The Keyes Art Mile is a wonderful amalgamation of boutique shops, galleries, the exquisitely designed Marble restaurant and two casual dining spots, namely BGR and Milk Bar. They’re a wonderfully laidback addition to a rather over-the-top, fashion-forward scene. Kate Licorish heads to Milk Bar for an Afrocentric feast.
Best for: Relaxed lunch meetings, evening drinks and live music
Parking: There is parking lot across the road on the corner of Jellicoe and Keyes avenues
Price: Average mains cost between R40 and R75
Star ratings: Food 3, service 3, ambience 4
The menu at Milk Bar has a delightfully Afrocentric feel to it, offering bunny chows, boerewors rolls, flat breads, pies, grilled meats, skewers, pregos and sandwiches. It’s unpretentious food with a price tag to match.
The sandwiches are rudimentary: fuss-free and served as such. Likewise, the flat breads are similar to a pizza in style, but with flat bread as the base. They’re appetising, but hard to compare to the great Italian pizzas on offer in the area. Instead I would recommend sticking to the grills, bunny chows, boerie rolls and pies. They’re a showcase of good old South African comfort food at its simple and flavoursome best.
The boerie rolls are a win: a little indulgent in all the right ways, because let’s be honest, no one is trying to be healthy or skinny when ordering one of these. I’d recommend the onion, shishebo (curried chakalaka) and mustard option. It’s spicy, moreish and served in a soft white bun with potato wedges. The bunny chows are another great option: take your choice of mild chicken, lamb or veg curry served in a half-loaf with a side salad, sambals and raita – a real hunger buster.
The ‘meat’ section is a starting point from which you can build your own main along with veg (corn on the cob or veggie skewers), sides (wedges, potato salad, pap or salad) and sauces (raita, atchar, chilli, shishebo and avo salsa). They offer chicken thigh skewers, rump skewers, chicken drumsticks, boerewors and lamb chops.
We opt for the rump skewers which aren’t mind-blowingly good – the cubes of meat could have been fewer and larger – but they were tasty and, served alongside delicious avocado salsa with fresh, chopped tomatoes and herbs as well as perfectly puffed and crisp wedges, it makes a great lunch.
They serve great coffee, bespoke, loose-leaf African teas and have a really cool, little bar in the centre of the restaurant if you’re just in the mood for a toot or two. They serve quarts of Black label and gin cocktails made with Inverroche (they promote SA brands wherever possible). They have a few wines and MCCs on offer, but this isn’t their main focus.
The service is friendly and the staff make themselves available. They’re not too knowledgeable about the menu itself and could definitely improve in this arena.
Being part of the Amatuli group (other restaurants include Emily Moon and Katy’s Palace) the setting is everything. It’s a gorgeously bright, eclectic scene: All the chairs are covered in different shweshwe fabrics and the walls are dripping in art from across Africa, intermingled with ferns, wooden artifacts and even a retro pinball machine. It’s relaxed and quirky – an absolute feast for the eyes.
They have great, live music evenings on Fridays as well as every First Thursday of the month, which sets the scene for a great night out.
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