Remember Ozzy Osman the charming accountant and talented cook from MasterChef SA? That was before he was Ozzy at chef school, Ozzy at the One&Only, and then Ozzy with David Higgs. Chef Ozzy is a man with a plan – always.
His latest is Ozzy’s Kitchen in Wynberg, Johannesburg, where he serves casual fine-dining fare. He will open a true fine-dining restaurant on the rooftop by spring this year. With food this good already, the more seriously gastronomic venture is bound to be fantastic.
Cost: Average main course is R180
Serves: Delicious, innovative and accessible fusion food with big flavours
Parking: There’s a big parking lot behind the building
Best for: Breakfasts lunches and casual fine-dining dinners, all Halaal
Star rating: Food 4, service 5, ambience 2
Ozzy defaults to classic French methods but his food is much more involved and interesting thanks to his Indian–South African background and his use of international plays on methods and tastes. He’s a sensual cook, able to deftly balance textures and tastes.
Breakfasts include omelettes, frittatas and a range of home-made breads – but nothing is ever just ordinary. There’s a granola sundae, French toast made with baguette and topped with superior creamy cheese, breakfast wraps, flapjacks, and a corn fritter Benedict with poached eggs, rocket, tomato and Hollandaise served espuma style. There are also toasted sandwiches, gourmet sandwiches and light meals like (alcohol-free) beer-battered hake with a chunky homemade tartare sauce.
But the highlight is the casual fine-dining menu available on Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sundays for lunch. Rounds of rye toast are crisped under quick-fried bundles of prawns with firm bite, and the house-made plum sauce is so much nicer than any bottled version. The Vietnamese chicken-mint salad wows with green freshness, featuring smoky-tender chicken, the sweet-sharp prickles of palm-sugar sauce, shredded carrot and cool noodles.
The second prawn dish on the table is sweet-chilli prawns, served inside their shells. Our eager fingers flip them from their carapaces, submitting them to the chilli-hot sauce that tastes more fruity than syrupy. It is beyond compare. Ozzy sources his prawns from a private farmer and his patrons seem to love them; they appear again in a prawn-and-avocado starter.
One of the mains sampled with delight is the Meat Connoisseur Burger. The ground Wagyu beef is loosely juicy, pink within, served with molten emmenthaler and wholegrain textured mustard on a brioche base, accompanied by crispy, chunky sweet-potato fries.
Wagyu Beef served with onion purée, chive mash and grilled asparagus. Chef Ozzy will be serving a 6 course tasting menu for Valentine's Day❤ Make your email@example.com today!!! #ozzyskitchen #masterchef #valentinesday #foodie #halaal #jozi #eatout #foodporn #food #thejoburgfoodie #zomatosa
The kingklip, grilled on the outside but tender within, is good enough to convert anyone. Grilled sweet potato, spinach and butternut appear alongside, as well as a creamy lemon sauce. That spinach is testament to the cook’s skill: fresh-torn, chilli-spiced and quickly cooked.
Another of the party is advised to have the more unusual Denver cut of Wagyu. It is exceedingly tender and served rare (as are all the steaks, according to a notice on the menu) with exceedingly light hot parmesan gnocchi and fresh chimmichurri. All three dishes are faultless and packed with taste.
The dessert options at Ozzy’s are either a homemade gelato platter of wonders including ice cream canoli and hazelnut-chocolate or a long slate of little pâtisserie. We opt to share the latter and carefully divide up a deep berry-coloured dark-chocolate cake; an exquisite mini crème brûlée; a small column of tiramisu; a perfect chocolate brownie with gold foil tips; and, perhaps the best if it were possible to choose, a pecan caramel pie.
If it weren’t for the not-yet-100% sustainably sourced ingredients, the food would get a 5 out of 5. But, for what it has set out to be, it’s utterly delicious and innovative, with all dishes produced in-house every day.
Ozzy’s Kitchen is fully Halaal, so there’s nothing alcoholic. We order gorgeously presented ginger beer, old-fashioned lemonade and a superbly refreshing and clever cucumber mojito. There are also teas, coffees and beautiful shakes.
Comforting and caring. The manageress, Sakeenah Buntting is a delight, seeing to everyone’s needs, doling out advice and making us all feel special. Chef Ozzy tours the tables between kitchen duties to meet and greet. The experience is a pleasure from start to finish.
The spacious restaurant has an outdoor and indoor section, seating 120 in total. The walls are brick and even though candles are lit at each table, it still seems a bit Wynberg-industrial. The best room is the children’s generous playroom, which is carpeted and covered in bold graffiti. The restaurant features enormous TV screens for soccer fans. The place fills with couples mostly on Friday evenings after prayers, and is completely full over weekends during the day. Plates and slates and boards are carefully chosen for each dish, the glassware is good and the huge linen napkins wonderful.
By spring, next door will become a kind of everyday market, with a butcher, baker and specialist food producers. One floor up is an art gallery, and two floors up is where the new fine-dining restaurant will be, on what is now the roof.
The kids’ menu is anything but junk food: Beef burgers, mini-hakes and chicken pregos are attractively plated and served with homemade condiments.
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