Truffles Bistro is a surprise oasis in the midst of Sandton's high rises

Set in Joburg's Mushroom Farm Park, this eatery serves up fresh, flavourful dishes in a beautiful botanical setting. Co-owner Josef Schmid tells us more

15 August 2019 - 00:00 By CATHERINE BLACK
The interior of Truffles Bistro is romantic, real and tactile.
The interior of Truffles Bistro is romantic, real and tactile.
Image: Supplied

Located in the heart of Sandton, Mushroom Farm Park is a surprise oasis amid the seemingly endless surrounding high rises and construction work.

Ahead of the 2010 World Cup, the master plan for the park included a playground, walking and jogging tracks, public toilets, parking, a park fence and a restaurant. Everything was completed – except for the restaurant.

Enter Josef Schmid of the Soweto Brewing Company, who, together with his partners Carmen Graham and Trevor Latimer, have turned these never-laid restaurant plans into reality. The result is Truffles Bistro, where fresh, flavourful dishes are served in a beautiful botanical setting.

We chat to Schmid to find out more.

Tell us more about the restaurant’s prebuilt steel structure?

It’s the way we build in Europe. It’s a lightweight steel structure that’s quick to construct. Once plans were signed off in August last year, the restaurant was built by mid-November! Because it’s actually off the ground, the temperature underneath is about 4 degrees colder than it’s inside. We open the grids in the floor and the ceiling to keep the inside cool in summer, and we close them in winter to keep it warm.

Who else helped to make the project a reality?

Carmen is my life and business partner – we met as hoteliers, and Trevor is a hotelier too. So we all have a food and beverage background, and we love good food and hosting people.

Stauch Vorster Architects took my initial idea for the structure and made it better, and Ryan Illgner from Blacksmith Interiors saw my vision and then created what we have today, along with BlackBoy Shop Fitters. 

I’m so proud to work with them; they’re real visionaries. We wanted the interior to be romantic, real and tactile, which you see in the raw oak wood, steel, plush fabrics and plants.

How did you decide on the menu? 

Our head chef is Durbanite Lance Lewis. He’d been working in the Middle East for quite a while before moving back to South Africa. He’s so well-travelled with a lot of exposure to foreign cuisines.

There’s a real depth to our menu that doesn’t skimp on flavours

There’s a real depth to our menu that doesn’t skimp on flavours – everything from short ribs and truffle fries to our truffle risotto, our katsu chicken bowl and the braised lamb.

We serve the same menu throughout the day and night, and we also have shareable platters for the after-work crowd.

 How is Truffles part of its surrounding environment?

The park is maintained solely by private contributions, but since Hyundai’s sponsorship lapsed, things like the walkways, fixtures and bridges are about to collapse. We’re trying to get surrounding corporates involved, and we also cheekily add a 2% conversation levy onto the park. So if you accept it – though you don’t have to – we match your 2%, and then with those funds we manage the park ourselves, including employing our own gardeners or repairing or upgrading facilities.

Image: Supplied

This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guide. Visit