When Wall Street stock broker Lemuel Benedict wandered into New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel in search of a hearty breakfast to ease his hangover, he decided “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisped bacon and a hooker of hollandaise” would do the trick.
Benedict’s original request sounds yummy enough, especially if the toast were buttered so that the warm eggs would start melting the butter even before the sauce went over the lot. But Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel in Mr Benedict’s instance, swapped the toast for halved English muffins (nothing like the American muffins sometimes served!), and changed the bacon to ham. And so that indulgent breakfast classic, eggs Benedict, was born (or so one story goes).
These days, you’ll see mash-up variations on the theme: spinach-laden eggs Florentine often form part of the Benedict, and even eggs Royale – which comes with salmon, not ham – is sometimes called eggs Benedict on menus.
Semantics aside, we do insist on one or two standards – no steamed eggs from so-called ‘poachers’ posing as poached eggs; and the hollandaise must be freshly made, and unglazed. Overall, the tastes must work well together, even if they are varied.
Cnr Café & Bistro (Craighall Park)
Despite the cute name, the place is smart, bustling and big. Here the eggs Benedict (R88) are called eggs hollandaise, maybe because they arrive with ‘unBenedict’ (but good to eat) buttery, wilted spinach and roasted baby tomatoes. The base is a nicely crunchy seed toast; the poached eggs are unerringly professional; and the hollandaise is a little more richly ‘egg yolky’ than usual.
The Countess (Melville)
At chef Gregg Abell’s new coppery steampunk venture, situated at the 27Boxes mall, the eggs Benedict nestle in a wide, mysteriously inviting marbled bowl. The hollandaise is fresh from the whisk, and made with lemon and speckles of smoked paprika. Here the poached eggs – topped with hickory ham and a crunchy watercress, and set on toasted baguette dribbled with oil from the the restaurant’s own garlic confit – are faultless. (R65)
These are truly the most beautifully poached eggs – just don’t waver from options other than ‘soft’. You can choose from a range of different artisanal toasts, even banting coconutty hotcakes, but the ciabatta tastes the best with the dish. Bacon or macon is, oddly, an extra choice. The hollandaise, made with grapefruit juice in addition to lemon, tastes interesting in a good way, especially since these eggs Benedict come with spinach. (R59 plus R27 extra for bacon or macon)
The Fat Zebra (Linden)
In this cottagey restaurant marked by super-attentive service, the poached eggs Ben-Addicted (R65) arrive with hot pastrami. With lemony, silky hollandaise and a dousing of garlic chives, it works surprisingly well. Another version of the Ben-Addicted features spinach and smoked salmon.
My Bread & Butter (Parkview)
Chef-patron Daniel Vine’s crisp and neat restaurant is on the breakfast corner of Parkview’s Tyrone Avenue. The My Eggs Benedict (R65) featured poached beauties deliciously near to bursting under a finely balanced hollandaise made the French way, with wine vinegar, and with the traditional gypsy ham and split English muffin. Grilled rosa tomato halves decorate the plate, and spinach or smoked salmon is an option.
This venue on 44 Stanley serves some of the best eggs Benedict in town. Chef Claudia Giannoccaro believes in freshness, so the lemon gets squeezed straight into the sauce as it’s whisked into hollandaise. The eggs are whirled to perfection and served with the yummiest crispy-edged bacon (all we know is that it’s from a German butchery). A super-benedict mash-up is being introduced with all the other ingredients, too. (R72 for the traditional version)
Urban Angel (Randburg)
Their Eggs Benedict (R66) is a delight of free-range, golden-yolked eggs served with a generous slew of streaky, crispy bacon and buttery-lemony hollandaise on nicely toasted fresh sourdough. The bacon part can be replaced with spinach and feta, or haddock. The service isn’t instant because cooking and waiting tables are part of the kitchen duties, but this heart-gladdening food is worth the short wait.
Eggs Benedict often features as the special of the day at this popular franchise, where they use pan-bread toast rounds topped with crispy bacon and soft coddled eggs, elegantly covered with a classic hollandaise and sliced spring onion. This breakfast comfort food can be ordered with smoked salmon, instead of the bacon, for the same price (R60). The BICCCS branches are well known for serving great day-time food, so you can order the Eggs Benedict until late in the afternoon.
