With its origins rooted in the mining industry, the city of Benoni on Gauteng’s East Rand is today home to foodie gems that are delighting both locals and those willing to travel.
By Janice Healing
BEST FOR EXOTIC FLAVOURS
Established by Ivonne Taylor 13 years ago, Lemongrass is one of only a few Dutch-Indonesian restaurants in South Africa. Born in the Netherlands but raised in South Africa, Ivonne fell in love with the old-world charm of the house that now accommodates the restaurant. She decided to establish a place where she could serve the cuisine she knew and loved best, while allowing her creative streak to flow with the decor. The result is an enchanting space where luxurious fabrics, bay windows, lanterns and an array of Indonesianinspired objects create the perfect ambience in which to serve aromatic dishes that pay homage to the cuisine of both countries. The legendary rijsttafel comprises a table buffet of exotic dishes, including chicken satay with spicy peanut sauce, Indonesian chicken curry, sweet and sour pork with nasi or bahmi and kroepoek. Other favourites are the Dutch beef croquettes, the nasi or bahmi goreng as well as good old-fashioned bobotie. On the dessert front, you would be wise to sample the pisang goreng or the Dutch milk tart.
Call 011-422-6741 or visit www.lemongrass.co.za.
BEST FOR TRADITIONAL PUB FARE
One of Benoni’s oldest and best-loved food hang-outs is Grapes Pub & Restaurant, which has been providing hearty pub grub to enthusiasts for more than 18 years. But it is more than a great place to get a pint or three – it has become an intrinsic part of the city landscape and locals rave about its mix of traditional pub and contemporary restaurant. The relaxed outside seating area features wooden tables and benches, while inside the mood is more upscale yet warm and inviting. The portions are generous, so go hungry and you won’t be disappointed, especially if you order one of their fabulous pies. The steak and Guinness pie is meant for one but is large enough to feed two, although once you taste it you may not be willing to share. Other items worth a mention are the steaks, lamb cutlets, eisbein, and the liver and onions. On weekends live music can be enjoyed while you savour all that Grapes has to offer. Call 011-422-4276.
BEST FOR COUNTRY CHARM
Rustic down-to-earth fare in a quaint garden setting, complete with tinkling fountain and cobble stones, have ensured that The Secret Garden has remained anything but secret. Nestled at the back of the Victorian-styled Uncle Tim’s Centre in Brentwood Park, it is favoured by locals who have come to love the charms offered by the restaurant over the last 12 years. Two years ago the restaurant was bought by Eleanor Geldard, who was drawn to the beauty and tranquillity of the place, complemented by appetising food. Favoured dishes include the gravlax and the Welsh rarebit, and the legendary lemon meringue pie has visitors flocking from afar to get their sweet fix. It is the perfect place to take a break after ambling through the centre, which also houses antique stores, a herbal shop, nursery, jewellery manufacturer and second-hand book shop. Call 083 297 6612.
BEST FOR BREAKFAST
Café Bellini is located in the gracious leafy suburb of Western Extension, which is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, including Indian, Moroccan and Dutch-Indonesian establishments. At Café Bellini the emphasis is on old world charm updated with chic decor, combined with contemporary cuisine. The interior boasts pressed ceilings, wooden floors, fireplaces and lead windows, while patios and a gorgeous garden allow for alfresco dining. Breakfasts here are a real treat, and the 16 variations will have you coming back for more. Lunch is also served, and includes baguettes, salads and flame grills, while those keen for high tea can sample home-baked goodies that include baklava and Greek shortbread. And those in the mood for a bit of retail therapy can browse at the in-house Gigalicious gift shop and Bling jewellery store. Call 011-023-0128 or visit www.cafebellini.co.za.
BEST FOR CASUAL ELEGANCE
Although a relative newcomer to the Benoni foodie scene, having only opened a year ago, Fahrenheit has quickly become the go-to place for great food in a modern gorgeous setting. The restaurant was custom-built and is set on four levels. As you enter the vast space it is clear that this is an establishment where as much attention has been paid to the creation of a warm and inviting ambience as there is to serving great food. Dark furniture combined with eye-catching wooden sculptures and unusual wall hangings make for interesting visual appeal. The menu offers endless choices, including a selection of seafood and grills, with the piquanté pepper and feta stuffed steak in particular warranting a taste. And despite the elegant surroundings, it is great for families, with a covered deck overlooking a kiddies’ play area. Call 011-425-5765 or visit www.fgrill.co.za.
BEST FOR RELAXED DINING
Another foodie institution is Trinchado’s, which has delighted with its seafood and grills for more than 12 years. Located
in Northmead Square, the restaurant is popular for trinchados and espetadas but is equally strong when it comes to divine seafood platters. The calming earthy tones and contemporary decor provide for a relaxed space in which to tuck into the food. Live music is on the menu on weekends and an outdoor area features a cocktail bar where you can chill out to good tunes.
Call 011-425- 0824