The jozi scene - word of mouth

Getting into gear for the festive season in a post-lockdown South Africa has become the next goal for some restaurateurs, for those that had to re-open after months of inactivity and those trying to start something new as the pandemic slows down and business picks back up.

We’re Highlighting the top 5 newly opened post-pandemic dining spots to look out for in Johannesburg for the rest of this year, we enjoy seeing the ever evolving creativity and ingenuity that keeps blossoming out of the country’s culinary scene, with some establishments having to close down, we’re blessed with brand new places to go, keeping up with ever changing restrictions and managing to make their mark and stay afloat.

Isaac Lediga gives us a peek at what’s hip, hot and happening in Jozi!

Lokshini Kitchen and Braai Shack

Nestled in the cultural hub of Sophiatown, The Lokshini Kitchen and braai shack lends a unique perspective to homestyle cooking mixed with street style nuances, true to its name, it brings a taste of township life to the streets of Joburg. The butchery-style set up of the space immediately takes you back to your favourite shisanyama moment, with artwork from local artists, an elevated dining area and laid back Pub-style décor, it’s a warm welcome into your home away from home

Husband and wife team Victor and Thandi Ngwenya opened Lokshini Kitchen & Braai Shack in August out of their love of African cuisine and open fire cooking. Lokshini Kitchen offers a soulful food experience that fits right in with the kaleidoscope of cultures that is found in Yeoville.

The menu offers traditional staple foods such as Mogodu (tripe), Inhloko (deboned cow-head meat), Beef Stew, Umleqwa (organic farm chicken), Chomolia (African kale), Umngqusho (mealie samp), dombolo (steamed bread), pap, chakalaka and flame-grilled meat.

A Lokshini Kitchen signature dish is the Skop (sheep’s head) or smiley as it is popularly known in the townships. The restaurant has a special weekend menu serving up specialities such as oxtail, goat stew and the classic Seven Colours feast on Sundays.
The ritual of welcoming guests with a glass of Gemere (ginger beer) or Amahewu (fermented pap drink) adds to the experience.

The Wild Side

Located in Craighall Park, west of Sandton, this quaint yet lively gem immediately pulls you in with its vibrant colours, neon purple signage and most likely some live music if you pull up at the right time.
The Wild Side is indeed an exploration of all things wild from the Décor to the menu, with its quaint yet modernized take on African Elegance featuring deep rich colours contrasted by gold finishes and bright pink & green accents.
The atmosphere gives off a well-travelled, cultured vibe with laid back, welcoming approach; Zebra taxidermy hangs on the wall among an assemblage of contemporary and vintage artwork.
Brown leather couches and rustic wooden high chairs neutralize the burst of colour that surrounds you as you step in, almost as if Ace Ventura made a stop at Tokyo fashion week.

The menu is just as broad and eccentric with a focus on delivering fine dining standard without the pretentious chokehold. The word play on most of the title of dishes goes a long way, a clever addition to the entertainment.
You could find yourself ordering the “Travelling Pornstar” ,a German sausage hot dog, dressed in caramelized onions & kimchi; the “Polly Amory” a deep fried Toblerone slab with citrus ice cream; or the appropriately named “Dad Joke” An embarrassingly cheesy four-cheese pizza with Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano and Mature cheddar.
The intention behind the cleverly named dishes was to allow for more engagement and a bit of a laugh while deciding what to order. The extensive menu features light meals, burgers, pizzas, generous mains, dessert and a breakfast menu that has 5 different variations of the classic Eggs Benedict.
Accompanying the ingenuity of the menu is the creative selection of the cocktails and wine list. The quirky, easy going vibe doesn’t take away from the quality of the food and every dish is a reflection of the attention to detail while allowing yourself to have some fun, whether it’s inside or at the outdoor seating enjoying live music or a live DJ set.

