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The great onion ring round-up

Onion ring purists might argue that the perfect golden side is battered, golden and puffy, or maybe you’re a fan of the thinner, lightly dusted version. On our hunt for the best, we’ve found that whether they’re thick-sliced or skinny, flour-dredged or beer-battered, the key is in the golden colour and the all-important crunch. Here’s where to find the best scattering of golden onion rings in your city, from blooming onions to giant puffed-up rings.

A burger with potato wedges. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A burger with onion rings at Hudson’s Burger Joint. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

National

Spur

This list would be incomplete without mentioning what was probably everyone’s first onion-ring experience. Thinly sliced, dusted with seasoned flour and quickly deep fried, these onion ring are trademarks, along with spare ribs and surf and turf meals.

T Bone steak and sides served at Spur

A T-bone, onion rings and chips from Spur. Photo supplied.

Johannesburg

The Butcher Shop and Grill (Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton)

These very crunchy slightly puffed onion rings are well-loved by patrons; you see them on almost every table. The manager says the secret is keeping their preparation simple: The onions are cut very thin, lightly coated in flour and plunged into hot oil. R31 per portion.

The interior at The Butcher Shop & Grill in Sandton. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at The Butcher Shop & Grill in Sandton. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Coobs (Parkhurst)

These perfectly puffed onion rings with a deep and interesting flavour are created by chef James Diack. He uses farm-crisp white onions, cut thick and dipped into a batter of cake flour and Darling Thunderbird IPA (which gives that fruity-beer flavour people can’t quite put their finger on), plus thyme, sage and black pepper. Then the rings go into oil for puffing up. They can be eagerly gobbled for R25.

The Countess (Melville)

Super crisp with a deliciously textured crunch, these are made with white onion. Chef Gregg Abell says the first secret is cutting them thicker than usual, then soaking them in buttermilk with celery salt, cayenne and smoked paprika, dusting them with flour and smoked chilli flakes, then frying them fresh for each table. R22 for a side dish of onion rings with one of the homemade sauces for dipping.

Craft (Parkhurst)

Craft gives fond attention to anything they do and this includes the blooming fried onions. They are not exactly rings: the principle is the same, but the effect is more stunning. Whole onions are cut on the vertical to produce a bloom effect, are dusted in special Craft seasoning and carefully deep fried for the stunning golden colour. R25 for a side dish.

A blooming onion from Craft. Photo supplied.

A blooming onion from Craft. Photo supplied.

Gourmet Garage (Montecasino)

These onion rings are amazingly moreish. They’re very finely cut, just a millimetre thick, doused in milk and then dusted with flour and deep fried. You get them with every beef burger order or can ask for them as a side for R24.

Hudson’s The Burger Joint (Parkhurst)

They don’t like to give away the secret to their very good onion rings, which come beer-battered or dusted. The former are beautifully puffed, crisp and golden-brown, while the latter are softer and spicier. Both kinds are available as sides for R16 each.

The outside area at Hudson's in Parkhurst. Photo supplied.

The outside area at Hudson’s in Parkhurst. Photo supplied.

LBV Bistro & Wine Bar (Cramerview)

Chef Jacques van der Merwe has perfected the aeration and the balance between sweet and salty in these crunchy rings. The batter is freshly made every time there’s an order, and blended with his own mix of parsley, Maldon salt, and homemade veg-stock spice mix to give a savoury flavour to match the onions’ natural sweetness. After the initial slicing, the onions are sweated in the oven for a few minutes to soften them and lessen their moisture, before being dipped and fried. They’re available with some burgers and as a side for R23.

The Meat Company (Montecasino)

Sliced thinly and covered with lightly seasoned flour, these delicate and deliciously crunchy onion rings are a delicious accompaniment to the restaurant’s unapologetically carnivorous menu. (You might want to save this one for date night if you’re on a budget.)

