Greenside's Clenergy claims to be the 'world's first anti-ageing restaurant'
A restaurant promising to change of perception of healthy foods is drawing the crowds in suburban Johannesburg
It doesn't seem that long ago that some members of the brassica family of vegetables, namely broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, played second fiddle to a wide variety of greens on the market.
Come to think of it, kale, a leafy green exceptionally rich in nutrients, didn't even feature until fairly recently - and we now can't get enough of it.
But top of the pops must be the humble cauliflower, a real beauty with a bouffant of florets like a crown of white curls, surrounded by a Caesar-like halo of green leaves. One of the few ways to enjoy it was boiled (maybe to death) florets served under a blanket of creamy cheese sauce. Yum.
Today the cauliflower has become sought after as we experiment with the versatility of the green as a carb replacement - think cauliflower mash and rice, or florets roasted and deep fried and served with a dip.
Finely crumbled, it is used as a flour replacement in making pizza bases and as the hero in a risotto. The cauliflower is king.
It was therefore no surprise to find it listed as a main - touted as a "steak" - on the menu at the recently opened Clenergy restaurant in Greenside, Johannesburg.
Greenside wafts in and out of favour, and Clenergy has brought a spark back to the place, having become something of a drawcard.
It is touted by the owners, Abdulla and Tasneem Mia, as the "place for those in search of the promise of healthy foods that look and taste like the original".
Says Abdulla: "If you're into eating healthy, this is a safe place."
The claim on the menu is that Clenergy is "the world's first anti-ageing restaurant" - a bit difficult to swallow.
What makes the eatery unique, it says, is that "while you get healthy bowls and salads, you will also be able to enjoy the decadent, indulgent delicious food and desserts you crave".
All menu items are said to be made free from refined sugar, are low in carbs and wheat-free.
Abdulla and Tasneem glow with good health. The restaurant idea came about after their journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Chef Andre Brown, previously of Fresh Earth, is at the helm, constantly conjuring up new, healthful ideas.
"We offer the foods that people crave," says Abdulla.
And the food? Back to the brassicas and feeling a little virtuous, a few days post Veganuary, I settled on the cauliflower steak (R96).
It came sizzling on a black plate, a thick slab of cauliflower smothered in a spicy sauce. Yum. The oven roasting had given it those nice brown bits around the edges. The best part? The mound of fried onions, spicy and garlicky, on top.
I do admit to drooling over the shish kebab on the all-day breakfast plate (R169). Very generous, it came with a heap of masala scrambled eggs, macon, mushrooms, tomatoes, a very thin and scraggly steak (perhaps they may consider leaving that off), and a couple of burger patties. The man said it was good but he'd prefer soft fried eggs to the scramble.
There's no booze and we downed our grub with a tumeric smoothie, him, and me, a detoxing red blend of beetroot, carrot and berries.
The gourmet beef burgers (R129) enjoyed at the next table looked delicious. Flame-grilled patties in wheat-free rolls oozing with sauce came with and a mound of delicious air-fried sweet potato chips. We know, because they offered us some.
• Visit Clenergy at 51 Greenfield Rd, Greenside, Joburg. Open daily to 5.30pm. Call 084-626-2812.
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