The Peeping Tom

Another culinary gem right on the corner of Bolton Road and Jan Smuts Avenue in Parkhurst’s prime casual dining neighbourhood is The Peeping Tom, a refreshing splash of colour and sass that lives up to its name with a menu that is just as debaucherous.
The high ceilings and warm lighting give it a lofty 80’s art deco vibe contrasted against neon signage and wooden furniture just to remind you where you are, and also what year it is.
The restaurant’s signature is its tongue-in-cheek attitude that’s reflected in its menu and the insta-worthy “Fancy as f_ck” pink neon sign. Although they insist that identity is anti-fancy, the focus is on the decadent menu which is prepared and served with fine-dining sensibilities but doesn’t necessarily kiss a$$. Food highlights include the Boozy Cock, a bourbon-infused pulled chicken bun; and the Fillet Dianne with butterbean mash, which is one of their most popular dishes.
The Sultry Salmon with creamed cauli-mash, pomegranate pearls and toasted coconut served with a flatbread is also a must-have plate. With an equally sexy cocktail and mocktail menu, this is one place to enjoy a casual night out with friends.

Proud Mary Eaterie and Wine Bar

In the heart of Rosebank’s vibrant foodie district, Proud Mary sits pretty at the ground floor of ‘The Bank’ a 13-storey mixed-use building that houses the Voco Hotel, Penthouse offices and co working spaces.

Newly opened by restaurateurs Gary Hollywood and Warren Murley, the building’s black, deep face brick façade gives way to contrasting tones of oxblood, teal and emerald, which together with textures of plush fabrics, natural wood finishes, terrazzo and brass harks back to New York’s golden age. Elegant, chic and luxurious but comfortable, the interior is meant to give the feel of a New York Brasserie but isn’t too intimidating, they’ve managed create a space that’s both trendy and timeless.

The menu carries its Chef Christo Nortier’s refreshing “less-is-more” philosophy that pairs maximum flavour with minimum fuss, showcasing the beauty of the produce he gets to work with. A strong ethos of locality follows this produce-driven mentality, with the chef determined to support local businesses, farmers, and fisheries wherever possible when creating his dishes.

The menu is extensive and draws from cuisines the world over — offering up a refined, casual and modern approach to dining — which is sure to be accessible to most, if not all, who visit.

You can enjoy a few small plates for the table, dig into one of their grander café plates or, even go for something off the grill. The sticky pork belly with teriyaki, fresh chilli and coriander is mouth-wateringly tender and bursting with flavour, and if you’re in the mood for something bigger, try their signature Porchetta: an oven roasted pork belly stuffed with pistachio mortadella.

The raw seafood bar is an exciting addition and includes a selection of fresh seafood dishes including oysters, sea bass ceviche, tartare and sashimi. Guests are invited to sit at the bar — a dedicated section of the restaurant — as the delicacies are created, glass of Champagne in hand — optional, but highly recommended.

A seriously impressive wine programme has been conceptualized by Angela Jordaan, showcasing a host of exemplary and unusual wines at superb price points. In addition, there’s also a generous Champagne list, a selection of international wines and a cocktail menu featuring both classic and creative cocktails.

The Shortmarket Club Johannesburg

Award-winning Chef Luke Dale Roberts’ newly opened restaurant The Shortmarket Club stamps a permanent mark on Joburg’s food scene after a series of successful pop-ups around Gauteng.

This definitely is the place for a unique and bespoke experience, as soon as you step in, the warm welcoming atmosphere, open-plan dining area that doesn’t feel like a hall but boasts ample space, it’s cozy yet extremely sophisticated. The décor has elements such as rich deep tones, warm lighting, old fashioned touches and accents of leather, brass and fluted glass all artfully staged in a heritage brasserie and smoky cigar lounge type setting.

The menu offers a selection of fine-dining small plates, Asian-influences complemented by a variety of succulent prime cuts of the finest meat cooked to order and decadent seafood platters.

Unlike the Cape Town restaurant, the Joburg location will offer both inside and outside seating perfect for social distancing and summer dining.