Carlton Café Delicious (Menlo Park)
Choose between the smoked salmon trout (R95) or lovely earthy ham (R85) options. There’s a poached egg on both halves of the muffin, and generous lashings of hollandaise are spooned over. Of course, the hollandaise is made properly (and from scratch) using rich egg yolks and fantastic butter – there are no short-cuts here.
Ginger and Fig (Brooklyn)
Here, they’re proud of the fact that they prepare every component of their Eggs Benedict (R70) from scratch: the lovingly baked sourdough English muffin, the bacon they cure and smoke, and the fresh hollandaise. They believe it’s the love and effort they put into every step of the process that makes their Eggs Benedict so great.
This establishment easily sells hundreds of plates of Eggs Benedict (R56) every month. After testing numerous English muffin recipes and methods to poach eggs perfectly, they believe they have it down to a fine art. Country ham is popped onto warm toasted English muffins, topped by two poached organic eggs and a luscious hollandaise sauce (made with butter, egg yolks and a dash of lemon juice for the perfect yolk-butter emulsion). Staff continuously work at perfecting their recipe, and the proof is in the tasting.
Red Tomato Supper Club (Waterkloof)
Chef Renette Vosloo says establishments that think they can get away with ‘fake’ or instant hollandaise sauce really irk her, because the butter flavour just falls short. She also has a gripe about those little poacher cups. At Red Tomato, none of that will do: if you get to try their eggs Benedict (which comes as part of a set menu for group bookings), you’re in for a treat. They poach their eggs in water with a dash of vinegar; their hickory ham is well smoked and savoury; their English muffins are home-made and yeasty; and their hollandaise is luscious and decadent. A lot of effort, yes, but worth every bit. (R80 for the set menu)
Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Elandsfontein)
This elegant fine-dining establishment serves no fewer than three versions of the classic Eggs Benedict. The Millionaire’s Nest Egg (R145) consists of poached quail egg, where truffle paste has been inserted into the centre of the egg, on a bed of courgette ribbons with truffle foam. The Crack of Dawn version (R95) features poached eggs with Williams pears, which offer a delightful hint of sweetness, and a saffron-scented potato foam instead of the traditional English muffin. Option three (R65) is slightly more traditional, even though the muffin is made from low-GI bread spread with pesto. Chef Chantel Dartnall, the S.Pellegrino Chef of the Year, is always keen to share her knowledge and tips, such as: when your hollandaise looks like it is about to split, just add a teaspoon of boiling water and whisk vigorously.
Bellevue Café (Kloof)
This Italian favourite sticks to the classic version of the breakfast dish with two poached eggs on fresh English muffins and forest ham dressed in a beautiful hollandaise sauce. (R65)
Ebb & Flo Café (Umhlanga)
This is the ultimate pit-stop for an early morning shopping spree. Replenish your energy by ordering the lighter Avocado Benedict (R69), which is served with salmon and avocado on an English muffin, topped off with two poached eggs and a silky hollandaise sauce.
Freedom Café (Greyville)
Gorgeous bâtard bread from The Glenwood Bakery is topped with wilted baby spinach, two poached eggs and a luxurious hollandaise sauce. Order yours with the traditional option of bacon (R68) or try it with salmon gravadlax (R90) or portobello mushrooms (R60).
The Glenwood Bakery (Glenwood)
Locals flock to this suburban bakery for weekend breakfast feasts. On Saturdays and Sundays only, you can order the popular eggs Benedict, which is served on artisanal ciabatta or wholemeal sourdough with salty coppa hama, all topped with hollandaise (R50).
Old Town Italy (Umhlanga)
Expect Italian café-style breakfasts at this buzzing eatery. Order the Il Bosco Rosso, comprised of two free-range poached eggs, streaky bacon and topped with a hollandaise sauce on artisanal bread. To add a bit of freshness, the dish is served with buttery seasoned avo (R62).
