In June 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama swept into Woodstock sandwich deli, The Kitchen. Mrs Obama’s invigorating visit echoed the love that South Africans have felt for The Kitchen, since it first opened its doors in 2008. Chef Karen Dudley, The Kitchen’s founder elected to set up shop in Woodstock when her catering business outgrew her home. Besides serving as a base for Karen’s catering business, The Kitchen is a Woodstock eatery that attracts city slickers, loyal lunchtime diners and world leaders due to its soulful food and unpretentious atmosphere.
If you can imagine a series of bowls, filled to the brim with home comforts, you will have envisioned The Kitchen. Breakfast consists charmingly named items that are often vegetarian friendly. Enjoy Bananas in Pajamas, which consists of seedy toast with cream cheese, banana, honey and gomashio. For a taste of home, enjoy Margi’s Pancakes with spicy syrup, bananas and a dollop of cream. Watch the salad cam very carefully to select which variety of salads you might select at lunch, as well as to make sure that lunch is still available.
Three lunch salads are priced reasonably at R65, for a protein punch, add grilled chicken, a scotch egg or gammon for R28 or more. Salads consist of wholesome ingredients such as potatoes with green pesto, aioli and pomegranate seeds. Alternatively, try thinly sliced aubergine in tomato paste or taste the spicy Tunisian egg salad, chachuka. The Kitchen is renowned for serving nutritious and flavourful lunchtime meals, and indeed, one of the most famous ambassadors on its menu is The Love Sandwich. To create a ‘Love Sandwich’, one of a variety of breads is selected, generously spread with pesto, aioli, tomato, dressed leaves and then crammed with other delicious fillings. For dessert, devour a World Peace Brownie or Lemon Square.
A variety of sodas and juices are available to drink. Cold appletiser quenches the thirst alongside a hearty lunch. While the drinks menu remains limited, a variety of hot drinks, consisting of tea and coffee is on offer as well.
The team at The Kitchen has ample patience, they explained the deli-style menu with panache, while guiding diners through the ordering process with ease. Their joy was infectious.
“You can see the whole setup is like an antique shop,” explained one of The Kitchen’s team members when I commented on its homely feel. Between the bench in the window, comfortable wooden chairs and tables, as well as the knick-knacks on the wall, The Kitchen feels like visiting an old friend.
If you are looking for a cool spot to people watch, while biting into a Love Sandwich, or if you would like to order a nutritious takeaway while channeling your inner First Lady, visit The Kitchen.
With her much-loved diner, Karen Dudley has achieved the near impossible: she’s made the work lunch sexy and exciting. And she’s been keeping it up for years now. Whether you go for their famous ‘love sandwiches’ – made according to your specifications on the counter – or choose from the myriad of healthy and delicious salads and proteins displayed under the counter, you can’t go wrong, and you will always find something new and different.
Pick your protein (like honey-roasted pork bangers, or chicken breast roasted in ratatouille) and then proceed to dither between the lovely salads and sides: scrumptious roasted butternut with tahini and red onions, cauliflower with chilli and cos lettuce, buckwheat with white onions, parsley and cucumber; a wonderfully fragrant fried mushroom rice with spring onions. The dishes are simple but stellar; the unstintingly fresh ingredients allowed to shine.
The variety is ever-changing – you will actually see new and different salads coming out of the kitchen while you eat. It’s exceedingly good value – R65 for three salads or R75 for five. It’s perfect for sitting down or taking back to your desk.
The offering is limited but appropriate – you’ll find well-made coffees, teas and Sir Juice.
Full of verve. The staff at The Kitchen always seem inordinately pleased to be working here, and it really contributes to a most pleasant atmosphere and experience.
There is nothing stuffy or pretentious about The Kitchen. In fact it feels like stepping into your slightly crazy aunt’s cluttered kitchen. Though tiny, there is always room for one more diner, and though almost frenetically busy, you will never be hurried from your seat.
If the food appeals, and boy it should, you could try your hand at duplicating some of the recipes with one of Dudley’s well-received cookbooks. Also worth noting is The Dining Room next door, which is open for dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and for private parties.
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