Jozi's fabled eatery, The Leopard, reinvents itself as a deli
This week, the Leopard once again transmogrifies into another form. Those of us old and lucky enough to remember the original Salvation Cafe, or before that Super Bonbon, will find a small amount of reassurance that we need not live without the food of Andrea Burgener and Nick Gordon.
But, the knowledge that the new and improved Leopard: Kitchen, Larder & Can Do has opened at 44 Stanley Avenue doesn't offer enough succour to those regulars who'd become accustomed to their handsome staff, cocktail-hour Negronis, stuffed quail and snarky comments typed at the bottom of the menu: "extra attention for R150".
As a consolation prize, a final weekend of "Last Suppers" were offered to the faithful at their old Melville premises along with a photostat menu as a memento, with the parting shot at the bottom of the menu: "Please don't forget that the cholesterol myth is nonsense."
For starters, shiitake and sake broth was followed by a "mese-ish" plate of hot rosemary olives, artichoke-saffron-escabeche, Grana Padano shavings, pickled quail eggs and crisp breads.
For the fish course, "somewhat Balinese sea bass parcel", chilli brinjal, cucumber pickle, rice and then a "Poultry Explanade": KFQ (Kentucky Fried Quail) and smokey duck.
While we were drying our eyes, the Leopard team were unsentimentally setting up their new "hybrid space" with manufacturing and retail under one roof.
The new smaller space will, they say, allow them to focus on "making food taste good" by removing the overheads and maintenance associated with a sit-down restaurant and replacing it with home/office delivery and takeaway service instead.
The Kitchen, Larder & Can Do has a small takeaway menu in store or by delivery.
In addition you can buy "Ready to Heat" and "Ready to Cook" meals.
The former are fully cooked, packaged meals and/or components to be heated when ready, and the latter are prepared foods to make cooking easy with supporting components.
The larder will be selling a range of sustainably sourced, lovingly made and affectionately curated stuff: Jersey cream, dressings, properly free-range eggs, home-made labneh, ricotta, Nick's range of free-range charcuterie, cakes and a small selection of beer and wine, plus emergency items like ready lunch-boxes, two-prong plugs, Panado, sticky tape, spare change, and so on . maybe also the Financial Times and Farmer's Weekly.
Shoppers now have access to their suppliers: pork from Hendrik O'Neill and Sally Nicoll, chicken from Heversham Farm, dairy from Mooberry, and beef from Bull & Bush. The Leopard will also be doing catering and pop-ups here and there.
• Visit: The Leopard: Kitchen, Larder & Can Do, Shop No. G10 B4, 44 Stanley Ave, Milpark, 011-482-9356. Opening hours: 9am to 5pm (shop), 10am to 6pm (for deliveries, seven days a week).
• This article was originally published in The Times.