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Sandton, the financial hub of the country, is as busy as ever with cranes, congestion and corporate headquarters by day, but at lunch and as the sun sets there’s plenty of leisure and entertainment to be found in the bolshy powerhouse.

New supper club and Sandton spot of the moment Alice & Fifth is striking and bold but feels as if it’s hidden away. Maybe that’s the plan.

Downstairs from the Sandton Sun near where the Vilamoura restaurant once was, it oozes decadence. If you want light, fresh and airy, this isn’t your kind of place. But if you’re beguiled by dark (there are no windows), sexy, detailed, and sumptuous environments mixed with an elegant sense of the avant-garde, this could hit the spot.

At the entrance a bottle of Louis XIII cognac is displayed in a cabinet on the wall. The bottle is valued at R240,000 and a shot will cost you R8,000. The interior is about velvet, wood, marble, intricate white panelling, reds and greens. In various sections, there are groupings of what comes to 8,000 rich maroon tassels hanging from the ceiling, imported from India.

Real fur from Iceland covers various chairs. Old-world panelling covers walls that futuristically bend to become ceilings.

The interior is by Tristan du Plessis, whose own Studio A has only been around for three years but has already won international awards.

The menus are a story of their own. On a digital touch screen, the cocktails tell their own story with images of serpents and The Wolf of Wall Street clearly evoking temptation. Cocktails range from R150 to R270. The menu is meat-heavy, clearly catering to male patrons. Resident DJ Leo plays Afro house and deep house from Thursday to Saturday and there’s a revue bar, though apparently it’s seen more as interactive theatre.

There’s a members-only section and to play in this part of the club it will set you back R50,000 worth of alcohol for the year.

Some of this — with your name engraved on it — will be kept in a beautiful cabinet.

The supper club seats about 225 people. There’s no cover charge. Average spend on a meal is probably around R1,500, says one of the managers.

And close by …

Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention Saint, the cool kid Italian joint. The interiors of The Marc shopping centre’s cavernous restaurant are beautiful, star chef David Higgs serves up pizza and burrata, and it’s always heaving with customers. Down the drag, the San Deck on the rooftop of the Sandton Sun has had a R15m revamp. There’s nothing to beat being on top of the world looking out onto buildings that are dormant for the night, amid big flashy signs.

You’re sure to find people "living their best lives" on the spacious deck during the day, but it’s at night when it really comes alive. Drinks and cocktails with fires to keep things warm when there’s a nip in the air. Premium local booze, imported spirits, champagne, sparkling wine and bespoke cocktails are on the menu. Before you go hungry it’s worth knowing that a boerewors roll will set you back R115; it’s R140 for bunny chow and a mini dessert is R140.

For those seeking happy hour there’s the Skye Bar at the Holiday Inn on Rivonia Road where from 5pm to 6pm you get two for the price of one (excluding cocktails and wine). It’s a fine way to avoid congestion and there’s also a striking view from the enclosed bar area.

The new expansive Food Lover’s Eatery in The Marc on Rivonia Road focuses on the lunch crowd. It’s where Village Walk used to be, and here you get to experience a New York deli vibe. So, it’s mostly quick food such as pizza, sushi and hot meals from dedicated stations such as the Grill Shack, Pisa Pizza and Hot Gourmet.

It’s like a sophisticated food hall, along the lines of Eataly, the popular open-plan food hall concept in the US. To get a sense of the potential of this market, three Food Lover’s Eateries in the Cape Town CBD sell 10,000-15,000 meals a day between them.

On the quieter side, Lexi’s Healthy Eatery has been making waves. Close to the JSE, it’s open until 9pm every day and serves plant-based food — colourful, nutritious and just what health-conscious shoppers have been looking for. There’s even an activated-charcoal burger. This new spot provides a refreshing alternative to the meat-heavy restaurants in the area.

And then there’s the new skyscraper on the horizon. The Leonardo in Sandton is set to be the tallest building in SA. It will offer luxury residential units in the form of apartments and penthouse suites, a business and conference centre, gym and spa, restaurants and a lifestyle and recreation zone. The building will be open for business by the middle of this year.

Taller, bigger, faster. Your basic Sandton motto.

Awakening to someting new

Lexi Monzeglio, the co-owner of Lexi’s Healthy Eatery, says the feedback they’ve received since opening has been overwhelming. “There’s this global mindset shift where people realise we can’t continue to consume the way we were consuming.

“People seem to be excited there’s something different, new, servicing a market that has few vegan restaurants.”

Close to the JSE, Primedia, Investec, Nedbank, RMB and FNB, Lexi’s isn’t even a year old, but it’s already tough to find a table for lunch, its busiest time. Delivery is also an important component and about 20% of its revenue is through Uber Eats. “Though Sandton is at the forefront of business in SA, the food scene here has been quite dated until recently. There seems to be an awakening,” Monzeglio says.


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