RED CHAMBER, Hyde Park – Still Awesome After All These Years

Red Chamber Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Red Chamber has almost legendary status as one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Johannesburg. From its early days, when it first opened in Rosebank in 1989, until it moved to Hyde Park Shopping Centre in 1997, and then moved to its current premises (remaining within the centre), Head Chef, Emma Chan has maintained her exceptional standard of quality, which keeps her patrons returning time and time again.

The service is impeccable, the menu vast, ensuring there’s something for every palate. The crispy Peking Duck is sublime! It’s served as a feast, fit for an army: the plate of duck, with separate plates of plum sauce, pancakes and finely cut cucumber and spring onion.

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We also had the crispy beef because it had been recommended to us by friends – an excellent recommendation, as it turned out! A tiny glitch in that we ordered a portion of steamed rice and a portion of noodles. A portion of fried rice arrived, which we happily started tucking into, but then the steamed rice also arrived. We reminded our waitress that we had ordered noodles and she returned the rice and brought the noodles. But then both bowls of rice AND the noodles appeared on our bill. However, when we pointed this out, it was rectified immediately with no problem at all.

4 glittery stars for The Red Chamber, if you’re looking for elegant, fine dining, Chinese style! You will be extremely well looked after.

 

PRIMAFILA – A PRIME EXAMPLE OF HOW NOT TO RUN A RESTAURANT!

Primafila Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

***AVOID*** AVOID *** AVOID *** AVOID *** AVOID ***

Sometimes there needs to be a zero rating, especially reserved for those experiences where even a rating of 1 seems too high!! I don’t think I’ve every written such a negative review, but our experience at this establishment was so awful, that I feel the need to warn fellow restaurant-goers about it! Even if the food is of fairly decent quality, it’s completely overlooked by the atrocious service and shocking handling of the situation by management. One can’t expect staff to be adequately trained when it’s clear that the manager himself has no management skills, and no understanding whatsoever of how to handle his clientele.

We arrived and were seated quickly, received our menu’s and offered drinks, which arrived fairly quickly too. We ordered our meals – my companion ordered gnocchi and asked if some cream could be added to her napolitana sauce (i.e. an aurora sauce). The waitress assured her this wouldn’t be a problem. Gnocchi with napolitana sauce is priced on the menu at R85 as opposed to gnocchi with bolognese or 4-cheese sauce, which is R99. Our meals arrived in due course and we enjoyed them. The waitress removed our plates, and then … we seemed to become invisible. Nobody approached our table for close to 20 minutes! We weren’t offered dessert, coffee … nothing … not even our bill. It’s at times like these that I’m tempted to test the theory of walking out without paying to see if anyone actually notices!

We decided to phone the restaurant and ask for the manager, and our bill. The person who answered the phone claimed that he was the manager, and my companion told him that we’d been ignored for quite some time and please could he bring us the bill. And then we waited some more!! Yes, really!! After some more time, we saw him walking around and we called him over, and my dining partner asked if he was the person who she’d spoken to earlier. I’m not sure he understood, but he said yes. So we asked him why we were still waiting for our bill. He proceeded to then go and chat to the cluster of wait-staff hanging around the restaurant door. We waited a few more minutes and eventually our waitress materialised with our bill and a card machine, and she stood next to our table waiting for payment! Yes, she rudely stood by our table waiting, after ignoring us for so long.

Our bill included an extra charge of R10 for cream. We asked the waitress what the extra charge was for and she informed us it was for the addition of cream into the napolitana sauce. She hadn’t told us there’d be an additional charge. We called the manager who told us that the waitress was supposed to tell us about this additional cost, and she’d told him that we had said it was fine. We told him that she had told us no such thing and insisted he remove the additional charge, which he did. A new bill then arrived without the additional R10, and the gnocchi was now charged at the incorrect price at R99!! We called the manager back. My companion was now, understandably, seething!!! She explained to him that what he’d done was actually illegal as although he’d removed the additional charge, he’d now increased the price of the dish she’d ordered on the bill. He didn’t seem to understand what she was trying to explain to him, and seemed quite flustered as he realised that this whole situation was completely beyond his control. He eventually returned with yet another bill and a R100 note and said that he’d decided to just charge us R100 for the whole meal! Seeing as I’d already paid cash and received change, and my companion had already paid her share on her card, we just wanted to get out of there after this whole prolonged nightmare. So we said that would be ok, and we took the R100 and left. But the manager still seemed rather confused as he still didn’t seem to know quite what had happened.

