As if ushered in by December rains, the last school bell of the year rings, offices close and many a Joburger find themselves joining the great trek to the coast. While Joburg may not have the sandy beaches and ocean views of those holiday destinations, one would be remiss to think that there’s nothing to do there over the season. It’s the perfect time to explore new places, get a reservation at that restaurant you’ve been meaning to visit, and maybe even try out some of the biggest trends of the year. Here are Eat Out critic Steve Steinfeld’s picks for the places to eat, drink and be merry this December.
Helmed by the critically acclaimed chef David Higgs, this restaurant has been making waves since it opened its doors in August last year and was nominated for the 2017 Top 10. The bar, with its breathtaking views of the city, exquisitely crafted cocktails and scrumptious snacks is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Take in the sunset with a champagne-based Italian Rose cocktail or a dram of fine whisky from the extensive offering before moving into the main restaurant for an open-flame feast.
It’s been a great year for the Momo team. 2017 has seen them expand their offering with two new stores and a wider variety of Asian fusion fair. The most recent to open its doors is Norwood’s Momo &O, which serves up everything from bao and buns to poké and ramen. Try the miso ramen with flavourful dashi broth and crispy fried chicken or the beautiful and bountiful poké bowls with a choice of salmon, tuna or tofu and a variety of dressings.
Another new addition to Joburg’s dining scene is chef James Diack’s latest eatery, Il Contadino (Italian for ‘the farmer’.) It’s aptly named considering the majority of the produce used is sourced from the Diack family’s Brightside Farm. Look forward to warm, hearty and downright delicious European-style peasant food. Try the wild boar pizza baked in the wood-fired oven or one of the handmade pastas with farm-fresh toppings, complemented by a glass of wine off the stellar by-the-glass list.
If fine dining is what you’re after, treat yourself to an outstanding gourmet experience at the recently relaunched View restaurant. Up and coming chef Farrel Hirsch cut his teeth at 2017 Top 10 restaurant Greenhouse in Cape Town. As the newly appointed executive chef here he’s plating up a seriously impressive tasting menu.
This boutique chocolate shop tucked away in the trendy 44 Stanley shopping precinct remains one of Joburg’s best-kept secrets. Chocolatier Vicki Bain worked in some of Belgium’s best artisanal chocolate shops before bringing her passion back home. Enjoy a selection of gorgeous pralines and a cup of Bean There coffee (roasted right around the corner) in the chocolate lounge or just pop in for a custom-selection box set, perfect for gifting this festive season.
Antonia De Luca is an absolute pro when it comes to creating beautiful, wholesome, plant-based dishes, and this countryside café is the best place to enjoy them. Take in the abundant natural surroundings while enjoying farm-to-table vegetarian fare such as bunless beet burgers, grain-free wraps and vegan chocolate-caramel tarts.
This not-so-secret secret bar has been one of the trendiest nightlife spots of the year, and arguably one of the most exciting things to happen to Joburg’s mixology scene in ages. Find the hidden entrance and enter the prohibition-style speakeasy for an after-dinner libation or two. The inventions of head mixologist Julian Short and team really shine. Try the signature No. 9 or something off the new menu, Bonenkai, which is inspired by Japanese end-of-year parties.
The latest edition to Melrose Arch is a new hole-in-the-wall deli called Ciao! It serves up classic New-York-style deli eats such as smoked salmon bagels, rye sandwiches, build-your-own salad bowls and epic pastries. The bread and baked goods are freshly baked daily by Joburg’s crazy baker Jeffrey Zaki and his dad, Teddy, who you may know from The Sheds at 1 Fox. The spot is also about to launch a black bubble waffle, ticking all the boxes to make it an Instagram craze.
This little corner shop is the perfect place for a weekend breakfast before stocking up on some seriously good cheese for the week ahead. Sit down for a platter for two of cheese, preserves and breads to sample some of what’s on offer on the deli counter. The tabletop brims with wheels, rounds and blocks of everything from chevin and feta to boerenkaas and parmesan, so there’s certain to be something for everyone.
The guys at Patachou are baking up some of the most delicious and picture perfect patisserie, breads and cakes around. Eat in store or take your treats to go for a picnic in the park. The macarons are some of the best in town and you wouldn’t want to miss out on the le chouchou, a duo of puff and chou pastry brimming with salted-caramel pastry cream, finished with lashings of fresh cream. If Rivonia is out of the way for you, there are also stores in Parktown North, Kyalami and a counter inside Septimo Italian in Sandton City.