Parc Café (Glenwood)
This relaxed Durban favourite serves the Not So Benedict (R70). Perfectly poached eggs sit atop potato-and-rosemary bread (again, from The Glenwood Bakery, next door) and streaky bacon, before being covered in a perfect lemon hollandaise. Finally, it’s topped with a salty tang of finely chopped capers that counter the rich sauce (R70).
Remo’s Villaggio (Umhlanga Rocks)
This busy Umhlanga Village locale serves up a gourmet version of eggs Benedict (R85), which combines Parma ham, fresh rocket, poached eggs and a minted hollandaise, served on homemade toasted ciabatta. The Eggs Onassis (R92) replaces the ham with smoked salmon.
Surf Riders Food Shack (Addington Beach)
Breakfasts are a favourite at this sunny beachside spot. After a long walk on the promenade, tuck in to their eggs Benedict with two poached-to-perfection eggs served with ham and the homemade Surf Riders’ bun with a rich hollandaise sauce (R55).
Bakesh Food and Wine (Durbanville)
Situated in a delightful heritage house with big bay windows that belie the modern interior, this place has a great veranda overlooking the garden and kids’ play area out back. Breakfasts are popular, and there’s an unusual Benedict option of two poached eggs served on an English muffin, topped with bacon, jalapeño and mushrooms, draped in hollandaise (R69).
Bistro Sixteen82 (Tokai)
Weekend brunches are a must at this wine-farm restaurant, but be sure to book ahead. Their version of eggs Benedict is plated up with with a fabulous slab of pork-belly bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and roast tomato on a potato-and-herb rösti (R72). If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, try the Mushroom Benedict with assorted mushrooms, poached eggs, potato rösti and hollandaise sauce (R68).
Bootlegger Coffee Company (Bantry Bay, Kenilworth, Sea Point)
This bustling coffee spot masters the art of salmon Benedict with a serving of two eggs poached to your liking and accompanied by Franschhoek salmon trout, baby spinach and hollandaise on your choice of toast (R75).
Cafeen (Harfield Village)
This quaint Southern Suburbs establishment serves up eggs Benedict with a choice of either gypsy ham (R69) or smoked salmon (R79). The eggs perch on a toasted English muffin with a smooth hollandaise sauce.
The Company’s Garden Restaurant (City Bowl)
Enjoy a hearty portion of this classic amongst the leafy green gardens. This Benedict is comprised of poached eggs, ribbons of smoked salmon, wilted spinach and rich and silken hollandaise sauce (R69).
Dear Me Food (City Bowl)
This chic inner-city breakfast and lunch restaurant offers ethically sourced and skillfully prepared dishes. Order the eggs Benedict with toasted ciabatta, topped with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, fresh rocket and free-range pork neck (R62), free-range bacon (R72) or smoked trout (R78).
Four & Twenty Café & Pantry (Wynberg)
At this Parisian-themed breakfast spot, guests can order from a choice of the Benedict with two free-range poached eggs, hollandaise and confit baby tomatoes on ciabatta toast with crispy bacon (R72), or a version done with smoked salmon trout (R88).
Pair your cup of Rosetta Roastery coffee with a classic version of eggs Benedict at this laid-back eatery. The dish is served with two organic, free-range poached eggs and dressed in a lemony hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin (R45). Add on a portion of smoky bacon (R14), herbed grilled mushrooms (R12) or cold-smoked salmon (R35).
Harveys at The Mansions (Sea Point)
Enjoy a weekend brunch after a walk on the Sea Point Promenade with options such as the classic eggs Benedict (R70), which is comprised of two poached eggs on an English muffin with gypsy ham and a creamy hollandaise sauce, or the salmon Benedict (R90) with smoked salmon and a delicate yet flavoursome red-pepper hollandaise.
Hello Sailor (Observatory)
Obs foodies can tuck into two Benedict options. For the pork-lovers, poached eggs are served on toasted ciabatta with bacon and a velvety hollandaise (R55). Those wanting a meat-free option can enjoy the version served with leafy spinach and hollandaise sauce (R55).
Hemelhuijs (City Bowl)
Head to this stylish eatery for a light, Benedict-style dish (R60) with a seasonal twist: two perfectly poached farm eggs that are accompanied by artichokes, hollandaise sauce and smoked trout or crisp bacon.