So … be warned!!! There are establishments out there that still manage to operate with a complete lack of quality or care for the customers they serve. How they stay in business is a mystery to me, and it’s not only the unsuspecting customers who suffer but also the foolish owners who leave their restaurants in the hands of useless managers and staff. Primafila is one such restaurant. It should be avoided at all costs!!

FOODIE HEAVEN AT PAUL’S BAKERY @MELROSE ARCH –

Paul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We waited a bit for all the hype to die down before visiting this much anticipated French Patisserie.

The restaurant is much bigger than I initially thought, and although we thought it was

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Lobster Pot

full when we arrived, we were taken through to the dining area in the interior of the space, which you don’t see when you’re looking in from the outside. It’s a lovely suprise! The decor is all so beautiful and tasteful and you just want to sit and take it all in – I know it’s all got that French feel to it, but to be extremely English, my reaction would be that it’s all extremely ‘genteel’! (For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, it’s a compliment, I promise!)

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Mushroom Ravioli

The menu is quite extensive, and not just limited to pastries. There really is something for every taste, including many vegetarian options, although some might find it slightly on the pricey side. I opted for the mushroom ravioli, and my partner had the lobster pot. The food presentation is perfect and for those who eat with their eyes, you won’t be disappointed.

Chef Tony visited our table to see if all was in order and suggested Nutella crepes for Paul's 2dessert! It was like he already knew us! He did however, recommend that one portion be shared between two of us, as the crepes are quite rich, and he was quite right. They were delicious, but half a portion was quite sufficient for one person.

We’ll definitely be back, and I can’t wait to try out the authentic French onion soup, served in a bread bowl!

A Gloriously Fresh Approach at Sum Ting Fresh Norwood

Sumting Fresh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A tiny little gem of a place tucked away in plain sight in the hectic main street of Grant Avenue, Norwood. Their menu is limited – they do fried chicken in a variety of ways, and boy, do they do it well! The aioli is something out of this world (yes, I asked for more) – they definitely worked some sort of magic on it!

 

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Gujon Chicken with Aioli

And the chicken is of course, fresh, crunchy and just moreish. The aim here is to provide good quality, wholesome food and to focus on what they do best rather than to provide a wide variety on the menu and focus on quantity, which is when quality often suffers. It’s obvious that the two guys who started this (with food trucks at festivals and markets) realised that they’d found something they did well and decided to stick with it! Good for them!

And don’t forget to try an amazing Jam Jar – the watermelon one was absolutely delicious!

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The staff are friendly and obliging and the service is efficient. You have to go and visit. It’s fun, and probably not what you usually have in mind when you think of ‘eating out’, but you definitely have to try it. And once you do, you’ll be hooked!

