Simple, homely food. Generous serving portions for all the moreish food is just what one wants for the indulgence here.
There is not much of a starter option but the rest of the menu makes up for it, like with the homemade pasta. Also choose from ostrich mince bobotie or sticky BBQ spare ribs. The oxtail is the best, falling off the bone. It's full of flavour and lathered in a rich tomato sauce, served with mash. Notable is the pulled pork burger or their craft burger – massive 200g burgers. The smoked pulled pork is placed atop the 200g beef patty with Emmental cheese, greens and aioli. Banting guests could choose a cauliflower rosti instead of the bread bun.
If not choosing dessert from the display of treats, a dessert shake or a freak waffle, then try something from the short list of desserts, which include cheesecakes and ice creams. The chocolate truffle, a moist flourless Belgian chocolate cake served with a soft cream or vanilla ice cream and a berry compote, is pure indulgence.
This is where you can have bubbles by the glass. Try Laurent Perrier Cuveé Brut Rose NV. The extensive wine list includes organic wines from Waverley Hills wine estate in Tulbagh, where no sulphites are added. Then there is a whole host of milkshakes, which includes spiked milkshakes like Ferrero Rocher and hazelnut. Or, if it’s a winter night, try the ‘freaking Hot Chocolates’ which includes the Loaded Hot Chocolate or the Loaded Salted Caramel. Artisan cocktails are also available.
Service is friendly, quick and edgy. Well-informed waitrons recommend meals for those who need a bit of help choosing.
It's a buzzing restaurant, with dark wooden tables and chairs that gives a vintage look, yet the pizza oven offers a warm homely touch. The kitchen is semi-open and there is a display of some treats, including homemade cupcakes. A true foodie hub.
Looking out the window, the view shows the vibrant Parkhurst vibe of people going about their days, some vintage shops and other restaurants, making you remember with surprise that you are in the midst of busy Johannesburg.
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Craft is a phenomenal success, sourcing fresh ingredients from producers with integrity (their stories set out on the menu), and using it to create heart-warming dishes. Dig right in with some thick, flavourful beef and onion soup to share at the table, with steaming rolls straight from the oven. The restaurant has recently acquired its own smoker and now serves beautiful home-smoked chicken – tender, tasty and served simply sliced with smoked bacon and fresh apple slaw. A burger is not just a burger here. The Craft lamb burger is exceptional: the pure ground lamb patty, nestled in its wood-fired pita, adorned with minted tsatziki, the whole placed artfully on bright steamed greens, and some sweet potato fries on the side, becomes a revelation of tastes. If you want a no-bread burger, ask for it to be served on the crispy cauliflower rösti. Every dish, big like the aromatic kleftiko or small, like their cheery chicken liver salad, is carefully made. Desserts are much more whacky, with a touch of nostalgia, like the homemade salted caramel Oreo cheesecake. Breakfast is equally interesting. Shaksuka is popular these days, but what about Scotch eggs and even a salmon version thereof? Then there’s that stack of coconut pancakes. Vegetarians, carnivore, fish lovers, there’s something for everyone at Craft.
Top of the list are the Waverley Hills organic wines and then it goes on to include the funky, the interesting and the almost-garagiste. Prices are fair. Then of course there’s the craft beers, again the unusual, really crafty ones, fifteen in bottles and ten on tap. Even the spirits are crafted, coming from the likes of Inverroch and Jorgensen. Another draw card is the milkshakes in flavours like vanilla and marshmallow puff, Ferrero Rocher and lemon meringue. All that wheatgrass standing around in pots often goes into freshly squeezed drinks. The charming manager functions as the drinks adviser and sommelier.
Charming, with a lot of personal attention to every patron; and though nothing that arrives at top speed, customers seem very content.
It’s a very big, busy and well-designed space, with a retro feel. Dark wooden tables and chairs find their place on parquet floors, and there is one large, round community table. Nothing intimidating here, even the bar area has tables in it where families could dine in comfort. So good is the food and vibe that you seldom see anyone on their phones, which is phenomenal in itself. Outside, the menu is propped up on a Remington typewriter at a table.
