This happens when you are on a sabbatical and think you have all the time you want on your hands – your friends think it is time to find new spots in town and you volunteer to do the research and the bookings. So it happened that for the month of April it was my task to be adventurous and actually check out new spots. I would just like to add that my friends are very judgmental… you can imagine how nervous I was at the beginning of each time we tried out a new spot.
Sin+Tax Bolton Road seems to be the new place to be at anyway. A couple of new restaurants have opened up on the corner of Bolton Road and Jan Smuts. There is Bolton Road Collection (Which is next up on my to-eat-out-list), then there is Coalition Pizza which is a great spot to have Pizza e Vino. And then there is Sin+Tax somewhere adjacent to Coalition Pizza. However, the entrance is actually in a side alley next to Coalition Pizza and rumor has it that you can only get in with a password. All in the New York “speakeasy” kind of bar vibe. The interior is simple but effective. The owner and head mixologist Julian just won the local World Class Bartender competition and will be representing South Africa in the World Finals (by the way another Sin+Tax bartender become third.. so if two of the best South African mixologists work in the same bar, you know it is worth the visit). Julian has a “main menu” and a seasonal one, which actually changes today as I write this. So, I am very excited to go back and try the new winter cocktail menu. My recommendation would be to come in smaller groups, maybe a max of 6 people. More gets tricky in terms of nice seating and the guys at Sin+Tax are also quite selective on the number of people they let in, which I guess makes half of the “Old New York days” vibe.
Workshop 55 Next on my list was Workshop 55 in Parktown North (one of my favourite neigbourhoods anyway). It is tucked away in an old residential home right on 7th Avenue, and is made of a bar area and a restaurant area with an open kitchen. We started off in the bar area with some amazing Gin and Tonics. Then went over to our table. It works with a flat fee, so basically each guest pays a flat fee of 240 ZAR and gets three tapas-like dishes. If you want more, you pay extra. It is ideal for sharing on the table and to be honest, it was enough for all of us. We didn’t even have space for dessert. After dinner, we went back to the bar area. You can easily spend your whole night there without having to move to another place since restaurant and bar area are completely separate and quite different in style, too.
Marble Although not a newbie in our experience-seeking and tried & tested successfully since December, it is worthwhile mentioning it in this context. Situated on the top floor of the Trumpet Building in Rosebank, Marble offers great views of Johannesburg and especially beautiful views for sunsets. Again, here you have the choice of going to the bar only or to combine bar and restaurant. The dining experience is amazing, a truly South African 5* braai – the Chef might not like my blunt description but since I am not a food blogger I might get away with it (the fact that he is easy on the eye might attract a lot of female guests, so I have heard).
I’ve done it in other cities, so why not in my own city. I’ve sent visitors on it, but never went on my own. So, with time off work and another visitor arriving in Johannesburg, I thought, let me give it a try, too. And so I ended on the Red City Sightseeing Bus discovering Johannesburg. Since I last put a visitor on the bus, a lot has changed to the positive. Starting point is now directly at Rosebank (used to be Park Station), they added the Green Tour to start with which takes you through the leafy suburbs of Rosebank, Parktown, Houghton, Parkview, past Zoo Lake, the Zoo and finally stops at Constitution Hill where you can swap to the Red Tour which takes you through Braamfontain, through downtown Jozi, the south of Johannesburg and stops at the Apartheid Museum. From there, you can now swap into a Red mini bus and start your Soweto tour.
seeing the Northern Suburbs from a higher perspective by sitting on the upper level. You can actually look over all the fences and walls and see the most amazing manor houses.
Constitution Hill! A definite must for every South African. The Constitutional Court Building is accessible for visitors and it’s definitely worth to see. Amazing art is displayed in the public areas. Constitution Hill itself is definitely worth a walk around.
The narrative on the bus is brilliantly done, I still learned a lot by driving through town.
We had a local Soweto guy who was our Soweto Tour guide and he was brilliant – Mbali Blessing is his name.
