Johannesburg - France, and Paris in particular, is one of those places we all dream of visiting some day – if not for the striking architecture and picturesque streets, then for the delicious croissants, baguettes and macarons. For those of us who can’t quite make it there just yet, here’s where to get your French fix right here, in the City of Gold.
Morrells Guest House
This French café and brasserie is owned by Irene and Marc Guébert, who’ve run French inspired restaurants in Johannesburg since the 1970s. Marc is head chef, while Irene manages the floor – and very well, I might add. Most customers are regulars and she knows them all by name.
Seasonal specials on the extensive à la carte menu include lobster bisque and duck confit, and adventurous options like cow’s brains and frogs legs. The menu offers something for everyone. I was set on dessert, so opted for a healthy main and ordered a calamari salad, R65, which is easily one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Crunchy crackers complemented the tender calamari, which was flavoured with an Asian sticky soy sauce with julienne veggies: delicious!
As the name suggests, the restaurant’s speciality is Marc’s savoury and sweet soufflés, available in a variety of enticing flavours, like smoked salmon and spinach, R95, or on the sweeter side, coffee and Kahlua, R66. We tried the latter and devoured the entire bowl. The crust of the soufflé was crispy and pastry-like, while the filling was as airy as candyfloss. Even if you just go for soufflés and tea, you’ll have a great experience. Call 011 465 4116. Pineslopes Shopping Centre, Corner Witkoppen Road and Monte Casino Boulevard, Fourways. Visit www.lesouffle.co.za
Les Delices de France
Know when you walk into a restaurant and immediately feel welcomed? It might have been the “bonjour” I got on arrival, but there’s something unpretentious, authentic and utterly charming about Les Delices de France. Admittedly, I don’t venture to the West Rand very often, but my meal at this restaurant definitely made the commute worth my while.
Les Delices de France is a converted house with the most delightful French owners, Robert Baxa and Claudette Gourjux, who add to the warmth the restaurant exudes. The dining area is split between two areas and we sat in a cosy room alongside just two other tables.
The menu is small but seasonal – the new winter menu offers warm dishes accompanied by a variety of weekly specials. We opted for one of these: lamb neck stew with white wine, tomato, garlic, onion and bay leaves, served with couscous. The lamb was tender and the stew flavourful. The restaurant also does catering and offers a full service solution with a chef to plate your dishes at your venue, plus waiters and barmen. I was thrilled to find that the dessert menu spanned four pages – my idea of heaven! Expect to find dishes like poached pear in red wine with blackcurrents and coconut ice cream, R60, mini tarte tatin with salted butter caramel and ice cream, R50, and of course, a variety of soufflés. I loved the crêpe soufflé with raspberries. The restaurant plans a Father’s Day three-course set menu for R295. Call 011 027 8668, 2 Keith Avenue, Roodepoort. Visit www.lesdelicesdefrance.co.za
The French Corner
I’d heard from a few foodies that this bakery has the best croissants in Jozi. After trying them out for myself, De La Crème bakery in Melville still holds that title for me, but I give The French Corner top marks for its baguette – which I took home to enjoy plain, with lashings of butter. The menu is simple, like that of a sidewalk café. Breakfast options are eggs benedict, scrambled eggs and omelettes, while a selection of light meals and sandwiches is available. The courtyard is a lovely spot to enjoy the winter sun with a cup of Bean There coffee. Call 011 463 5808, 277 Main Road, Cramerview Shopping Centre, Bryanston. Visit www.thefrenchcornerbakery.co.za - Hasmita Nair, Sunday Independent