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The Secret diner: Box clever to find Freedom in a container

Arts

Freedom Café

43 St Marys Avenue, Greyville

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From the Affogato Bar the Paradise with chis seeds and granadilla.Pulled slow cooked pork with avo, brown rice and chilli jamSri Lankan lamb curry bowl.Tapas trio and zucchini fries was a perfect starter to shareRed and green robot juices.

Phone: 031 309 4453

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 7am to 4pm (breakfast and lunch)

You won’t stumble upon Freedom Café, tucked away as this out-the-box-in-the-box (an expanded container) eatery in the courtyard of The Concierge boutique hotel in Greyville. You have to know about it. Or consult Google.

It was a rainy Saturday that I recently met a friend there for lunch. Being rainy, the tables on the deck area under the trees were not an option. Not a problem. There is a lot of glass and greenery so most tables give a sense of inside-outside dining.

Freedom Café is known for its fresh ingredients, flavourful food and creative menu. The vibe is always relaxed and chatty.

We shared a table (everyone being inside). This is the norm in some countries where you don’t ask. Just sit down, say hello, then get on with your life. In my humble opinion we should make it the norm here. It doesn’t mean you involve yourself with others at the table. It is just practical, friendly, and makes sense.

Had it been earlier than the 11am cut-off, I might have tried one of the six Benedicts (R65 – R79) on the breakfast/brunch menu, or the avo with biltong dust on toast (R50).

But we were there for the lunch menu and started with – to share – the tapas trio: (a rich and robust) red pepper dip, (fresh and yoghurty) tsatsiki, (very good) smoked olives (and excellent chewy Glenwood Bakery) rye toast (R65); and the (waitron recommended) zucchini fries with housemade mayo (R40). The crispy batter encasing the melt-in-the-mouth creamy zucchini made for a lovely texture contrast. The mayo was too overwhelmingly lemony for my taste .

I would like to go back on a day when nothing is planned to indulge in the “Wheel Out the Gin Trolley” domestic and imported gin selection from the “Boozed” part of the menu that offers creative cocktails and wines by the glass or bottle. But we both had early evening plans, so chose the green (spinach-based) and red (beetroot-based) from the “Robot” juices (R26).

The chilly weather called for comfort food. The Sri Lankan lamb bowl (tender lean chunks) with coconut rice, pico di gallo and tomato chilli jam (R120) was mildly spiced, tasty and light.

The pulled pork (R88) slow-cooked (in Coca Cola, the waitron said when asked about the “cola” mentioned on the menu and the distinctive sweetish flavour) was succulent and lovely in combination with the fresh avo, black beans and wild brown rice. In both dishes the tomato chilli jam gave a contrast that my taste buds applauded. And a plus for the pea-sprout greenery added.

I hadn’t had kimchi for ages so we shared a kimchi and mayo beef burger (R85). This was served as burgers should be, but rarely are. A plump, juicy meat patty (in this case with the contrast of spicy chewy kimchi) and a minimalist bun. (As distinct from a great big mediocre bun overwhelming the rest.)

We shared a dessert from the Affogato Bar part of the menu (where there are five options). Who could resist something called “Paradise”? And sure enough, the (Era) vanilla ice cream, the (little bubbly bursts of) chia seeds, (contrasting bite of) granadilla and pour of bitter espresso (R55) was paradise enough to end with.

We had a rather “indulge yourself” feast. Will be back soon for some of the snacky things on the menu when not too hungry.

Food: 4

Ambiance: 3

Service: 3

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