At Burnside restaurant, siblings Jessica and Dillon du Plessis keep to the philosophy of a home away from home, friendly service and fresh, simple food.
“My parents encouraged me to follow my passions in life, so I couldn’t wait to leave school and study food,” says Jessica du Plessis, who, with her brother Dillon, owns Burnside’s restaurant in Joburg’s leafy central suburb of Craighall. Today they are hosting a brunch table for friends on the lawns, featuring their signature fresh and tasty food.
Jessica and Dillon opened Burnside’s four years ago. “It was something my brother and I had always spoken about, but we never expected to happen,” says Jessica. When they drove past an old white house on Burnside Avenue for rent – with a large veranda and generous front garden – their dreams turned into a reality. “We always wanted to have a restaurant that wasn’t in a shopping mall. We fell in love with the willow tree, and the lovely Italian family who owned the house said that if we fixed it up they’d give us a few months off the rent. This was the kickstart we needed.”
When Burnside’s initially opened, Jessica and Dillon served breakfast and lunch, but soon impressed locals requested the venue for dinner parties and for the duo to cater meals at their homes. They quickly made the decision to do away with weekday breakfasts and instead focus on serving dinner from Tuesday to Saturday.
Jessica says her style of food is very relaxed, focusing on fresh, quality ingredients and great flavours, adding that anyone who knows her is aware she especially loves cooking with fresh herbs. One dish they can’t remove from the menu is the French toast,
served either with crispy bacon and Emmenthal cheese or mascarpone and fruit. Another dish enjoyed early in the day is poached eggs, baby spinach and roast onion relish with crispy bacon on toast. Later in the day chicken pot pie is a favourite (shredded roast chicken cooked with mushrooms and their homemade chicken stock and cream) as well as fishcakes, made fresh daily with ginger, lemon and Cape Malay spices.
With Jessica trained as a chef at Prue Leith Chefs Academy and Dillon having studied photography, it’s clear this is a creative duo. “Both our parents are creative and we grew up in a home where all forms of art were encouraged,” says Jessica. Their father, Hannes du Plessis, is an artist, and his works are exhibited with a collection of other works in the stylish gallery space adjoining the restaurant.
“Dillon and I work well as a team because we don’t have different roles,” Jessica explains. “While I do tend to be slightly more involved in the kitchen, I value Dillon’s opinion and he enjoys being in the kitchen too. We trust each other with every aspect of the restaurant, which allows us the freedom to rely on each other and also take an important step back when needed.”
6 Burnside Ave, Craighall,
Johannesburg. Call 011-326-3970
or visit possumsonburnside.co.za.