Serving Up Wholesome Italian Goodness in Bedfordview

Princi Pastizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Don’t let the spacious, modern look of this Italian eatery fool you! They’re into the business of serving up serious, fabulous food! Have been here a couple of times now, and although we said we needed to come back to try out the many different appealing dishes on the menu, we had loved what we had the previous time so much that we landed up ordering the same thing again! We did, however order different starters! So far we’ve tried the Bocconcini Fritti (deep-fried baby mozzarella balls) the grilled Halloumi, and the garlic Foccacia for starters. For mains my companions have had Ravioli Di Spinaci (Ravioli with Spinach and Ricotta in a Pomodoro Sauce) – tasty, although I have to say the ravioli don’t have a lot of filling in them, and I didn’t find the portion size to be very large; Linguine Al Gamberi (Prawns sauteed in olive oil, chilli and garlic, tossed in linguine and rocket) – I don’t eat shellfish so haven’t tasted it, but both times it’s looked great and my friend has been very happy with it. On both visits I’ve had the Risotto Con Funghi Porcini (Arborio rice, Porcini mushrooms, Italian tomatoes, white wine, cream and Parmesan shavings) and it’s been out of this world! For dessert we’ve tried the sorbet which was incredible, and also the good old ice cream and chocolate sauce, both of which are served in a wafer basket. On our last visit, three of us shared 2 portions, and our waitress very kindly still brought us 3 portions of the chocolate sauce! Service, as you can tell is thoughtful and efficient. The only gripe I have is that there is no input from management – who don’t seem to be hands on and no manager comes past to see if all is ok. Although it’s clear that this establishment runs extremely smoothly, it would be a nice touch. Still, I highly recommend it and we’ll definitely be back. Oh … and the huge displays of apples on their counters are absolutely gorgeous!!

Service has been Roasted at Roast Cafe!

Roast Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Service is virtually non-existent. Took ages for our drinks to arrive. When ordering our food we asked what dips came with the focaccia bread, but our server seemed unsure. Took a while for a food to arrive – the dips that came with the focaccia were not what we were told they would be. The fact that the food was decent is the only reason that the rating is over a 1. After that, we were asked a couple of times if all was ok, but then … nothing. Tried to get someone’s attention to get a dessert menu … nothing. Tried to get someone’s attention to get the bill … nothing. Eventually we actually got up from our table and went to ask for our bill so that we could pay and leave, by then we were so irritated. And when paying, our server had the cheek to keep checking the total on the bill to see if we were adding in a tip!! It’s extremely rare, if ever that we don’t tip, but the fact that we were completely ignored, and had to go and find someone ourselves to go and pay cancelled that option out completely!!! No manager in evidence – maybe he/she was enjoying the comedy show inside. Not sure if the service is better for those who choose to sit inside the comedy club and watch the show, but if you’re thinking of opting for sitting outside, don’t bother!

Come on over to where it’s GREENer!

craft-beer-festival-postponed

It has been an incredibly wet week in Johannesburg due to the heavy rains and it looks like it won’t clear up by next weekend.

Due to the increased rain, the organisers of the The Annual Green Craft Beer Festival and Beer Pong Event, have decided to postpone the event to another weekend, to avoid any last minute cancellations and disappointments.

Dax Menday, the co-owner of The Green.Live explains, “Weather reports state that the rainfall will continue next week. Gilloolys Farm is already soaked to the ground and with threats of 3 inch rain next weekend, we would rather not risk cancelling the event at the last minute. We will be holding the event on another confirmed date, and in the meantime people will get refunds for any tickets purchased. As much as we love the rain, beer and rain don’t go too well together.”

Although this major event will be moved to another date, yet to be confirmed, The Green.Live have decided to hold a mini event at The Green at the Modderfontein Golf Course, at 1 Centenary Road, Modderfontein on the day, Saturday 4 March 2017 at 15h00.

There will be live music with Trevor Rebello, Justin Serrao and Bad Peter,  and the Craft Beer Breweries Darling and Stimela will also be on sale.

Tickets can be purchased at the venue on the day at R50 each.

All ticket winners for the Main Craft Beer Festival, are welcome to attend the event for free.

For refunds, people can email info@nutickets.co.za

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The Green – Modderfontein

It’s immediately obvious on meeting festival co-organiser Dax Menday, that he’s an incredible people person, someone who likes nothing better than to bring people together to enjoy a great time. He had a very clear vision of how he wanted to do this, and in 2015, he and his partner approached the Benoni Country Club and asked them if they could open a bar on their Rooftop. Hmmmm … not quite in keeping with the staid culture of country club living, but Dax was determined – young people were looking somewhere to go that provided a certain type of vibe that wasn’t yet being catered for in their area. The craft and artisanal types of eateries and pubs were starting to become popular,  and why should they have to travel for miles to find places that appealed to them? Benoni deserved its own! And in October of that year The Green was opened in a 20 meter adapted container on the rooftop of the Benoni Country Club overlooking the golf course (the green … get it??)! 7 meters of the container is the actual bar.

