopping centre in Dunkeld West so thought we would give it a bash.

After reading the online menu countless times I was practically salivating as we walked into what I would like to describe as “heaven’s little dining room”.  We were greeted by DW’s version of St Peter (a golden jacket clad manageress) and were shown to our table, which happened to be a huge marble slab slap bang in the middle of the room.( I’ve always enjoyed being the centre of attention so this was right up my alley).

What follows is a summary of the “game”: –

TEAM: 3 guys, 3 gals

DÉCOR: I’m one of those first impression kinda gals. You know, the judge a book by its cover sort. I was not disappointed.

DW is subtle (a neutral palette and all that jazz) but it’s clear that all that subtleness is not without thought. The chairs are comfy, which is a big plus, and the restaurant is open and airy. From our table we had a view straight into the kitchen (bar the frosted flowery glass) so we were able to get a feel for what the chefs were up to. Dinner and a show!

VIBE: The restaurant isn’t huge (booking is essential) and fills up quickly. Even with a full restaurant however, it didn’t feel stuffy and certainly wasn’t noisy.

It draws an older crowd – the prices may have something to do with that – but restauranteers of all ages will feel comfortable and welcome.Despite the upmarket décor and botoxed foreheads, the vibe is casual and relaxed.

SERVICE: Our waitress was a little over eager at first and over-looked taking everyone’s drinks order before bolting to the bar, but as the night progressed she settled down and was everything you would expect a waitress to be. She even posed for a photo. Bless J

Now on to the important stuff, FOOD:

The menu is concise but caters for everyone, veggies, chickenies and meaties. Let’s just get this out the way – this place ain’t cheap. You’re looking at starters between R60 and R100, mains from R100 to R150 and desserts are around R40 – R60. But it’s definitely, and I repeat with emphasis DEFINITELY worth every cent.

Our team ordered a range of dishes so I’ll just sum it up for you.

Starters – 

1st: Dane’s foie gras. A teeny tiny bite of pure happiness. Happiness for Dane, not so much for the duck              .

2nd: my dish, which I shared with Gary – seared scallops which were served on a pumpkin puree with porcini and crispy little bits of bacony deliciousness. Sounds crazy but works amazingly.

3rd: goes to Steve’s steak tartare on presentation alone (I say alone ‘cos I didn’t get to taste any, thanks Steve) Beautifully presented with handmade Melba toast and a little quail egg. Note: quail egg was not handmade as this would be impossible.

Mains –

Without a shadow of a doubt 1st place goes to the fillet– eaten by all 3 boys. Fillet of beef served with a bone marrow sauce and triple cooked chips. If you’re not drooling already then you’re dead.

2nd: veggie Stacey and her mushroom risotto. Hot, gooshy (firm yet runny) and packed with mushroom flavour. It’s very rare, nay unheard of, for a vegetarian dish to top a lamb dish (mine) but I humbly submit that not only did it top it, it annihilated it.

3rd: tough call. It was my rack of lamb or Dom’s roast quail with truffle mash. Tough call ‘cos those were the only other 2 dishes in the running. Will give it to Dom ‘cos her mash had truffles, and truffles are just cool.

Dessert –

1st: Chocolate tasting plate. Chocolate tart, chocolate soil, chocolate sorbet and pistachio butter. Just freaking do it.

2nd: Gary’s pineapple chili panna cotta. Served in THE cutest little jar. I hate chili, but I do love jars J light, creamy and packed with a pineapple punch.

3rd: Has to go to the ice cream and choc sauce. Note: this isn’t your mom’s crappy chocolate sauce – its Belgian chocolate and nougat sauce kiddies, served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. This trumps a cheese platter (albeit a delicious cheese platter), sorry Stace. 

Well played team, well played indeed.

On a side note – the chef at DW worked with the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsey (if you watch BBC Food then you will know how incredible this is) so it’s clear to see why the dishes come out the kitchen looking and tasting out of this world.

DW has definitely made the list of my top Joburg eateries and I would recommend this restaurant to just about everyone who like me, has an insatiable passion for food.Do yourself a favour, book a table in heavens little dining room that is DW11-13.