Jarryds (Sea Point)
Main Road’s new breakfast and coffee spot serves up a great selection of Benedict-style dishes. Try the option with fresh smoked trout, homemade hollandaise and your choice of bread (R75), or opt for the traditional free-range bacon Benedict with poached eggs, homemade hollandaise and a choice of bread (R70). Veggies can enjoy theirs with fresh sautéed baby spinach and mushrooms (R65).
Enjoy a wholesome eggy breakfast before a day of wine tasting with options such as the classic Benedict served with two poached eggs, grilled bacon, hollandaise, grilled tomato on chunky ciabatta toast (R70). Eggs Provençal is also on offer with two poached eggs, grilled mushroom, spinach, hollandaise and ciabatta toast (R72).
Kleinsky’s Delicatessen (Sea Point)
For eggs Benedict with a New York twist, try the latke Benedict with satisfying, crisp potato latkes, two poached eggs and a velvety smooth hollandaise sauce. The dish can be served with your choice of briny pastrami (R58) or ribbons of smoked salmon (R66).
Soet Bistro (Durbanville)
This neighbourhood favourite serves up a tasty Benedict with a touch of spinach. Order yours with ham or bacon for R68, or with salmon for R79, on your choice of toast with a hollandaise sauce.
Starlings Café (Claremont)
This charming suburban coffee shop has Benedict options served on a choice of wholewheat and rye from Baked Bistro and even a choice of low-carb bread. It comes with Richard Bosman’s free-range bacon, poached eggs to your liking and homemade hollandaise sauce for R69.
Tables at Nitida (Durbanville)
At this family-friendly eatery, guests can enjoy their eggs Benedict – two poached served with gypsy ham – on a savoury Belgian waffle. A rich coating of homemade hollandaise ties it all together (R75).
The Bakery at Jordan (Stellenbosch)
If you feel like spending the day touring some Stellenbosch wine farms, start here, at the bistro and bakery (next to the restaurant) at Jordan Wines. The views, of the lake and vineyards, are splendid. And you can’t go wrong with the popular Poached and Bake. It’s wonderfully simple: toast, topped with free-range poached egg, quality cured ham, spinach and hollandaise. Switch the ham for bacon, or go veg with just the spinach. (R55)
Chelsea Café and Bean (Somerset West)
Situated in Chelsea Village, this pretty little breakfast and lunch spot serves up scrumptious farm-to-table dishes. For your eggs Benedict fix, indulge in their offering with poached eggs to your liking, ham, homemade hollandaise on a choice of country, wild oats, rye, or banting bread (R60). They also do an option with mushrooms and salmon (R80) or bacon (R60).
The Farmer’s Kitchen (Stellenbosch)
This spot is perfect for Sunday family get-togethers over brunch. There’s an outside play area, the décor is charmingly French-colonial and country chic, and only the freshest locally sourced ingredients are used. The French touch is evident in their takes on eggs Benedict – the Baconly Good (R68) and the Samonly Good (R75) – which are served on croissants, and include tomato and rocket as well as hollandaise.
The Millhouse Kitchen (Somerset West)
The words quality and understated elegance best describe this restaurant, on verdant green lawns on Lourensford Wine Estate. And there’s no mashing-up of classic brunch dishes here. Go for the Eggs Benedict (R58) of free-range poached eggs, bacon and hollandaise on ciabatta; or the Eggs Florentine (R55), where spinach replaces the bacon.
Tokara Delicatessen (Helshoogte Pass)
The Benedict Poached Eggs, two eggs on a herbed corn fritter with bacon (R75), are so good, customers have been known to return to this wine-farm deli just to get another taste. With garden sculptures to admire and shelves laden with artisanal cheeses, pastries, sweets and preserves, you’ll likely want to linger here a little.
Wild Peacock Food Emporium (Stellenbosch)
This bustling emporium of delicacies is another favourite for delicious deli finds. They boast an impressive breakfast menu, and they pride themselves on making everything fresh, first thing in the morning. Choose their traditional eggs Benedict (69), with gypsy ham on an English muffin, or go for the Royale (R79), with salmon, instead.
Are you on a quest for the ultimate eggs Benedict? Tell us about your discoveries in the comments.