Venues

Arbour Café & Courtyard

Arbour Café & Courtyard
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Cost
R90 avg main meal
Ambience
Coffee, Quick meals, Special occasions
Food
Bistro fare, Café fare, Fine-dining food, French, Seafood, Steak, Vegetarian
Payment
Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R100(wine); R120(champagne)

Critic's review

Paddi Clay

Food
This French-inspired café in Birdhaven specialises in Breton galettes made from gluten-free buckwheat. Try one of these light but substantial French pancakes with a generous filling of exotic mushrooms, or the chef’s special filling of flambéed chorizo, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. In winter, warm up with a bowl of tasty homemade chicken soup and seeded rye bread then finish off with a classic crêpe with cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice.

Mains include seared salmon with a crisp black sesame-and-citrus crust and avocado cream, rib-eye steak, and chicken with a white wine sauce of sundried tomatoes, spinach and feta. Ingredients are enticingly fresh and original, and the salads and sides alone will delight vegans and vegetarians.

Naturally, crêpes with various sauces and fillings, are the dessert focus. Brandy flambéed with orange butter sauce, a classic, is highly recommended and the decadent nutella and banana is addictive.

Drinks
Pick a typical accompaniment for your galette from three local craft pear and apple ciders. If you’re feeling flush after such an authentic experience, you can choose from two very pricey imported French ciders. There’s a small collection of bubbly and light wines, in keeping with the mains menu, as well as a handful of craft and other beers and classic cocktails, such as mimosas, Pimm’s cup or Bloody Marys, essential for any brunch.

Service
The service is friendly, unobtrusive and unhurried.

Ambience
Although there’s room for only two tiny tables on the pavement outside, there are several more in the pastel interior and many more in its hidden courtyard, which is at its best in summer. It’s a popular spot with ladies who linger over lunch, but the free WiFi also lures a sprinkling of business people and internet surfers to this early-opening café. The enclosed courtyard is a good option for a drink in a quiet corner or a quick coffee and pastry if you have a poodle or small child in tow.

And…
The courtyard is available for private functions and parties and occasionally hosts intimate music events such as an album launch or an acoustic session.

(August 2017)

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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  • Kate Liquorish

    Food
    Hidden behind the stylish shops of Wrenrose Court you’ll find an enchanting leaf-dappled alcove, aptly named ‘Arbour’. Robyn Timpson, chef and owner of the French-inspired café and crêperie has created a whimsical and elegant space that will nourish your soul as well as your stomach. They’re open for breakfast and lunch with their gluten-free, buckwheat galettes (savoury French pancakes) taking centre stage. The menu itself is an orchard of fresh and free-range, with only the best ingredients used.

    For breakfast you can choose to ‘build your own’ which comprises your preference of eggs on either rye or baguette with an array of salaciously rich and decadent sides including smoked streaky bacon, hand-made beef chipolatas, creamy wild mushrooms and Norwegian smoked salmon. For those wanting something a little naughty, you can choose between butter croissants and French toast with lavish toppings or, if low GI is your thing, there are ‘fruit bowls’ with porridge or Greek yogurt and homemade muesli.

    Lunch appeals to both the in-and-out-business-crowd and those with time to linger; the menu boasts a wonderfully balanced mix of salads, sandwiches, galettes and mains, all of which taste as good as they sound. The salads, whilst presented in a delicate fashion, are robust and flavourful in all the right ways. The smoked salmon salad with avocado, grapefruit, cucumber, red onion, black sesame and a citrus dressing is the quintessential lady’s lunch and the chicken salad, piled high with avocado, broccoli, beans, Rosa tomatoes, parmesan and toasted seeds will bust your hunger the healthy way.

    The sandwiches are casual; simple and tasty. The galettes, Arbour’s signature, are what people really go here for, they’re light and crisp with fillings to die for: the creamy herbed wild mushrooms, the five-spiced duck and cherry and the flambéed chorizo, mozzarella, tomato and basil galettes are all wonderfully rich and seductive.

    For mains you’ll find gorgeous ribeye steaks, simply cooked and beautifully presented as well as seared salmon with creamed avocado, duck confit and chicken fillets with an artichoke, sage, caper and lemon cream sauce.

    If you’re one with a sweet tooth, the selection of crêpes will have you weakening at the knees.

    Drinks
    They specialise in imported French ciders that, whilst delectable, come with a heavy price tag. The wine list is different, but concise, with wines that are on the delicate side to pair with the menu. You’ll also find some local craft beers and ciders as well as a few cocktails for those keen to hit the brunching scene.

    Ambience
    It is just delightful: feminine and refined, French and floral. The courtyard is ideal for spring and summer days; it’s a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Melrose and one of the few courtyards in Johannesburg that isn’t looking onto a parking lot. It can be too cold to sit outside during winter, but the inside section is warm and welcoming dotted with ferns, beautiful mirrors, flowers and a central table flourishing with butter croissants, cupcakes and other delights.

    Service 
    It’s personal and continually good. This is generally the case with owner-run restaurants, but the team at Arbour is always willing to go the extra mile, making it the perfect spot for a special occasion.

    And…
    They open bright and early and serve fantastic almond milk cappuccinos.

    (September 2016)

    Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

User reviews

  • My husband and I went to the restaurant on 8 February. It was chilly and had been raining. It was our first time. We had heard a lot about the courtyard. I asked the server if we could just peek outside to get a sense of the size. She said no and showed us to a table. The service was fine with the occasional hiccup (still instead of sparkling water, etc). The food was a huge disappointment. To start we had a baked apple salad and chorizo galette. The salad was flabby and flavorless. The batter for the galette should have been made with buckwheat flour and wasn't. The chorizo was hard to chew and full of gristle. For mains we had the seared salmon and an aged ribeye with aioli. The salmon was burned so badly the skin was black, as was the top non-skin side. It was dry and tasted singed.we asked for a rare steak, and it arrived blue - barely warm. It was also sinewy and impossible to cut or chew. The aioli was thick and clumpy with none of the promised paprika. I alsonhad a terrible allergic reaction to something! We told the waitress about the problems with the food. She was apologetic and offered a coffee which we declined. She said she'd tell the manager. No one came to address the issue with us. In the end we paid R700 for a terrible experience.
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  • I had a Nutella crepe with bananas and it was quite decadent, it really quite an bit of Nutella, had a hot chocolate too which was good as well
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  • What a wonderful experience! Thank you Arbour Cafe & Courtyard for fabulous Food and Superb service!
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  • Hidden gem in Birdhaven. Had an absolutely fantastic meal at Arbour Cafe this morning. Perfect atmosphere for a relaxed breakfast or lunch. Tried the chorizo gallette which was amazing, but will definitely be back to try a couple more items. Everything looked and sounded delicious. Very hands on approach from the owner and manager which is refreshing in this day and age. The pride and passion definitely shines through. Great food, great coffee and great service all round. 5 out of 5!
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  • Excellent, chicken Pie or Beef Salad
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  • Devine fresh little restaurant serving traditional French crepes and gallettes, amongst other things. They have a wonderful deli where you can buy cakes, pastries and croissants too. My favourite is the chorizo, roasted rosa tomato, mozzarella and basil gallette. YUM! They have a good wine list but their speciality is Imported French Cider. The do breakfast and lunch, and I think they do after-work drinks on Thursdays.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Beer served
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Dog-friendly
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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