I regularly travel between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Therefore I thought it would make sense to extend my “eating out’ category for all those of you who come to Joburg on a regular basis, but especially for those who have never been but would like to go. People talk a lot of bollocks about Joburg, especially Capetonians. I love Cape Town, don’t get me wrong, but I am convinced that Johannesburg’s poor reputation is not deserved. People tell terrifying stories about the inner city of Jozi, but it turns out that they have absolutely no idea how gorgeous this magic place can be! Indeed, magical enough to dedicate a whole range of posts on ‘eating out spots’ in Johannesburg. Don’t avoid Joburg because of stories about crime, which are blown out of proportion – you are definitely missing out if you do that. Trust me, I speak from experience, I have lived in the very center of Johannesburg for what must have been about 2 years. As a last point let me assure you something. If you think that Cape Town is the beginning and end-all of South Africa then the City of Gold has news for you. For more stories of my adventures in Joburg, check out my Injera post.
Post at the corner of Juta and De Beer Street in Braamfontein, right in the heart of Johannesburg deserves to be the first food spot I will tell you about. Not so much because of it’s “contemporary cool” ambience, rather because the breakfast is outstanding. This is not a premature judgement. Well prepared, healthy and affordable breakfasts are not something you find that easily in the Johannesburg CBD area. Post is the place in town you want to experience a wholesome, healthy, wonderfully prepared breakfast for favourable prices. Absolutely awesome!
I prefer to stay in the CBD, when I am in Johannesburg. I fall for the Jozi vibe! Last week I went on a road-trip with my friend Humbulani, because I thought I should take a short break from Cape Town and discover something new. Our first stop is Jozi. We stay at a derelict apartment in Hillbrow opposite a police station. I never really have much time when I am in Jozi; always kind of stressed and trying to accommodate a couple of things at the same time. But not in this instance. This is my well deserved holiday, I want to take more time to discover Joburg thoroughly and tell you about it’s culinary treasures! Hillbrow is about 15 minutes away from De Beer Street, a lovely walk past the Constitution Hill and some green fields belonging to the Wits Education Campus. It’s a warm summer morning and we are off for breakfast.
When we finally arrive, I notice that I am not quite attracted by the ostentatiously imposing facade. I realize, I am just not as in love with the whole “contemporary cool look” which Post is praised for by the press. Hipster- designed restaurants don’t attract me anymore if they don’t have any kind of twist that triggers my attention. Humbulani wants to show me the place and insists on having a cup of tea and a chat. I haven’t been in Jozi for a while and so we have to catch up. I thought, why not, let’s go and have a cup of tea. I know, that doesn’t sound very exciting and as much as I love tea, I never drink it. But you know what? It was surprisingly good and made me curious for more. You can judge a good restaurant by two things; the condition of the toilet and the most simple dishes on the menu. The most simple thing on a menu can please you in a peculiar way, when it is prepared decently and made out of good quality food products. This can be appetizers or something basic like a cup of tea or coffee. I have a sip of my ginger and lemon tea and take my time to browse through the menu. A huge black-board, that hangs right next to the counter, stunned by the prices. The most expensive dish is a burger for R55, almost everything else costs you less than R35. While I am busy going over the menu with a fine-tooth comb, I notice that I am really impressed by the way it has been put together. How difficult it is nowadays for restaurant owners to choose the right combination of dishes for a menu. You shouldn’t take a good selection of dishes on a menu for granted. Many other restaurant owners follow the same principles, which is that dishes have to be tasty, healthy with a Mediterranean touch and above all, and what is most typical, contemporary menus have to be simple but not boring in any way. A challenging balance act within the competing restaurant scene. It is intended to escape otherwise complicated kitchen gymnastics, yet many restaurants don’t seem to make the grade. Post on the other hand manages to hit the nail on the head. They make the balancing act seem like child’s play. Gordon Ramsay has been championing this notion of having a simple menu and it’s nice to see that some are taking the advice. Let’s stop philosophising for now and have some lekker breakfast.
I am hungry and push the low-carbs diet to the back of my mind. A little too far back into my mind I guess, because this is a real feast! I can see the waitress smiling at us mischievously, while we order one dish after the other, she is probably thinking “Where the hell are these two boys stuffing all this food?”
Altogether we had French toast with Camembert, fig preserve and crispy bacon, flapjacks with Nutella, Italian scrambled eggs with Chorizo and Buffalo mozzarella, freshly baked rye bread with butter and homemade gooseberry jam and carrot cake! The Italian eggs take a little getting used to, but they are nice. The tomato sauce was actually freshly prepared and tastes fresh and light. The bacon is fried to perfection and the homemade marmalade is fantastic. I notice the difference, Joburg service is genuine and efficient, no-one bugging you all the time, asking you unnecessary questions or interrupting your conversation. A Joburg waitress doesn’t feel the need to be everybody’s darling, she maintains a kind of clinical attitude while still seeming spirited. The people of Johannesburg are generally confident, direct and natural as opposed to the deliberately casual, contrived chirpers you find elsewhere. A Jozi girl has what all the other girls are dreaming of, go and witness this for yourself. While Cape Town has it’s breathtaking nature and scenic atmosphere – Johannesburg has it’s people; genuine, hospitable and they certainly know how to drive a car!
Review by Dennis Molewa