Start in Rosebank
Swap buses at Constitution Hill but make sure to spend a good hour there
Constitutional Court of South Africa
Art dismayed at the Constitutional Court
Constitutional Court of South Africa
Cosntituinional Court of South African
Going through downtown Johannesburg
Start of the Soweto Tour at FNB Soccer Stadium
Welcome to Diepkloof/Soweto
Carlton Centre: which is one of the stops on the Red Tour. You can go up to the 50th level and have a 360 degree view of greater Johannesburg. However, the so called “Eye of Africa” really needs a makeover, or at least a clean up. At least the windows would need a clean up.
If you book the Soweto Tour you won’t really make it inside the Apartheid Museum due to time constraints, which is a pity, cause this should really be a Must for anyone visiting Johannesburg.
Unfortunately there is also not enough time to walk around in Soweto a lot. There is so much more to do. So, the 2 hours tour is good for a first insight, but not long enough (however, Mbali offers private longer tours on his days off.. ask him if you want to and have time) He will even walk through his neighborhood with you and introduce you to the locals and yes, you can feel pretty safe with him.
If you plan to visit Johannesburg or if you live there.. give it a try! It is definitely worth it.
Maboneng is so much more than just “Market on Main” or the “Living Room”. I have been to Maboneng before, usually on a Sunday to go to the market, meet with friends and maybe enjoy a drink at the mentioned Living Room. However, I have never really walked around the streets of Maboneng, looked at all the amazing street art that can be found all over, took in the energy this place, listened to some great live music, had a coffee/lunch stop at creative place and just felt so happy to be calling Johannesburg my home. Continue reading “Maboneng”→
I will miss this city. That’s for sure. I hated it when I first moved here 9 years ago and I know that I will miss it like crazy when my time comes to an end here. Maybe that’s the reason why I look at it with a different eye now? Or perhaps, it has really changed over the past couple of years so much that the perception has changed too. Continue reading “Saturdays are meant to be spent in Braam”→
The hype about Kramerville has been around for a while now – so it’s not as if I am giving away any secret insider tips..Yet, it seems the hype hasn’t slowed down yet, like it is the case with so many trendy things. Instead there are continuously new places opening and new things to explore. Continue reading “Reasons why I love Jo’burg #6 – Kramerville”→
The City of Gold aka Johannesburg is creative. We might not have the best natural surroundings for bungee jumps, but we have the Orlando Towers in Soweto. An old power plant with two cooling towers, colourful decorated. I have driven past a few times already and I have seen it on various TV shows. However, actually being there is a complete different feeling and I feel something that the city can be proud of and advertise more to international visitors as well.
So, we were invited of the press launch of a new TV show (the same one that I took with to Switzerland). First time I drove to Soweto myself in my car – an experience I was more afraid of than necessary. Probably all the bad publicity that is still linked with Soweto (although the PR engine is doing a very good job to steadily improve Soweto’s image). There is a bar/ restaurant/ pub attached to the towers “Chaf Pozi” where we met and where the official part was held, where we got local food and from where the brave ones went up the towers. Chaf Pozi is quite an interesting place. Something, I can only recommend to all Jo’burger: just take a drive out on a Sunday, have lunch there, a drink and watch people jump. Such a viby place. Go with a bunch of friends and who knows maybe the one or other is even keen to jump….
Johannesburg is certainly not comparable to a New York or a London or a Paris when it comes to coffee shop culture. Not even a Cape Town. The news is though: it is developing. The trend is to go away from indoor malls and to go outside. With this trend comes along the opening of coffee shops all around the city. Individually decorated, eclectic flair, inviting to just hang out.
Winter is supposed to be here…I remember clearly May’s first weekend last year. I just came back from a stunning Colombia and Prague trip and I was welcomed back by rain and the cold. No sign of winter this year around. It is actually hot hot hot.
I love summer, don’t get me wrong. But I was ready for winter already. Having already bought gorgeous winter outfits, I want to wear them!!! And soups.. I can’t wait for it to be cold enough to enjoy all the tasty Woolie’s soups. Instead I am wearing shorts and getting sun-burned.
