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Joburg’s new Edwardian-inspired club and cocktail bar, Gentlemen’s Arthouse in Newtown

The front entrance of Gentlemen's Arthouse.

The front entrance of Gentlemen’s Arthouse.

A new Edwardian-inspired eatery and bar is due to hit Newtown in Johannesburg at the beginning of March 2016. Gentleman’s Arthouse aims to be a private-club kind of place where guests can escape themselves to experience a kind of theatre of food, cocktails and art.

“The drinks are bit naughty – that’s how we want them to feel anyway – served in antique glasses. Even the food will be served in whatever piece of ‘antiquery’ we think is appropriate,” says the excited chef, Janelle Pieterse. She’s been working on dishes like stuffed marrow-bones, pressed springbok, a bay leaf crème anglaise, and she’s reworking the concept of assiettes. “The food is largely going to be slow-braised, a celebration of old and new Joburg, and the desserts very, very theatrical.”

Following the craft cocktail trend at high-end bars around SA, the mixologist at Gentlemen’s Arthouse is creating his own range of aromatics and tremendously exclusive cocktails. The venue’s semi-precious stone bar will also stock special and boutique wines.

Gentlemen's Arthouse surrounded by night-time Newtown

Gentlemen’s Arthouse surrounded by night-time Newtown. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

The 1911 heritage building – across the relaid brass railway tracks from Market Theatre and above the underground parking at the Newtown Junction – used to be a bathhouse, complete with water closets, but behind the absinthe-green velvet curtains lies a transformed space, with an impressive art collection including originals by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef, William Kentridge and Kendell Geers.

Maira Koutsoudakis, CEO of the Life group of companies, including the Life Grand Cafés, is the powerhouse that’s turning this brainwave into reality. “It’s fabulous and over the top; just think of something like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – and women, of course. For eccentric hipsters.”

If you manage to gate crash the opening, you had better wear a magnificently festooned top hat.

Watch this space for more details.

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