In December of 2016 Dax successfully opened a second bar, The Green Modderfontein. the-green-5Based on the same look and feel as his flagship store, and once again with magnificent views of the golf course, Dax has managed to reproduce the relaxed look and feel that he created in Benoni. With 12 Craft Beers on tap, and at least 40 other, mainly South African, bottled varieties on offer at any given time, he’s going out of his way to ensure that The Green is a Craft Bar offers something for everyone. His food truck style kitchens create a limited menu of fabulous, fresh fare for when you’re a bit peckish! Go and take a look at http://www.thegreen.co.za/food/ to see what’s on offer or visit the Facebook page

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When I actually took a look at all that was on offer I was completely bamboozled to say the least! So … for those of you who are about as knowledgeable as I was about the whole craft beer culture, here’s a brief nutshell description: Basically, it’s tailor-made, hand-crafted beer, made in different varieties, with a master brewer having a direct hand in its creation. It gained momentum in the States approximately 8-10 years ago. Anyone who has the

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Alcoholic iced tea!

know-how can get some investors in their corner, buy their equipment and start the magical creation process! The beauty of craft beer creation is that you can continue to refine your process all the time. There’s also an amazing variety of craft gins making a name for themselves, and interestingly, you can get alcoholic iced tea on tap too!

Dax patiently guided this very green craft beer novice through the ins and outs of what it takes to create this popular drink in all its variations! This included feeding me Craft Beer … at 10.15 in the morning! As he happily claimed “It’s after 10!” I learnt that there are different types of beers: Lager, Native or Red Ale, Pale Ale, which is more bitter, has more hops in it and has a fruitier taste, and finally Weiss Beer, which is wheat beer, even more bitter than the Pale Ale and usually unfiltered. I hope I got all of that right! (Any mistakes are my own, certainly not from Dax!)

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The 4 different varieties of Craft Beer – and I confess, I can’t remember which is which!! I’m obviously better at drinking the stuff than I am at learning about it!!!

The idea for The Green.LIVE Festival was to bring the festival spirit to the East, as so many of these festivals are being held in the North. Dax’s intention is to solidify the Craft Beer culture and introduce new people to it. It’s a daytime festival held between 10:00 and 18:00, with no 13 – 17 year-olds being allowed entry. There will be 7 food vendors each selling unique fare with no crossover at all, so there’ll be something for everyone. Craft Beer, Food, Music … what’s not to like?

And of course, there’s the attempt to break the world Beer Pong record! I’ll admit that mythe-green-7 nearest and dearest threatened to disown me when I admitted to not knowing what this was. (Shock! Horror! Hands were thrown into the air in disbelief!) Well, it’s a game played between 2 people, 5 cups, of approximately 120ml beer in each, arranged in triangular formation per person and a ping pong ball. Each person stands about 2.4 meters away from the table on which the cups are arranged and bounces the ball onto the table. The aim is to get the ball into your opponent’s cup, so that he has to drink from that cup. If you manage to throw the ball into the cups without a bounce, your opponent then has to drink from 2 cups! I can imagine that it’s loads of fun in a crowd and pretty addictive too!

This is all definitely going to be re-scheduled once we have a more positive weather outlook. So make sure you’ve ‘liked’ the Facebook page so you know when it’s all happening.

In the meantime, take a look at this fabulous video of last year’s festival to see what it’s all about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtPDbL_tlKA&t=3s

Thank you Dax for inviting me to your beautiful bar and for taking the time to share all of your abundant knowledge so enthusiastically!

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