There’s some crafty stuff for sale, including leather-smith aprons, cast iron teapots, and organic coffee.
Craft opened in trendy Parkhurst late in 2013, aiming to please crowds at the height of the craft beer and casual eating craze, with the additional draw of a pizza oven and extensive drinks menu of innovative milkshakes, homemade soft drinks, coffees, and an impressive wine list. Hennie Fisher takes a closer look.
Craft is a great drinks-and-snacks spot, offering a number of plates to share, such as the cured meat board or a vegetable board including artichokes, marinated courgettes, dolmades, and falafel. Sitting down to a hearty meal will prove equally satisfying. The large, wood-fired pizza oven looming in a corner delivers items like the delightful fig and brie pizza – an excellent starter to share – which comes to your table piping hot. Even the breakfast menu has a number of items that fly out of the pizza oven, such as the breakfast lasagne (layers of mince, scrambled egg, spinach, hickory ham and cheese) and the breakfast pizza (a Margarita with bacon, eggs and fresh herbs). For lunch, order some easy-going dishes like hake goujons in a batter (made from the house ale) with potato wedges and aioli. The burger on the dinner menu features a juicy, handmade beef patty and a bun loaded with seeds. You could also order hearty, old-fashioned bobotie and yellow rice, an ale rarebit rump or a pretty nifty chickpea burger. One off-note, however, was the dish of large pasta shells with a lacklustre meat sauce; it needed a whole lot more oomph to put it in the same class as the rest.
Someone in the kitchen has a deft hand with desserts and pastries. Although the desserts might sound slightly mainstream, they are made with great care and are utterly delicious. A salted caramel cheesecake, flourless chocolate truffle cake, and a perfectly wobbly panna cotta with caramel popcorn are some examples of the wider selection.
The drinks list is comprehensive, with the wine list highlights four wine farms – Babylonstoren, Lords Winery, Lynx Winery and Gabrielskloof – with background information on the location and owners. The rest of the wine offering is unfussy, with a mix of well-chosen, well-priced options such as Mount Babylon Pioneer Brut Reserve, Ataraxia Chardonnay, Crystallum Pinot Noir and JD Initial Red, to name but a few. There are many craft beers on tap, including the 11 Shillings, a craft beer apparently exclusive to Parkhurst. Other niceties include hand-paddled milkshakes in flavours such as candy floss and Ferrero Rocher chocolate; a spritzer made with pomegranate, rose and raspberry cordial from Kuhestan organic farm in Magoebaskloof; and an old-school lemonade. Just give one of the passionate staff the opportunity and before you know it you’ll be doing a tequila tasting.
Waiters are young and sassy, while managers are always on hand to make suggestions about the particularly large collection of beverages or urge you to order a single-origin Kenyan AA Karimikui cappuccino – they’re darn good, too. All staff members are well trained; our waitress was careful to mention that the chocolate ganache cake was made with alcohol.
The restaurant takes up a corner in one of Johannesburg’s most famous foodie streets, across from other landmarks such as Coobs, YuMe, Melissa’s and a lovely little late-night grocer called Urban Spaza. Happily, Joburg appears to be coming into its African identity. Craft’s tables spill out onto the sidewalk and at around 7.30pm there were no unoccupied seats. Even a table in the cosy bar area makes you feel part of the buzz, once the office-folk have departed after their post-work drinks. Neutral colours, a wall tiled entirely in black (behind the grill section), and some trendy lighting make for a casual but simultaneously smart atmosphere. Tables are bare, in keeping with the quick-paced bistro vibe, but perhaps slightly more substantial serviettes or cloth napkins would not go amiss, since much of the food warrants eating by hand.
Take home the super-tasty Karimikui coffee, Aceh Tengah organic tea, and the very chic and utterly desirable leather aprons worn by the waiters.