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While most of Johannesburg’s suburbs have undergone independent revamps that have taken them from sleepy to vibey, Melville has always been an area you can rely on for a good time. There are, however, more restaurants taking their food seriously, and Lonely Hearts is one such spot. The concept is simple, a tapas bar, with interesting cocktails and a convivial vibe.
The menu is divided up into vegetarian, seafood, poultry and meaty dishes, and is rounded off with dessert. The dishes that fall under each section, which are designed to be shared, are an interesting mix of failsafe crowd pleasers – like the crispy squid heads with an accompanying lime aioli-type sauce perfect for dipping or thr fried haloumi with punchy mago atchar– and unusual tempting dishes like the three cheese fondue with goat’s cheese croquette and crispy poppadoms, where a melty mix of blue cheese, mozzarella and emmenthal reminds you why it’s good to break away from the norm. The only criticism here is that there aren’t enough poppadoms to lap up all the fondue, but I strongly suggest you order a side of truffle fries for this exact purpose. On the poultry offering, you can look out for the duck cigar, with slow cooked duck wrapped in phyllo, and a miniature bunny chow, which was tasty albeit a little dry.
It’s clear from the unimaginative wine list that the focus here is the cocktails, which include classic Negronis, Martinis and French 75s, as well as some inventive concoctions like the Hey Jude, with orange juice, Caperitif, gin and bubbly.
The front of house staff are all working to the collective goal of ensuring you have a fun time, so are really laid-back and chatty, while still getting the job done.
The moody, speakeasy-like interior is the ideal place to enjoy a little tete-a-tete with a special someone, while the fairy-lit courtyard is dreamy for a bigger crowd. They host a number of events every month, plus a weekend brunch with a great-looking menu.
Best for tapas dishes designed for sharing with innovative cocktails and a convivial vibe.