Picture: GRANT BUSHBY
Picture: GRANT BUSHBY

"They thought we were too chichi and pretentious for Linden but now they’ve changed their minds," says colourful chef Amori Burger of her restaurant Van Der Linde.

It’s a little over a year since she opened in Linden but it already feels like a longtime member of the hood, which, over the past decade, has morphed from a fairly run-of-the-mill, if not old-fashioned, suburb into something of a culinary hub.

Cool-kid food and drinks spots like Brian Lara and Tonic vie for patronage alongside classics like pizza stalwart Satori and old favourite Paputzis. Of a morning you’ll see hipsters heading for breakfast favourite The Whippet, battling it out for a parking spot with the purple rinse brigade, who are making for a haberdashery, Arthur Bales, to get knitting supplies.

Down the drag, and with its contemporary grey exterior, Van Der Linde is hard to miss. It took a year to build and features a bakery and deli as well as a gin and juice bar.

The interiors are trendy — all wood, marble countertops and exposed beams. But for a vast space, it’s warm and usually buzzing, which is impressive, given that it seats 110 people. On a weekend for breakfast the restaurant has turned over 193 patrons over a couple of hours.

Burger, who hosted Afrikaans TV show Op die Spyskaart, is clearly the star of Van Der Linde. The crowds are there for her kos. She likes food that packs a punch, that knocks you over. "It mustn’t be boring."

But, she says, there’s nothing pretentious about it: "It’s just isn’t that kind of restaurant. It is a bistro, not fine dining."

To that end there’s an array of simple, internationally inspired bistro-like dishes. There’s also a burger section and interesting salads.

At first glance the menu appears pretty meat-heavy, but it turns out there is a dedicated vegan menu too, and there are other imaginative plant-based options like parmesan salad with sweet potato and butter beans. Van Der Linde is known for build-your-own breakfasts, and lunch "meals for two", where you can share a vegetable curry or lamb steak, for example.

Among meal favourites are the rib-eye, kabeljou and the parmesan-crusted chicken breast. Mind you, the menu is seasonal, so may have changed by the time you get there.

Burger says when she removes a menu item, some of her regulars cry for its return.

But she adds: "People must also just get with the programme. If they honestly don’t like it, we can see if we have ingredients to make up what they still want. They must just try something new."

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