Looking for sugar-, dairy- or gluten-free food in Joburg? Reviewer Hennie Fisher finds an impressive range at this Muldersdrift restaurant.
The menu does offer an à la carte section and desserts, but it’s the buffet that you should experience here – and it’s the only thing served after 11am. They maintain that 90% of their dishes are gluten-free, all dishes are 100% dairy-free, and they use no refined sugars.
Off the à la carte, start with avocado on home-baked sourdough toast with tomato, rocket, balsamic reduction and herbs, or order a baked pizza with a spelt or gluten-free base. The vegan burger features a quinoa and vegetable patty and sweet potato fries or salad.
The buffet includes amazing bowls of tricolour rice, spinach cottage pie, magic wands (best described like a dried vegetable ‘sausage’), hummus, dehydrated salad, raw falafel with bao mayo, tapenade, vegetarian lasagne, wraps with a delicious dipping sauce, mock egg mayo and mock tuna mayo (both delicious, to the horror of some of the guests at the table). Other options include vegetable curry, chickpea salad, guacamole and so forth. The buffet offers an impressive average of 30 dishes.
Wines are extremely well priced. Avondale Armilla Brut NV (organic) and Waverley Hills Sparkling MCC 2010 are good bubbly choices, offered without fuss amongst the other organic whites, such as La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Stellar White Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and a few more from Waverley Hills. The red section has slightly more options such as Avondale Samsara Syrah 2016, Die Waghuis Syrah 2013 and Org de Rac Reserve Merlot 2011 (organic) at R199.
The main restaurant, which is where the buffet is stationed, can become slightly crowded, with people constantly moving and out and going through to the store to buy food stuffs. The small outside terrace fills up quickly and on busy days the tables spill out all over the property, so it’s best to find a secluded spot under a tree. Service is attentive, and questions about the food (of which there are bound to be a few if you’re not a seasoned veggie) are answered with great patience and friendliness. Even on busy days, the harvest table is kept full, and you can see staff buzzing about in the open-plan kitchen.
The establishment conveys a sense of honesty and a natural ethos about the food that it serves. As you arrive, you move through a lovely tree-canopied walkway past the little chapel and the coffee roastery with its wafting aromas.
The restaurant itself feels a little like an old-style French kitchen with the massive buffet dominating the room, and the shop to one side sells a huge selection of health, vegetarian and green food products.
Leafy Greens would steal the heart of anyone vaguely interested in kitchen gardening. There’s a massive vegetable, herb and fruit garden inter-planted with dahlias and roses, which are used as decorations all over the restaurant and even in the bathrooms. Be sure to amble among fig trees, rhubarb bushes, cascades of nasturtiums, sweet piquant peppers and pecan trees. It shares the same property as Casalinga Ristorante, both of which can be reached from the large parking area.
If alcohol isn’t your thing, somebody will gladly open and present you with a whole coconut, island-style. There is also a fantastic array of smoothies, lassis and juices to quench the thirst. Opt for a refreshing smoothie made with organic greens from the garden and almonds, dates, banana, moringa, maca, aloe vera, pineapple and coriander, or one of the best apple sherbets with lemon zest.