The Steamworks Gastropub (Fourways)

Here the rings are made with red onions for greater natural sweetness. Chef Thom Hughes says they’re cut right before dredging, and are dunked in an ice-cold batter that includes both lager and soda for lightness, before going into hot oil to produce the lightest, puffiest beauties you can imagine. They arrive atop the rather different Greek salad or as a side for R25.

The bar at The Steamworks Gastro Pub. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The bar at The Steamworks Gastro Pub. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Thundergun (Blackheath)

This retro spot places emphasis on 70s-style steaks, but the cowboy vibe is quite charming. Crispy and battered, with a sweetly caramelised brown colour, these slightly different rings have a satisfying texture. They don’t appear as sides, but you can enjoy them with steaks and ribs.

Turn ’n Tender (Parktown North)

Thin, sticky and crisp, these onion rings stand for a bit after being floured for the flavours to develop. After a brief first deep fry, they go back again for a second gilding that make the fans very happy. Order them as a side for R26.

The Wolfpack (Parkhurst)

Parkhurst has to be the onion-ring mecca of Joburg and these wasabi onion rings pack a punch. They accompany all the burgers, but it’s fun to order them as a side with Japanese mayo made with ginger and wasabi for R18.

Pretoria

Capital Craft (Menlo Park)

The home to the largest selection of hand-crafted beer in Pretoria is also known for its out-of-this-world onion rings. Chef Bradley Martins is the epitome of a kitchen bad boy and is deeply passionate about pub-style food. His trademark onion-ring batter boasts black sesame seeds, stone-ground flour and celery salt. Always served piping hot and perfectly seasoned, these are a vital addition to a smokehouse meal here. R18 per portion.

A burger onion rings and chips at Capital Craft. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A burger onion rings and chips at Capital Craft. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Lucky Rodrigo (Lynnwood)

Here piles of tempura-style battered onion rings are served in rickety old pans. Light as air and beautifully golden, they will disappear quickly, but the enormous serving is only R15, so just order another. Lucky’s is also popular for its fast-growing selection of craft beer and jalapeño-cheese spring rolls.

Tribeca (Brooklyn Mall)

This buzzing alfresco eatery serves delicious meals to business people and students alike, with an extensive menu and impressive prices. The onion rings are panko crumbed and deep fried to a beautiful deep golden brown with a loud crunch. They arrive neatly piled up in a small bowl for R28. (Try them with the gargantuan Moo & Oink burger, which comprises a 200g grilled beef patty and deliciously smoky barbecue pulled pork.)

Durban and surrounds

Flavour Café (Pietermaritzburg)

Famous for over-the-top milkshakes, this garden eatery never fails to impress with its burger selection. The gourmet buns come in three options, but all are served with a side of huge battered, golden and gloriously puffy onion rings. Go for the Mexican burger with bacon, mozzarella, spicy guacamole and a topping of large, sweet and crunchy rings (R90).

Little Havana (Umhlanga Rocks)

White tablecloths and classy décor create an inviting feel in this popular steakhouse. Alongside the brilliant meat selection, the menu offers a portion of Durban-style onion rings. The generous portion of rings is battered and deep fried until slightly puffy with a nice bite of pepper for R20.

Mr. Browns (Umhlanga Rocks)

Home to American-style barbecue cooking and flavoursome smoked food, Mr. Browns is a go-to for classic onion rings. The batter on these beauties is incredibly light and creates a great crunch and pale-golden hue. Add yours as an extra to one of their wraps, wings or burgers for R15 or order a Bucket o’ Meat box which includes your choice of meat, onion rings and fries.

The interior at Mr Browns. Photo supplied.

The interior at Mr Browns. Photo supplied.

Republik (Durban North)

If it’s golden battered onion rings you’re after, get your fix here with the Dive Burger. Inspired by a truck-stop burger, it comprises a 220g beef patty on a toasted panini, topped with cheddar, gherkins, bacon, aioli and rocket.

Pop-Up Society (Glenwood)

This funky milkshake and burger spot serves up some pretty delicious sides. Its golden rings are fried in a light beer batter that lends a satisfying crunch to the sweet onions. Ask for yours with a gourmet burger or dive straight into the snack board, which comes laden with chicken and fish goujons, beef kebabs, battered onion rings and skinny fries with your choice of sauce (R75 for two people, R130 for four).

