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.
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.
***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!!
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
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!)
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 dessert! 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 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!
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!
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!
After hearing rave reviews about this place and promising ourselves we’d pay it a visit we finally got there recently. I have to say that for me, the jury’s still out on all the praise being heaped on it though!
Firstly it was a lot trendier than I was led to believe! I know, I probably shouldn’t hold that against it, but I thought it would be a lot less ‘hip’, with a lot less decor and that it would be a lot more understated. Anyway – that has no effect on the food itself!! It was busy – as we expected, but we did get a table. The acoustics are terrible and it’s very noisy inside – again, this has no effect on the food, but just another point to be aware of if you’re looking for a quiet night out.
The service was efficient, dare I say, ‘too’ efficient. Throughout our meal, numerous people kept coming up to us and asking if all was ok. I found it to be a bit much. We ordered Gyoza Pot Stickers to start, my companion ordered the Deep Sea Bao, and I asked for the Classic Bowl with egg fried rice and chicken. Almost immediately, our mains arrived, but not the pot stickers. We asked where they were and the waitress went to find out. She came back and told us that those took a while longer to make and did we mind if we had the mains first. We thought it a bit strange that she hadn’t known to tell us that in the first place. My companion loved the Deep Sea Bao. I thought my Classic Bowl was ok, although I didn’t think there was an abundance of chicken in it. It was tasty though.
The pot stickers eventually arrived. I don’t think they looked like what we expected. They were falling apart and were quite messy, but we ate them.
When it was time to pay, our waitress seemed to have trouble with the card machine. It became apparent that she might be a trainee and needed some help with this. I have no trouble being served by a trainee, but let us know. The payment process took quite some time.
I’m not sure I’d return in a hurry.
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!!
When an invitation from Edward Chamberlain-Bell, Mr #JoziStyle, lands in your Inbox, you know you are indeed fortunate, but when it’s for a two-fold wine-tasting/lunch, then you know you’re in for a treat!
Lunchtime started at Wine Menu, a boutique wine store in Birnam’s exclusive Blu Bird centre. This is a veritable Aladdin’s cave for any wine lover, with a considerable selection of rare and exclusive wines, as well as the everyday ‘staples’. They also stock a small number of craft beers and spirits. We were treated to an informative (and very
generous) wine tasting of a small variety of some lesser known local wines, with the extremely knowledgeable Corlien Morris, and yes … I remembered the cost of a cork!! Between R10 and R15 each! (So proud of myself!)
And then it was on to lunch …
Bistro Michel, found on the upper level of the Blu Bird centre, is a little slice of French bonhomie, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday tedium.
As guests of #DineJoziStyle, we were privileged to have Chef Michel himself join us for a relaxed lunch, so were able to chat to him about his menu, where he sources his ingredients from (basically everywhere, he sees no reason to be restricted by region), and what inspires him. The menu isn’t a large one. It’s divided into starters and mains, and then there are side dishes or ‘gratins’ that you can choose to accompany your mains. There’s a separate burger menu for those who are so inclined. There is also a specials board available, depending on what Michel has managed to source
The complimentary bread selection (together with butter, olive oil and balsamic) that you’re presented with before your meal, is just divine! Try not to overdo it though because you need to keep space for the delicious meal that you’ve ordered.
I didn’t elect to have a starter but my fellow diners did, and I instantly regretted my decision, especially when I saw the onion soup. This typically traditional French dish looked heavenly with its thick cheesy topping and crisp croutons. Michel himself had the vegetable soup which also looked incredible (can you tell I’m a bit of a soup fiend?)
Onto the mains and my sirloin was cooked to perfection (medium rare). The accompanying Bearnaise sauce was a little cooler than I would have liked, but I know that you can either have it served hot or cold, depending on restaurant preference. It did taste good though.
Some of us chose to order a selection of side dishes
so that we could share a variety (or possibly because they all sounded so good that we just couldn’t choose). This was an excellent choice! So we opted for the Gratin Dauphinois, the macaroni with truffle, the green beans and zucchini. All were really ordinary, everyday ingredients which were elevated to another level and enhanced with just enough subtle flavouring to make them extra special accompaniments to the dishes they were complementing. The presentation, in pretty multi-coloured dishes, was quite delightful – adding that
typical French, stylish flair that one would expect.
And yes … we still had room for dessert! The Creme Caramel was light and the perfect finish to a beautifully balanced meal.
Of course, being a bunch of foodies (social media foodies at that), we all had our noses in each other’s plates, commenting, photographing and admiring. The plating here is simple, yet exquisite. Everything I saw almost looked too good to eat!
Throughout our lunch we were looked after by the delightful Victor – nothing was too much for him. He was friendly, efficient and obliging. Suffice to say the service was unobtrusive yet excellent.
The emphasis at Bistro Michel is on elegant simplicity and fine dining. This isn’t the place to bring the kids – unless you’ve got kids with sophisticated tastes! The interior is classicly designed with an eye-catching map of the Paris Metro covering the entire side wall. During warmer months the outside deck is the perfect place to enjoy your meal.
This is a dining experience to be savoured. Perfect for a special occasion, or perhaps for those with discerning tastes who have tired of the more pedestrian eating spots. You won’t be disappointed.