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Restaurant Review

Bespokery has all the things we Joburgers didn't know we were missing

This new Parkview eatery fills the gap with well-priced, well-executed small plates of clever, Mediterranean-inspired food

07 March 2021 - 00:00 By aspasia karras
The muted white interior with pistachio benches presents a stylish neutrality to offset the sophisticated dishes.
The muted white interior with pistachio benches presents a stylish neutrality to offset the sophisticated dishes.
Image: BESPOKERY

There is something utterly comforting about your local. The quotidian joys of familiar dishes and faces is a recipe for human connection, more so in this peculiar time when its role as a social glue and social lubricant feels that much more significant. The local is a very necessary bulwark of warmth and sustenance against the sad loneliness of lockdowns and Covid anxiety.

Imagine my angst when, just as lockdown started last year, my Parkview local, Croft & Co, moved one shop down to its present corner location on Tyrone Avenue. So many questions: how would I deal with this larger, glossier, greener version of my happy place? Would this upgrade change the tone? And would it be for the better? What would become of the table of morning regulars? And, crucially, what would happen to the old location — that nexus of simple pleasures and cappuccino on tap?

I can happily report that everything is better than well in Parkview. Croft & Co survived the lockdown, the regulars and plenty of newbies are happily ensconced trading gossip and working furiously and remotely. Next door, Bespokery has filled a gap in my culinary options in Joburg — a restaurant that is high on the delicious and fine scale of dining, but is unpretentious and welcoming. Cape Town has this sort of spot in abundance. Joburg not so much. Well-priced, well-executed small plates of clever, Mediterranean-inspired food I did not even know I was missing.

A lovely muted white interior with pistachio benches and gentle lighting present just the right level of stylish neutrality to offset the sophisticated dishes. This is cooking that is subtle and interesting, but not overwhelming. Café food on steroids. They recommend you choose three to four dishes to share between two of you. But be warned, you will want to order more.

Charred broccoli with ash goat's cheese, quince and hazelnut.
Charred broccoli with ash goat's cheese, quince and hazelnut.
Image: Aspasia Karras
Harissa spiced mussel chowder with sweet potato and coriander.
Harissa spiced mussel chowder with sweet potato and coriander.
Image: Aspasia Karras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a recent Thursday I tried the harissa spiced mussel chowder with sweet potato and coriander (from the low carb/ keto section of the menu), R80, perfectly complemented by cauliflower croquettes with a gooseberry and elderflower sauce, R70, that floated in my mouth like little cloudlets of joy. The saffron poached quinoa with dates and nuts, R80, would give Ottolenghi a run for his money.

On Saturday I tried the beetroot cheesecake with rocket and roasted seeds, R80, the charred broccoli with ash goat's cheese, quince and hazelnut, R80, (just right) and the heavenly croquettes, of course. I am feeling bolstered. The Bespokery right next to Croft is giving me hope — the world will be restored to equilibrium, one or two locals at a time.

Find Bespokery at 66 Tyrone Ave, Parkview, Johannesburg.  Open daily: noon - 10pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.


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