Take it outside: Restaurants that are getting social distancing right

With the lockdown regulations finally eased, we’re all due more than a bit of fresh air. Whether you’re looking to make the most of the spring weather or are just feeling a bit safety-first in these uncertain times, al fresco eating is the order of the season. At these outdoor dining spots, expect increased PPE, more space between tables as well as brilliant food and tasty drinks.

La Parada – Parkhurst

Soak up the sociable vibe of Spanish eating at the brand-new La Parada tapas and cocktail bar in Parkhurst. Opened out onto the buzz of 4th Avenue, it feels like a party most nights with a menu that captures the boisterous spirit of authentic tapas-style dining. There’s something about the endlessly appetising small plates complemented by a tempting list of cocktails that make them the most sociable of foods. They’re ideal for sharing (or, if you’d prefer not to, easy to order extra) and the best part is, you don’t have to commit to one cuisine. Dive in and make a night of it: Sip, snack, repeat. The menu offers new-wave takes on the classics and some serious innovation – but playful inventiveness never gets in the way of flavour. Check out the fried calamari with aioli and lemon, seared tuna tataki with sesame seeds and avocado mousse, grilled cheese with gypsy ham and truffle aioli as well as the beef rib eye with chilli pea purée & truffle potato crisps with a round of Fizz Pom or Butterfly Effect cocktails. If you’re vegetarian, order the smoked exotic tomatoes with Caciotta cheese and garlic ciabatta croutins or the whole Peppadews filled with cream cheese and basil aioli in multiple.

Parkhurst Square, 38 4th Avenue, Parkhurst

010 035 6894

www.laparada.co.za

Wasabi Restaurant

If you love sushi so much you could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, head to Wasabi Restaurant. Elegant, no-nonsense sushi and grills are served in a soothing and minimal space: The décor seeks to deviate from the stereotypical market patio umbrellas and bonsai trees associated with oriental design. Grab a table on the outdoor restaurant piazza and take your pick from the vast menu, which includes everything from creamy rock shrimp California rolls and salmon roses topped with thick crème fraîche and berry reduction, to sesame seed crusted seared bigeye tuna and a fillet on the bone flambéed with cognac at your table. No matter what you order, it’s difficult to go wrong. The Dragon Roll with Scottish salmon, tempura prawn and sticky sweet Yakitori sauce is delicious, as is the Pepper Me Poké, where avocado, cream cheese and sushi rice are hidden under generous servings of flavourful black pepper rubbed tuna. The Forest Nigiri – salmon, prawn and avocado nigiri made with camembert infused rice, plum and kewpie mayo – is equally deserving of praise. The sushi is made even better with an order of Hong Kong Pears stuffed with duck, prawn and chicken. 

Mall of Africa, Magwa Crescent, Midrand

011 517 2458

www.wasabisushiandgrill.co.za

Bellagio

If you fancy spoiling someone special with lashings of Illovo class, we suggest splashing some serious cash at Bellagio. It’s a formal place with white tablecloths, decorous service and tables out front for alfresco carousing. Surrounded by an elegant décor, the menu offers the best of the ocean’s bounty and spotlights owner Louise Castle’s forward-thinking approach to coastal inspired fare. Prosecco and oysters are a perfect pairing and there may be no better place to indulge than this eatery, where you’ll find them in abundance. The use of fresh, authentic ingredients can be detected in every bite of crave-worthy starters such as chargrilled calamari served with an avocado, tomato and chilli salsa or marinated roasted prawns with a creamy feta, chive and garlic sauce and crusty ciabatta. The exquisite main menu is dotted with Mediterranean touches, and there are plenty of big-ticket items on offer – think seared salmon marinated in soya, chilli, ginger, honey and orange; seared pepper-crusted tuna with teriyaki; and grilled langoustines with garlic and lemon butter. Of course, there are cheat-day-worthy treats like the crab capellini and smoked salmon spaghettini too.

