Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fine Dining at Burnside's Café

By Gillian McLaren

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Travelling the leafy suburbs of Jo'burg can be  hungry work. Stop in at Craighall's Burnside's Café next time you're in the area to experience homegrown hospitality and a unique, wholesome take on great food.
With its wide veranda set back from the road, facing a neat garden, Burnside's feels like a country lodge and is the epitome of simple elegance, with white clothed tables and vases with simple fresh flowers widely spaced apart to ensure your table is private. 

Burnside's is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious breakfast in the warm sunshine. Try the poached eggs presented in a deep bowl, topped with crispy bacon and a tomato relish. The fragrant African blend coffee is particularly good. 

If you feel like something at tea time, then the freshly baked cakes are a must and include a lightly lemoned cheesecake, moist chocolate cake and a lemon meringue pie, which are beautifully served with cream or mascarpone. 

It's owned and managed by brother-sister team, Jess and Dillon du Plessis, who are perfectionists that ensure each dish is made from scratch and is artistically presented. They source the best organic products available, and this attention to quality extends through every step of the preparation and presentation of the meals they style. 

The waiters at Burnside's are well-spoken and friendly but professional, presenting the small but imaginative lunch menu with clarity and making all at the table feel at ease. 

My favourite off this menu is the Burnside salad — thinly shaved pieces of pecorino on a bed of varied lettuce leaves, avocado and other crisp vegetables drizzled with balsamic reduction, served with grilled ciabatta. 

Jess has many regular customers who she knows by name. It is the kind of place where people feel welcome and relaxed, where the music is pleasant and where the clientele is diverse and discerning.
In addition to the many business people who conduct their meetings there, Burnside's is slowly building up an eclectic mix of patrons from well known socialites to the owner of a group of hotels, all who return to Burnside's clearly drawn by the allure of the ambience and fine fare that Jess produces. 

When dusk comes, the little bistro turns into a popular option for many and it is wise to reserve a table. I was welcomed with a tasty amuse bouche of Roquefort in phyllo pastry, accompanied with hot brioche-like rolls with farm butter. 

The roast tomato and basil soup is deliciously creamy, the sushi quality salmon seared to perfection, bright in the centre and crisped on the outside and presented on herb-scented mash and pak choi for main course. The crisp Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc 2009, which is one of four carefully chosen white wines on the list, complemented the meal well. 

My son, James, devoured his fillet with black mushroom sauce and said that it is one of the few places where his order for rare steak had been taken seriously. 

Each dessert described by our waiter sounded mouth-wateringly tempting. We settled for the chocolate pudding with Kahlua custard and the innovative affagato — ice-cream with Strawberry coulis served in a champagne flute with small jugs of Belgian chocolate sauce and espresso. They were a palate teasing end to a fine meal. 

I recommend Burnside’s to you unhesitatingly. It has become a favourite spot for me to sit on the spacious veranda and work on my computer, sipping freshly squeezed apple and mint juice and revelling in the calm of this restful oasis in the middle of a busy suburb. 

Main meal: R70.00 -R110.00
Burnside's Café
6 Burnside Road

011 326-3970 

Closed Mondays
Open 09h00-17h00
Dinner Thursday and Friday only.

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Gillian Mclaren Travel and Science Writer