My home for last week was Johannesburg and being a born and bred Capetonian this was a bit of a shock to the system. My beautiful mountain and quite streets of the southern suburbs were traded in for a cacophony of sounds and big roads and plenty of road works.
While I enjoy Johannesburg, I feel that it is only a place I can visit as I long for the beauty of the mountain which juts out from almost every window you glance out of and the quiet peacefulness that Cape Town exudes. Yes we are known as a “laid back” city, but I think there is something to be proud of and hold in high honour. Oh boy do I love Cape Town …
But let me get back to Johannesburg, I was staying with my grandparents in Sunninghill, one of Johannesburg’s relatively new suburbs. One thing you can be sure of in Johannesburg is that there is a shopping centre within a few blocks of you and more often than not more than one centre. Sunninghill has about 3 centres in close proximity to it which cater for almost any need from you food stores (Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers and a Woolworths food store), to banks, clothing stores and more. It certainly is convenient to pop down to the shops to pick up a litre or two of milk or to stop past a shop on your way to your next destination.
But I digress, the purpose of this is not to tell you about the shops in Johannesburg, it is however to tell you about a lovely evening out with my cousins. After arriving early on Saturday morning and waiting a while for my cousin who was picking me up from OR Tambo International to make her way through the traffic jam (I am looking forward to the opening of the Gautrain – this will be an easy and convenient way to get yourself from the airport to an easy pick up point, in my case Sandton) I spent the day in Sunninghill with my grandparents. My cousin said that she and her husband and her younger brother would take me out for dinner that evening so we could all catch up.
We had a number of options of where to go, but due to the late hour we were booking many of our initial choices were already fully booked. However, I am glad they were, because the restaurant we did go to was fabulous. Something that I realised on this trip up to Johannesburg, which I have never really picked up before, is that almost all of the restaurants in Johannesburg that I have been to are either attached to an hotel or a situated in a shopping centre. This is quite a stark contrast to Cape Town which has so many restaurants situated in various surroundings, such as wine farms and on the corner of a suburban road.
We made our way to the Garden Court Hotel on the corner of Rivonia Road and Cullinan Close, convenient since the suburb I was staying is found by travelling down Rivonia Road. Chez Girard in Morningside, Sandton, is a French inspired restaurant. I felt slightly underdressed in my jeans and top, but I hadn’t planned on going out for dinner while in Johannesburg, however we were welcomed with open arms and ushered straight to our table. Once comfortable we were presented with the menus and drinks orders were taken.
I must mention that service throughout the evening was relaxed yet efficient and it was a very nice touch that the owner came over to chat to us about the specials for the evening and check up on us once our meal had been served. The menu was everything a French menu should be in my opinion. Starters ranging from mussels, capriccio, French onion soup and my choice for the evening Snails Bourguignon. I must say that I am a sucker for snails … not always everyone’s taste, but perhaps my love for them is more because they come drenched in garlic and butter (2 of my favourite ingredients). These snails ticket everything on the list, juicy, tender and smothered in garlic butter. Delicious! Other starters devoured at our table were the Beef Carpaccio, served with mushrooms, olive oil and parmesan and the Timbale of Shrimp and Smoked Salmon, a delicate tower of the 2 ingredients accompanied by a horseradish and lemon cream dressing.
The main course options range from Veal Cordon Bleu to Beef Fillet, Fish dishes, Roast Duckling and more. However, we were told of at least 5 specials for the evening which all sounded delicious. I decided on something completely non-French, the Lamb Curry – however it was an excellent choice as the lamb was tender and the curry was spicy and tasty. My cousin also chose the curry and we were extremely happy with our choice. The other main courses were the Lemon Butter Sole which was grilled to perfection and the Beef Fillet which was a huge portion and require a doggy bag for lunch the next day.
I was completely stuffed after the meal and could have quite easily rolled. We squeezed in a few coffees while enjoying each other’s company and concluded the evening had been a resounding success.
I can highly recommend Chez Girard and you should definitely head there if you’re in Johannesburg and are in the mood for some fine French cuisine.
Chez Girard Restaurant
Telephone +27 (0)11 784-2105