Tapas and G and Ts at Workshop 55 in Parktown North
Workshop 55 is a unique experience that combines the very best of finely crafted drinks and locally and internationally influenced food served in a laid back setting reminiscent of contemporary speakeasies.
Hidden among the bustling shops and beautiful homes that line 7th Avenue, Workshop 55 is one of Parktown North’s brightest gems.
If you love great food, adore beautiful decor and are excited by South Africa’s gin revolution, I suggest you make a booking right away.
The first thing you notice when you arrive at Workshop 55 is the chighly instagrammable interior design - quickly followed by the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen which opens directly onto the restaurant’s primary dining area.
Bare brick, copper piping, chesterfield couches, surrealist painting on the wall, and remnants of all painted signs, which give the space a distinct “workshop” feel, inspired by a 1900s Victorian-esque warehouse.
This vibe sits in stark contrast to the plush furnishing and chic character of the space.
They have one of the largest selections of local and imported gins I’ve seen in Johannesburg, so take the time to enjoy a selection of different dishes with one of their delicious infused artisanal gins.
“You really want to enhance the flavours both in the gin and in the tonic by infusing them with anything from grapefruit, orange zest, rosemary, thyme, sage, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, apples, pear, pomegranate and other seasonal berries and herbs. We like to dehydrate things, we like to char things - and all of this to enhance primarily the gin flavours”, says Executive Head Chef Alex Webber.
From food to drinks they’ve chosen to stay away from the usual suspects and offer you something a little different, a little out of the ordinary.
You pay a set amount for a total of three dishes off their food and dessert menu - these are tapas style dishes, portioned so that you can enjoy the selection rather than eat a huge heavy meal.
The food is quirky and delicious.
The service is intuitive and attentive, and Chef Webber is happy to accommodate guests with stringent dietary requirements.
Try anything from the smoked pork belly with honey and soy glazed five-spice rhubarb, celeriac and parsnip puree, fire roast peanuts, crackling or the irresistible cajun-style oysters, grilled with smoked apple, cajun seafood crumb, spring onion or the spring garden salad with a selection of seasonal vegetables, roasted, pickled, puree, olive, parmesan, mayonnaise.
My absolute favourite being the tuna, served raw and pickled with spicy tom yum, coconut milk, smoky aubergine puree, soya sauce, candied sesame seeds, coriander.
The desserts are all stunning, but Webber and his team outdo themselves with the dark chocolate fondant with summer berry sorbet, spiced biscuit crumb, fresh summer berries, caramel honeycomb.
I can never say no to a rich and creamy dark chocolate and I'll admit to being tempted once or twice to skip the main meals altogether and indulge in a dessert-only feast.