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Melville seems to have become Joburg’s go-to for weekend brunches, with a wide range of interesting places offering delicious more-than-breakfasts and not-quite-lunches from which to choose. Melville is also full of guesthouses, so there are people from all continents out on the sunny pavements, especially over weekends. Here is Eat Out critic Marie-Lais Emond’s guide to the musts of the many brunch spots in Melville.
This is the friendliest spot in town with the most international visitors. The croissants and breads are freshly baked, filling the air with warm and welcoming smells. It’s a family business, run by Julia Sestiere from France and her partner, Ishmael Kapula. Find a seat on the pavement with the locals or in the double-level restaurant with its great book collection. The brunch food is a cut above the rest, with really good ingredients like pancetta, home-made sauces and great cheeses. There are 16 all-day breakfast or brunch choices, including excellent French-style omelettes; fantastic frittatas with pancetta, chorizo, chilli and spiced cocktail tomatoes; and brilliant pancakes. Don’t forget the baguettes, topped with the likes of poached eggs with spinach and pancetta under a lovely cheese sauce (here called a Juliette), and croissants under a soft salmon scramble. The latter are so good, you might have them solo or with rich chocolate sauce, pain au chocolat style. Fresh produce from the big fruit bowl is squeezed for juice and mixed with herbs and ginger. The coffee is good, too.
This is the ideal spot for families with little children, who can entertain themselves outside on the playground or in the dress-up shop, IT play centre, or library. Deserving parents are invited to have a glass of something with their brunches, while qualified personnel look after their offspring. Fans of this venue come for the wide variety of breakfasts, some vegetarian and vegan. The Jozi avo scramble is a winner, with elegant additions of balsamic reduction, pumpkin seeds, rocket, feta and bread. The soft-boiled eggs are scrumptious, with dippers of asparagus and bacon, as is the dish called 4th Avenue, which features poached eggs, goat’s cream cheese, smoked salmon and rocket with a perfect bagel. The kids can also have their breakfasts at the table, feasting on favourites like eggs, sausages and bacon or croissant sandwiches.
Casual brunches are the order of the day under the white umbrellas on the patio overlooking 4th Avenue. You do, however, need to order before 12. The recommended breakfast burger is made with great ground beef and served on a homemade brioche bun with bacon, smoked cheese and two eggs. The waffle breakfast features a giant Belgian version filled with bacon, cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, two eggs done in any style, and a choice of sausages. If the 10 weekend breakfast items don’t grab your attention, try the charcuterie or fromage planks from the main menu. Everything is created in house and from scratch. Even the coffee is specially roasted per cup ordered, but if you feel tempted to have something with a kick, there are great beers on tap and Pierre Jourdan MCCs.
Sustainable, organic produce from chef-patron James Diack’s farm, Brightside, make up an appealing menu. Here you get the best service, too: friendly and unfrenzied. Pay only R70 for a dish and a mimosa, hot chocolate, coffee or fresh juice. There are eight fun choices, prepared diner style but using real, made-from-scratch superchef food. James is often in the kitchen, although he has two other restaurants, Coobs and the National. He just loves it. There’s a peanut butter French toast that will knock your socks off, served with blueberries, strawberries, bourbon-glazed banana, ricotta and granola crumble.
The Federal brunch features wild boar bacon from Brightside farm as well as lamb bangers with organic free-range eggs done as you like, and a sweet-potato hash brown. The big favourite, no wonder, is called Dutched Flapjacks. For this dish the flapjacks are chunky apple ones, with the farm’s boar bacon or Southern fried chicken, with five spiced butterscotches and some leek ‘hay’. A menu of boozy milkshakes is also just right for brunches, served in soda glasses with straws. Make your meal memorable by ending off with shake flavours like real strawberries and vodka, salted caramel and bourbon, or coffee and Kahlúa.
Expect a queue here from early on in the day. Louis Roux’s upbringing in the Middle East is reflected on the menu. His Yemeni flatbread is worth any wait, served with Israeli salad, hummus and boiled eggs, and presented drizzled with olive oil and oregano. Here are the two best shakshukas in town: The Red one has eggs poached in a homemade Middle-Eastern tomato sauce, along with garlic, onion, green pepper, olives and herbs, served with that Yemeni flatbread, hummus and fatoush salad. The Green one, equally fantastic, also comes with the Yemeni bread, hummus and fatoush, but the eggs are poached in leeks, baby spinach and feta. Divine. There are 12 signature breakfasts including out-of-this world pancakes, like the one with Lindt dark chocolate, KitKat and peanut-brittle dust. Then there are all the scrambles, English muffins and omelettes, and a whole page of make-your-own ingredients. Many excellent coffees, fresh juices, and devilish regmakers called Health Boosters in shot glasses round out the drinks offering. Perfect for a late morning meal is the Boozy Brunch menu, dedicated to aperitifs, mimosas, bubbles by the glass, wine, beer and cider, a collection of Bloody Marys, a trio of coolers and five or so cocktails. Find a seat on the pavement or inside at the counters or tables. It’s noisy and busy, but good.
Is this the coolest brunch venue in Melville? Surrounded by designer clothing shops and art galleries, The Service Station is frequented by the most chic clientele. The service is great and the food – there are 17 options in total – remains excellent. The Hollandaise here is so good that people can’t resist ordering their usual of eggs Benedict, Royale or Florentine. The salmon scrambled eggs are perfect and buttery, with just set yolks, and the brioche French toast features mascarpone and a tumble of seasonal berries. The continental breakfast eaters might enjoy a selection of fresh, pinkly roasted meats at the buffet, and a platter of cheese. Not to mention the berry tart that has somehow become a traditional breakfast item here, and the wonderful coffee.
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