Sip on some 'Giggle Water' at this Joburg speakeasy

Blind Tiger Cafe in Parkview, Joburg, has a winning formula with its Californian cuisine and Prohibition era-style cocktails

07 October 2017 - 00:00 By CATHERINE BLACK
The decor at Blind Tiger Cafe in Parkview is inspired by the 1920s.
The decor at Blind Tiger Cafe in Parkview is inspired by the 1920s.
Image: Supplied

From owning bars in Prague, Melville and San Francisco to opening Lenin’s Vodka Bar and SoMa Art Space in Maboneng, this isn’t Roman Slepica’s first rodeo.

Slepica is now also the owner of the Blind Tiger Cafe in Parkview, a 1920s-inspired speakeasy that leads onto an outdoor terrace restaurant serving traditional California cafe cuisine.

Slepica is a Parkview local and grew up in the neighbourhood too, so it’s fair to say things have come full circle for him.

We chat with him to find out more.

What has changed since you first opened in June?

It’s still really early days for us, so we have so many things we’d like to do. We just built a deck on the side of the main bar area and once our outdoor terrace floor is completed in the next few weeks, those areas will be perfect for summer.

We plan to open for Sunday brunch sometime soon, with a special brunch-only menu, so watch this space.

Tell us more about your “Giggle Water” cocktails.

“Giggle Water” is 1920s slang for cocktails – and our ode to the literary crowd of the time comes in the form of The Great Gatsby, Miss Parker and a few others.

“Blind tiger” was another word for a speakeasy during the Prohibition era in the US, so we wanted to have a bit of fun with the cocktails.

From your previous bar ventures, do you have any particular formula that you find works well?

Location, location, location. Also, a simple menu with good-quality food, great service, proper lighting and music that matches the venue. As well as a good-looking, efficient and fully stocked bar that serves excellent drinks, with actual bartenders in the traditional sense that they know their drinks as well as their customers.

Blind Tiger Cafe serves scrumptious quesadillas.
Blind Tiger Cafe serves scrumptious quesadillas.
Image: Supplied

What’s unique about the Joburg restaurant and bar scene?

It’s a fickle crowd. But they appreciate good food and good service, so when they find something they like, Joburgers can be incredibly loyal.

Tell us more about your fusion menu.

There’s definitely a traditional California cafe cuisine influence, which is Mexican/Asian/American and super fresh, top-quality produce.

Everybody loves the Korean fried chicken wings and the black bean and caramelised onion quesadillas.

I really like the grilled salmon with baby potatoes and wilted spinach with white wine and wholegrain mustard sauce.

Oh, and we just added a brownie, banana and honeycomb sundae that’s the perfect way to wrap things up.

This article is adapted from one originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guides. Visit