Am I seriously complaining? I don’t mean to because I am actually loving it. The warmth, the colours.. especially the colours. Just amazing. It reminds me so much of Europe in autumn. Colourful leaves all over Jozi – so beautiful.
Last Friday I had dinner in Parkhurst. It was quite a long time ago since I last went there – and I realized that I’ve missed it! Life in Parkhurst is different from life in Sandton. Fact. A bit more laid back, maybe. Maybe more bohemian? Definitely livelier!
4th Ave in Parkhurst gives me the sort of street life you find in Europe. It is one of the only streets in Jozi where things are actually happening in the street. You find street cafés, restaurants with tables on the pavement, shops accessible from the street and not hidden away in a shopping centre. The perfect weekend “La-dolce-vita” getaway without getting away.
While having been there for dinner, I saw that a whole lot of new shops have opened – so my goal for this Saturday is to make it back to Parkhurst (if you know Jozi, you know it’s a bit of a schlep to drive to that side of town from where I am.. or maybe I’m just lazy) and stroll through the boutiques and interior decor shops on 4th Avenue!
The word of the post today is: “Steak“. I have never tasted a better piece of meat than in South Africa. Not even in Argentina. (A possible explanation for my judgment may be that my taste buds have just not been so developed back then). Yet again, South Africa is famous for its delicious beef. Jo’burg is any meat-lover’s paradise. You can find the best steakhouses with all sorts of meat varieties. For me, it is usually either a nice ostrich fillet or a “normal” beef fillet. (Apparently ostrich is the healthier choice).
I had already heard a lot about “Wombles” but never made it there. It is this sort of restaurant where you only go for 2 reasons: #1 a date and #2 a business dinner. Since I am boycotting dates, it leaves me with option 2! So, I was lucky that we had some visitor from our European head offices over for a market visit. And that’s how I finally ended up there! It was amazing. The food (I ordered the beef fillet as a main this time) was to die for. I can’t remember having ever had such a perfect fillet before. The wine was divine too.. our house-internal wine connoisseur (aka as our sales manager) chose a Graham Beck, Shiraz 2008! It climbed straight up to the top of my favourite list! Basically from zero to hero in just one dinner!
I guess it is also the ambience that makes Wombles one of the best steak house in Jozi. The setting is stunning. Spots on the veranda are the best. It is a mixture of traditional steakhouse flair and a bit of African safari feel. Not in a kitschy way that would only attract tourists, rather sophisticated enough to impress the locals, too.
My verdict: an evening well spent: unforgettable meals and wine, great company and a stunning venue!
Wombles Steakhouse 17 3rd Avenue Parktown North Johannesburg
Johannesburg (aka Jo’burg or Jozi) is not at all as bad as most people think. It actually is a pretty cool city to live in. Its reputation totally underestimated. Wrongly portrait by the media (especially overseas). So, I have decided to start a series on my blog called “Reasons why I love Jo’burg”. Seeing Jozi through the eyes of a foreigner and at the same time through the eyes of an inhabitant of this city – not born here, not raised here, moved here under “pressure” and yet… somehow fallen in love with this place.
I didn’t like this place at all when I first moved here. It took me about 2 years to like the place and another year to love it. (Not entirely my fault). I must admit that in the past 5 years the city has evolved big time. Things are changing, suburbs being restored and a hip and trendy (almost Soho-like) subculture has found its way into Jo’burg.
This weekend I checked-out the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. It opened its doors in September 2011 but I didn’t make it last year. So, finally I went!
Things to buy @ Neighbourgoods Market in Johannesburg
It’s a Saturday well spent! You can indulge yourself in all sorts of delicious food, wines,.. anything your gourmet taste desires.. At the same time, it is a hip spot to meet with friends and strangers while sipping your glass of Prosecco with a view of Jozi downtown.
My verdict: An attempt for urban regeneration well accomplished!
