Reports suggest there are approximately 8.1 million restaurants and cafes in 103 countries worldwide. 15 000 of these restaurants are within Johannesburg’s borders alone. Many of these establishments have been crafted to suit the tastes of the discerning population – essentially meaning grandiose interiors and sophisticated plates dotted with dazzling colours and delicate textures. However, hidden between soaring buildings and bustling crowds in the chicSandton area are a number of enchanting restaurants which deviate from the norm and swap white cotton cloth for something a bit more offbeat. Some of these alternative dining experiences include:
Fresh @ Hands on Retreat
Encompassing this al fresco (weather permitting) coffee shop is an ever-green garden humming with red bishops, kingfishers and a myriad of insects and garden dwellers. A symphony of chirruping birds dashing in and out of whistling willows permeates the air as glittering reflections from a river dance languidly off the warm wooden veranda. For a fleeting moment, you forget about the concrete metropolis trembling just a few kilometres away, and a profound desire to reconnect with nature consumes you.
Healthy eating habits and ethical farming methods are embraced, ensuring every ingredient used in the dishes are organic or sourced from free-range suppliers. Operating hours are from 07h00 until 16h30 from Sunday to Thursday, and 08h00 to 23h00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Along with breakfast and lunch, they also offer delectable high teas for up to six people, three course dinners on Friday, romantic four course dinners on Saturday and charming picnic baskets.
What makes it so great – the location
This Tudor style restaurant was established in 1980, with the intentions of offering sophisticated, French influenced dishes in an authentic old-world setting. Exquisite décor adorns the walls and surfaces, while damask table cloths decorated with glinting silverware and sparkling crystal hang gracefully off quaint wooden tables. Each item on the French menu offers remarkable flavours, and is expertly prepared and carefully plated, ensuring each patron is presented with a flawless meal which will leave them gushing for years to come. Some of the French influenced options on the menu include:
- Gin flamed and garnished with lychees
- Braised duckling off the bone smothered in a creamy green peppercorn sauce
- Dill infused olive oil poached mussels in white wine, garlic and tarragon served with sundried tomatoes, shallot, celery and olives
- Guinea fowl, hare and kudu casserole prepared and served in a wild mushroom and game sauce with couscous
What makes it so great – the food & décor
Winnies Soul & Jazz Restaurant
Soul infused dishes, decadent décor and smooth jazz is what this charming restaurant and bar is all about. While the skilled chef prepares sensationally flavoured meals which are destined to send tingles of delight through taste buds, guests relax back into their chairs and allow the smooth sounds of musicians like McCoy Mrubata and Thandi Ntuli to overwhelm their senses while sipping on resplendent cocktails and exchanging animated conversation with thematically clad waiters.
What makes this newly opened establishment is the music. Winnie’s prides itself on offering the best musical showcases of local talent, and this is evident in their weekly events. These include jam sessions on Wednesdays, easy listening music on Thursdays and live shows on Fridays. Rounding off this one of a kind establishment is an impressive menu ranging from jazzed up beef Carpaccio and roasted beetroot to BBQ prawns and Oxtail.
What makes it so great – the music
Dining at this Mediterranean / Continental bistro can only be described as a wildly interesting visual spectacle. Every inch of the smooth pastel walls are plastered with picture frames and a strange collection of nautical, air travel and drink memorabilia. Beautiful chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and an eclectic mix of helms, bells (including Alpine cow bells) and porcelain laze on dressers. Even more strange is the giant horn toilet roll holder in the bathroom.
While you enjoy the European country style ambiance, the chef du patron glides intermittently through the restaurant, chatting to guests and sipping on a pinot noir. The menu comprises of a broad selection of homemade sauces, exotic fish, oven baked pizza and continental meat. And as is expected, meals are served on an odd assemblage of dishes, pots and plates.
What makes it so great – the décor and atmosphere