A feast of reasons to order in
Richard Holmes hand-picks the coolest eat-in options available across SA’s big cities
Hands up: who’s sick and tired of cooking all their own meals? Who misses the joyful conviviality of the neighbourhood bistro, the subtle theatre of fine dining and the simple, unfettered delight of someone else doing the planning, shopping and cooking? (And, of course, the cleaning up afterwards.)
While the joy of breaking bread with family and friends across a restaurant table may still lie in the far-off neverland of level 1 lockdown, chefs across the country are dishing up delivery boxes and takeaways that will remind you just why eating out is such an unassailable pleasure. These are chefs who have been left without custom for more than two months and are hustling day and night to keep their kitchen lights on and staff employed. If we want those doors to still be open when the lockdown eases, they deserve our support.
So forget the fried chicken takeaway, and pass on the pizza this weekend; these fine restaurants have you covered good and proper.
Aurum Cooks @ Home
Locals didn’t get much time to book a table at Aurum — the fine dining destination in Sandton’s sparkling new high-rise — before lockdown hit. Luckily you still have the chance for a taste of what chef Darren O’Donovan has to offer. Aurum Cooks @ Home offers a pared-down menu, but with no shortage of choice of snacks, starters, salads, sides, mains and desserts. There’s also pizza from the Octo Bar; but perhaps more interesting is the Aurum home picnic, with a cornucopia of spreads, breads, preserves and charcuterie to choose from. It’s as good a reason as any to soak up some socially distanced winter sunshine. Delivery within 15km of Sandton is charged at 12.5% of the bill (minimum R200).
The Forum Kitchen
While conferences and events are usually its bread and butter, The Forum Kitchen has switched to offering online food delivery, with a focus on fresh, immune-boosting plates of goodness. Working with a dietitian, the restaurant has designed a menu of dishes aimed squarely at busy families, taking the strain off parents juggling work and (seemingly endless) home schooling. You certainly won’t go wrong with a portion of slow-braised beef short rib and a side of herbed scalloped potatoes. Menus will change weekly and are available for delivery on Tuesdays and Thursdays, initially in Johannesburg North.
Chef Andrea Burgener has a loyal following in Johannesburg, and she has swiftly pivoted from offering office workers a quick bite in her space at 44 Stanley to sending out streams of orders placed online across the city. The Leopard offers a wide range of superb ready meals that will put any supermarket foil-wrapped offering to shame. Think tilapia fishcakes swimming in syrup of sweet chilli and ginger, or a "Fordsburg-style" chicken and butterbean curry. And the classic menu items — the pata plate and vigour bowl — yum. Order by 12pm for delivery the next afternoon.
Good news and bad news. No, you still can’t enjoy the Peking duck or tiger salad at Emma Chen’s Red Chamber in Hyde Park. But happily her low-key offshoot in Linden is open for both delivery and collection. Offering the street food of Chen’s childhood, People’s Republic Of Noodles — PRON —dishes up simple meals bold in flavour and packing a punch of Sichuan spice. Start with a few of the xiao cai appetisers — the tofu and cucumber salad is a worthy stand-in for the tiger salad — or opt for a few portions of excellent dim sum. And the noodles? Expand your palate with the spicy dandan. And whatever you do, don’t forget to order a whole lot of hand-break bread. It’s addictive.
The lower floors of Hyde Park Corner may not quite have the charm of Paris (remember the notion of travelling to that city?) but the pastries at Just Teddy certainly do. With a blend of French flair and Levantine flavour, this family-owned boulangerie and pâtisserie offers an easy way to turn that tea break al desko into an occasion. Feeling flush? The towering croquembouche of profiteroles is your go-to. The restaurant is also offering a generous "brunch in a box" for Father’s Day.
The Roving Bantu
This Brixton kitchen, museum and what it calls "kultural base" dishes up generous portions of self-declared Afro-soul food. While lockdown brings a trimmed version of its menu, you’ll find the same bold African flavours delivered to your doorstep. Expect hearty bean curry, peanut-and-coconut chicken, and the restaurant’s infamously spicy chicken wings on offer. And, now that you’re alone in your home office, you can enjoy mogodu (tripe) at your keyboard without any colleagues complaining. Delivery is free near Brixton.
rovingbantu.co.za and orders via WhatsApp to 083-235-3076
Tinned tuna. That’s an unusual must-have in any fine dining experience, but it’s the dish everyone talks about at La Colombe. So of course it also forms part of its nine-course "dine-in experience" (daily, R750 a person) that’s been carefully crafted to enjoy at home. This is more than just a meal, and chef-proprietor Scot Kirton and his team have done well to transport key elements of the La Colombe experience to your front door. Look forward to the signature tuna La Colombe on the menu, Karoo lamb with salsa verde, and a whimsical "garden" to end the meal.