73 Juta Street
Every Saturday 09h00 – 15h00
This is my second post about Sandton in just a week!
The thing is that Sandton is actually not worth writing home about. Attributes like “boring”, “bland”, “unelectrified”, “unthrilled” (and so on and so on..) would have probably popped into most people’s minds (at least the ones I know) and I was certainly one of them. Until today! I was invited to a after work thingy on the San Deck at the Sandton Sun! What a stunning place! Wow!!
The view: just amazing The set-up: interior (or rather exterior) excellence The people: cosmopolitan mix The verdict: the perfect after- work -drinks or weekend-sundowner-place!!
Sandton is really gearing up (with a lot of changes done and finished) and becoming a hot spot in the Jozi scene again!
It’s this time of the year again… shopping malls decorated for Christmas way too early. I really don’t understand why it is not early enough to start on the 24th of November.. A month of christmas decoration is surely enough time, or not?
So, this morning I decided to rise early and pay the newly opened Protea Court at Sandton City a visit. My curiosity won over my cautiousness (big mistake). I had actually decided to wait at least for two weeks and let the first hype subside before I expose myself to the masses. The first ZARA store in Southern Africa opened it doors a few days ago at Sandton City. I knew it would be madness to go there at the beginning…. But I just couldn’t resist this morning. Not only did I want to compare prices to a ZARA store in Europe (I knew that alone the 25% import taxes would be added on top), but I also wanted to see what other shops Protea Court has to offer. Firstly, I have to say that the architecture of this new part of Sandton City is really a highlight. The name reveals it already: the whole construction looks like a Protea – just beautiful. Secondly, I want to add that the new selection of shops is a valuable addition to the shopping scene in South Africa. Last but not least, I want to mention that the christmas decoration is well done – modern South African style! Not bad – compliments to the decorator!
Christmas decoration at Sandton City
Although I’m already spending my 7th pre-christmas season in South Africa, I still have to get used to inverted conditions: hot, summer, parties, braais. It somehow messes with your system just like a jet lag does. Being raised in the northern hemisphere, pre-christmas time is indoor-time, family-time, fireplace-time and most of all: Christmas market and Gluehwein-time! This is something I really miss. How nice would it be to have christmas market huts all over Nelson Mandela Square, right under the Baobab tree??? Maybe not serving Gluehwein, but what about Icewein???
I spent last night with a great bunch of people at 44 Stanley Avenue. Whenever I’m at 44 Stanley Ave I get reminded of how eclectic Jo’burg actually is and to give the non-Jo’burgers a hint of this city’s vibe, I decided to post something about Jo’burg’s best kept secret. I was introduced to 44 Stanley Ave more than 4 years ago when I first moved to Jozi and fell in love with this hidden away piece of city straight away.
What was once a refinery and a series of industrial buildings is now a relaxed “Hinterhof-Culure” with boutiques, restaurants and design studios. Looking at it from the outside it does not reveal what’s hidden behind its walls: artistic flair, a meeting point for Jo’burg’s intellectuals, a trendscout’s paradise. Sitting under olive trees and sipping your coffee or a freshly-squeezed ginger-apple-carrot juice (my favourite at Salvation Café) makes you wonder if you are actually still in Jo’burg. For me, being a German, it reminds me a lot of Berlin, for a Dutch it could well be Amsterdam, and then there are two lanes to play Boule, lined with beautiful rose bushes and lavender, that makes you feel ike you are somewhere in France.
At 44 Stanley you can find a complete different vibe compared to those in Sandton, Melrose or Rosebank (Jo’burg’s other suburbs I usually find myself at). Some might call it more alternative, some others more intellectual, others say it reminds them a bit of the laid-back Cape Townian look and feel – whatever it is, it attracts more and more visitors and I fear that sooner or later it won’t be a secret spot anymore… which again makes me wonder if it is a good thing to post this post??? (I guess if you read this, I couldn’t hold back..) But then again, I made it my mission to show non South Africans that Jo’burg is a much nicer place than what the media portrays..