Bar hopping along Rosebank's Park Corner — what’s new and what’s good
We see what is being served up at The Peeping Tom, The Rising Tide, and Sin+Tax
As far as incarnations go, Park Corner in Rosebank has seen its fair share. After taking a heavy beating by the Covid-19 pandemic and what seemed like never-ending construction unfolding on the strip more recently, a new face has finally been unveiled.
To explore the new additions to the strip, both in terms of spaces and menus, we went bar hopping to try not only the bespoke selection of cocktails but to see what the kitchens are serving up.
THE PEEPING TOM
First the cheeky Morning Glory opened late last year; next came the saucy The Peeping Tom, one of the newest additions to Park Corner that has tongues wagging.
For your breakfast fix, you’re better off visiting Morning Glory. When they close their doors, it’s next door you want to head where you’ll find quick bites, smaller easy-eating plates, and more substantial meals.
Peeping Tom is voluminous, with high-rise golden yellow arches framing painted pink flamingos strutting their stuff on the walls and touches of green ferns and potted plants.
A huge mussel lover, I would’ve tried their Moules Mariniere — mussels in a creamy tomato broth — but their larger meals are only served from 6pm.
We decided to sample a selection of the smaller options, ordering an avo and pea stack, fried zucchini fingers, and a blackened fish slider with sriracha mayo, arugula, and purple slaw on a brioche bun.
The slider, which was served with a small portion of skinny fries, was not only beautifully presented but a good addition to the menu. The avo and pea stack was a bit disappointing owing to the rice cake base and the zucchini fingers were far too oily. The only saving grace was the basil aioli served on the side.
The booze menu is fun and contains the likes of bubbly cocktails, signature cocktails, good old favourites such as whisky on ice and aperol spritz, and a selection of wines, beers, and bubblies.
I’ll be back, not so much for the food as to order the high tea: gin, house-made passion fruit cordial, and iced tea served in a tea pot. One of the more classy remnants of SA lockdown.
Verdict: Wines can be ordered by the bottle or by the glass — averaging R50 for the latter — while cocktails range in price between R72 and R130.
Small plates can become pricey for a little amount of food and mains average R150. With the bright décor, open space, and the likes of Cardi B serenading patrons, it’s a good pick for a boozy lunch or naughty, but classy, stop on a bachelorette night out.
THE RISING TIDE
The Rising Tide is a new island-style tiki bar that opened between Coalition Pizza and The Peeping Tom a few weeks ago. It’s a small space in which they’ve done a lot: a row of chairs line the upstairs balcony which overlooks a few tables and chairs and the bar which takes centre stage.
The colours are bold and bright, mixing turquoises with orange, jade, and luminous purple from an impressive octopus mural which completely covers one wall. Touches of wood and rope hint at beach life, allowing you to ease into the laid-back feel of the bar and hip playlist.
In terms of drinks, the focus falls squarely on cocktails — mostly the type you’d enjoy on a tropical holiday.
The Yuzu Ink Sour with whisky, yuzu, and litchi was on the sour side while the sweeter burnt caramel piña colada has a touch of cinnamon to compliment the traditional coconut flavour.
They have just added a selection of mains and desserts to the small menu of tiki bar bites. Again, my mussel hopes were dashed as they were still awaiting the delivery of their new crockery and weren’t yet ready to serve the West Coast mussel pot. Both the new food and nonalcoholic menu are expected to go live soon.
On the bar bites side of things, the crab Rangoon — wonton-style dumplings filled with crabmeat, cream cheese, and lemon — and pork belly skewers, both served with zingy dipping sauces, were a perfectly delicious alternative and I’d be happy to return to try more of the menu.
Verdict: Cocktails are good and cost on average R85. The tasty small plates range in price from R55 to R95, with mains between R90 for a grilled mango poke bowl and R195 for the Mozambique-style prawns. It’s an easy-going space that I’ll be happy to pick for after-work drinks or leisurely weekend vibes.
In March Joburg’s not-so-secret, secret bar not only underwent a bit of a revamp to add an outdoor courtyard, they introduced a different fare — of an eating variety. They started out with a small menu with plans of experimenting more and eventually expanding their offering.
On this visit a few months later, they now have a printed food menu which, apart from the small selection of snacks they started out with, now features a selection of bagels, tacos, and burritos.
The so-named “fowl play” soft shell taco is served with pulled molé chicken, masala pickled carrot, pineapple salsa, martini aioli, and basil.
This is also available in a burrito but I went with a vegan option (not because I am vegan but because they do it so well): pulled king oyster mushroom, pineapple ancho adobo, vegan cheese, and fresh coriander.
The burrito was — thankfully — not very big but I would go as far as to say the vegan cheese is not necessary; the filling is delicious on its own.
Other fillings play on combinations of pork shoulder and apple, tofu and sake, and halloumi and tzatziki.
They also have a small dessert selection which includes the option of a vegan pancake stack and a dark Belgian chocolate brownie.
Cocktail menus are always changing, depending on seasonality and the experiments tickling the mixologist’s fancy.
On the nonalcoholic front, they are happy to create bespoke drinks or surprise you. The “something refreshing” they served up on the day certainly hit the nail on the head.
Verdict: Often exceeding R100, the cocktails are truly bespoke but on the more expensive side. However, the food is delicious and well-priced at an average of R80 a plate, including chips. With the addition of the new outdoor courtyard, you can take your pick of indoor speakeasy moody or brighter outdoor vibey where live music often relaxes the crowd — both good any time of the day or night.