Cape Town

Belthazar (V&A Waterfront)

Known for its great grills and seafood and spectacular wine selection, Belthazar serves a popular onion blossom starter. This signature dish is comprised of a giant white onion that is cut to form a flower shape before being seasoned, crumbed and deep-fried to deliver an impressively crunchy bloom (R70).

Café Manhattan (De Waterkant)

Head to this popular diner for steaks, burgers and great onion rings, which are made with thin slices of red onion which are lightly floured and fried until crunchy. Enjoy yours as a part of the snack platter alongside veggie spring rolls, chicken wings, ribs and fries, or have them with one of the meaty burgers like the Big Boy Brie with brie cheese and black onion jam. The rings can also be ordered as a side for R25 per portion.

The interior at Café Manhattan. Photo supplied.

The interior at Café Manhattan. Photo supplied.

Dale’s Black Angus (Milnerton)

This grillhouse serves its onion rings in a mound of golden spirals as a side to one of the meaty options. It also does a golden, crunchy blooming onion that’s great to share as an accompaniment or starter. Shaped like a protea, it’s covered in a light, crispy batter and fried before being served with tomato concasse and sour cream (R35).

The Eatery Wood Fired Grill (Claremont)

Steaks and burgers are the name of the game at this popular southern suburbs grill. Here the buttermilk-battered onion rings are a deep golden colour and a little rough around the edges for that extra crunch. Order them as a side portion for R28 with the Argentinean sirloin steak with chimichurri sauce.

Hudson’s The Burger Joint (Claremont, Gardens and Green Point)

Like the burgers, milkshakes and cocktails, the onion rings at this burger joint are extra large. They can be ordered battered and puffy or lightly dusted. If you want yours on top of your burger, order the Original Royale, a beef patty, topped with bacon, cheddar, chilli and battered onion rings (R76). Also try the battered jalapeños.

A burger with onion rings at Hudson's. Photo supplied.

A burger with onion rings at Hudson’s. Photo supplied.

Jerry’s Burger Bar (Blouberg, Gardens, Observatory and Willowbridge)

This trendy burger spot has quite a following for its meaty creations and onion rings. These legendary rings are beer battered, deep fried and served with blue cheese and chipotle dips. Get a large portion of them for R44. Alternatively, order a side portion to pair with your favourite burger.

Winelands and surrounds

B’s Steakhouse (Hermanus)

This no-frills restaurant is loved by locals for excellent steakhouse fare. Try the Ultimate Onion, a whole deep-fried onion filled with cream cheese and accompanied by a sweet-chilli sauce (R59). It’s a great side to share or have as a sneaky starter before tucking into your choice of meat.

Hudson’s The Burger Joint (Stellenbosch)

Like the burgers, milkshakes and cocktails, the onion rings at this burger joint are extra large. They can be ordered battered and puffy or lightly dusted. If you want yours on top of your burger, order the Original Royale, a beef patty, topped with bacon, cheddar, chilli and battered onion rings (R76). Also try the battered jalapeños.

Lightly dusted onion rings at Hudson's. Photo supplied.

Lightly dusted onion rings at Hudson’s. Photo supplied.

The Hussar Grill (Stellenbosch)

If it’s perfect old-school steaks that you’re after, this stalwart steakhouse is the place. Alongside signature rumps, fillets and sirloin, the handsome restaurant offers an array of accompaniments. The onion rings are served lightly crumbed and deep fried, with a slightly soft and sweet centre. The portions are generous and cost R30.

Kalfi’s (Franschhoek)

All hearty mains at this cosy family-friendly spot are served with chips or potato skins with onion rings or veggies. Rustic and golden, the rings are coated in a light dusting of seasoned flour and fried. Order the cheese burger and receive a glorious mountain of both rings and chips for R75.90.

Who serves your favourite golden onion rings? Tell us about your discoveries in the comments below.

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