The Pot Luck Club
While you may not get to enjoy similar glorious city views from your own dining table, the home delivery offer from The Pot Luck Club dishes up the same memorable spread of pan-Asian small plates that has made it a staple of the city’s restaurant scene since 2013. The menu is much as you’d find atop the Old Biscuit Mill, where the restaurant is based, with 20-odd dishes to add to your lunch or dinner order. Happily that includes the excellent fish sliders, as well as the signature fillet with criminally more-ish black pepper café au lait sauce. A lunchtime bento box (R295 for one or R595 for two) is offered on weekdays, with an indulgent Sunday brunch menu (R925 for two) the perfect weekend blow-out. If you want to upgrade your experience even more, click through to the indulgent hampers and deli products created by owner-chef Luke Dale-Roberts.
Belly of the Beast
Chef-owners Neil Swart and Anouchka Horn have created quite a buzz with their intimate restaurant in the up-and-coming East City, serving an ever changing set menu to 20 diners each evening. That focus and attention to detail comes through in their carefully thought-out Belly at Home delivery menu, which similarly ranges widely across cuisines and cultures. "We’re limiting ourselves to menu options that work well in a heat-at-home situation," says Swart; but expect a five-course feast (R450 a person, Wednesdays to Sundays) featuring the likes of home-smoked snoek pâté, kudu carpaccio and braised Karoo lamb. A pared-down family menu is also available, offering good value at R450 for two.
Essentials by Ryan Cole
The talented chef behind Salsify at The Roundhouse is keeping himself busy and locals well fed with his delivery offer. First up is the dining-in menu, available mostly on weekends, which offers excellent value at R395 for two. The three-course menu changes weekly — but hold thumbs for the seared tuna and sticky rice poke bowl, or home-made butternut gnocchi. Top up your order from the Essentials range, where you’ll find a rotating shelf of deli-style goodies. One week it’s naartjie cheesecake and organic lemon curd, the next it’s chipotle mayo and rocket pesto. What’s not to love?
You’re still hungry?
The Vine Bistro, Stellenbosch
This charming bistro on Glenelly estate in the Stellenbosch winelands is a spot that delivers time after time, but never seeks the limelight. And in lockdown it is doing just the same, with its Dîner Chez Vous menu taking dinner from the restaurant’s kitchen to yours every Thursday. The menu (R160-R200 a person) changes frequently. Chef-patron Christophe Dehosse is a dab hand at contemporary bistro food. His cassoulet is a signature dish, and there will be no complaints about the pork cheek bourguignon either. Main courses are bookended by freshly baked breads with garden herb butter, and dessert of canelé Bordelais.
An inimitable sense of place has always been the hallmark of the remarkable dining experience at Wolfgat, in the west coast village of Paternoster.
And in each Wolfgat At Home hamper, chef-patron Kobus van der Merwe tries to bring his award-winning restaurant to your front door. Before you even get to the food you’ll notice the details: a map of the area; a limited edition — and signed —print of Kobus’s Wolfgat landscape paintings.
Our favourite touch? A Wolfgat playlist to stream while you indulge. And you certainly won’t go hungry.
Each hamper includes an interactive four-course meal (R900, feeding two) inspired by the current autumn menu.
Start with sourdough bread and homemade butter. Move on to seasonal snacks — ever had a stuffed soutslaai leaf? — and then the main course of Verlorenvlei lamb, mushroom and kelp. Take-aways have never been this exciting.
Parc Café, Durban
This Glenwood charmer is a local favourite in Durban, and justifiably one of the city’s most popular destinations for a lazy weekend brunch. It’s also keeping loyal locals well fed with parc. at home.
This isn’t date-night material, but rather a focused range of homely frozen dishes that take care of those days when you simply can’t face the kitchen one more time.
Look forward to fragrant butter chicken, oozy mac ’n cheese and trays of delicious melanzane. Comfort food, without you having to cook it. There are vouchers for sale too, for sending your friends and family a treat.