Unit 1, Oxford Manor, 196 Oxford Road, Illovo

011 268 0869

www.bellagiorestaurant.co.za

Ribs & Burgers – Linksfield

There’s a reason why meat-lovers are flocking to this casual diner at the brand spanking new Neighbourhood Square social, retail and leisure hub. There’s plenty of room, plenty of light and plenty of good vibes. Overall, life has many splendours and the grilled meats here are no exception – from the mouthwateringly beautiful beef ribs to the Mighty Bacon & Cheddar Burger that’s lusted over by thousands. Ribs & Burgers aims to bring some of the best succulent stacks and juicy racks to Joburg. It aims, and oh boy does it deliver. With tasty sides and signature ‘thickshakes’, we’re advised to tell you that it’s okay to let the smoky aromas guide you. When you order the Mighty King Rib, you’ll receive a rack with a caramelised, sticky crust. The joint has a secret weapon that makes their burgers stand out too: The patties are cooked medium rare to ensure maximum juiciness, whether you’re biting into the simple Old School Cheese or The Aussie with the lot. Next-level veggie burgers are available too – try the Veggie Stack with mushroom, Spanish onion, halloumi, crispy onion rings and aioli. Finish off the meal with a thick and frosty Vanilla Malt Biscuit or Salted Caramel milkshake.

Shop S13, Neighbourhood Square, corner of Huddle & Club Streets, Linksfield

010 100 3027

www.ribsandburgers.com

Villa Bianca

This modest Mediterranean cuisine and sushi restaurant comes from Arthur Cavallineas and family – the same folks who brought us FireRoom. Styled as a casual neighbourhood hangout, the space at Villa Bianca is open and modern, and the shopfront opens up onto the road, lending a fitting Mediterranean al fresco vibe. Inside, the space bears a simple motif; nothing too fancy but sufficiently stylish nonetheless. The menu features plenty of coastal fare-centric sharing plates as well as cocktails and mocktails crafted from seasonal, exotic produce and botanicals, like the Cucumber Collins and Berry Mojito. Known for its selection of quality seafood, the gourmet prawns served with lemon butter, garlic butter or peri peri sauce is a popular choice, as is the Parma Ham Salmon; Scottish salmon wrapped in Parma ham, rice and Japanese stir-fry vegetables. Another highlight is the meat, from the ginormous 850g tomahawk to the Lindt Chilli Chocolate Fillet topped with chilli chocolate reduction, served with fettucine, butter and sage. If you’ve got unrelenting sweet tooth, satiate your cravings with the pure chocolaty decadence Chocolate Volcano soufflé for dessert.

13 Brabazon Road, Croydon, Kempton Park

011 974 2700

www.villabianca.co.za

Pomodoro Ristorante

Nestled in Morningside Shopping Centre and sitting somewhere between an Italian trattoria and Parisian bistro, you’ve probably just popped your head into Pomodoro Ristorante for a cheeky glass of vino on your way home. But, once the aroma of ultra-delicious Italian cuisine hits you, you may as well relinquish your evening plans. At the heart of the menu, pasta – cooked up by chef-owner Stefano Mas – goes back to basics. Our favourites are the gnocchi with meltingly soft potato dumplings in a silky gorgonzola sauce spiked with lots of walnuts as well as the melt-in-your-mouth homemade egg tagliatelle with a creamy porcini mushroom, saffron and whisky sauce. For the pizzas, the dough is left to rise and mature for just the right amount of time so that it swells into a soft and fluffy yet crispy base. The menu also features some of Italy’s finest fish and meat dishes in which subtle creativity and high-end dining are the name of the game, including lightly crumbed Falklands calamari tubes and tentacles and pan-fried chicken breast in a mushroom and truffle sauce. Given we aren’t here for dancing, we’re not disappointed to find ourselves in a large, airy, revamped dining room.

Morningside Shopping Centre, corner of Rivonia & Outspan Roads, Morningside

011 883 1854

www.pomodororestaurant.co.za

Guilt & Co

Looking to brighten up your social media feed or indulge your inner girliness? Guilt & Co is the perfect hangout spot for a fun and relaxing catch-up session with the girls. Its pretty pink and leafy green interior checks all the visual boxes, as does the delicious grazing menu. Moët & Chandon mimosas are optional, but always welcomed. The menu boasts a variety of dreamy breakfasts such as Belgian waffles topped with summer berries and whipped vanilla cream, eggs in a ‘basket’ filled with creamy mushrooms, strawberry flapjacks served with crispy bacon and mascarpone cheese as well as salmon royale – a toasted bagel topped with smoked salmon trout, a poached egg and roasted asparagus, drizzled with hollandaise sauce. To drink, there’s a perfectly sweet pink latte and a creamy vanilla coffee to unleash your inner princess. If your appreciation for a well-constructed deli sandwich or salad holds as much significance as your love of plush pastel furnishings, order the panini with gypsy ham, mature white cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes and pickles, or the smoked salmon trout salad with greens, cherry tomatoes, red onion, avocado and cream cheese.

Cedar Square Shopping Centre, 15 Willow Avenue, Fourways

087 238 1916

www.guiltandco.co.za

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