Review: The Shadowboxer

Best for: Relaxed dinners and easy lunches
Parking: On the street
Price: Average mains between R70 to R95
Star ratings: Food 3, Service 3, Ambience 3

It’s a bit of a crazy mix of everything and anything here at The Shadowboxer, from pizzas to burgers and contemporary Asian cuisine – come breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you tend to struggle with menus that are so all-encompassing, ask the waiters for suggestions on what’s best. The breakfast menu is an amalgamation of hearty breakfasts, ‘breakfast bowls’ (saucy, egg breakfasts served in a bowl), a few tasty oat and muesli choices and some gloriously decadent waffles (the vanilla and chocolate waffle – served with vanilla ice cream, brownie pieces, salted caramel ganache and cinnamon sprinkle – sounds like it would entice any sweet tooth).

If you’re there for dinner, though, peruse the eclectic selection of nibbles, flatbreads, salads, gourmet burgers, pizzas, platters, steamed bao buns, mains and curries. The bao buns are highly recommended: warm, steamed buns filled with a wonderfully sticky choice of BBQ short rib, honey and soy duck, spicy pulled pork, basil yogurt pulled chicken or crunchy slaw and tzatziki, all served with hand-cut chips. Sadly, they were out of stock that night – we’ll have to go back. Instead we opted for some crispy BBQ chicken wings to start, followed by a gourmet cheese burger and a chicken caprese salad.

The chicken wings were just great: lightly battered and fried before being dunked in a sweet hoisin sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds and spring onions – you can’t go wrong. The gourmet burger was almost as good, but their patty recipe needs reworking – it was cooked medium-well, but crumbled to pieces. The meat was tasty, but a burger patty should be dense and juicy enough to hold together – if they get this right, the burgers will rock. The hand-cut chips and homemade sauces where a win.

The chicken caprese salad surprised me – I wasn’t sure about pairing Sriracha pulled chicken with mozzarella and tomato, but the result was delicate, tasty and refreshing – a great option for a light lunch on a hot day. All in all the menu is very hit and miss – if they condense it, concentrating on doing fewer things exceptionally well, they’ll be on their way to a winning formula.

  A photo posted by The Shadowboxer (@shadowboxerjhb) on

There’s an Alice in Wonderland-like feel to their extraordinary drinks menu: you’ll find everything from bubble teas to craft tea sodas, milkshakes and crazy cocktails – it’s fun and the crowds love it. The wine list is quite predictable and a little overpriced – it’s best to stick to beers and cocktails.

The service is rudimentary, the staff could be a tad friendlier and the presence of a manager was lacking.

Being both a restaurant and lounge venue, it’s very cool and carefree. The bar itself is grand and picturesque and there are sumptuous leather couches dotted between the tables. High ceilings and cool lighting add to the appeal and an open veranda enclosed by fairy lights makes for awesome alfresco dining.

As it’s owned by the same guys who started The Good Luck Bar, watch out for live music gigs and know that there will always be good music. It’s a great place to pop in for a drink or two, regardless of whether you stay for dinner.


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