When the Cnr. CafÃ© sprung up on a previously unattractive… well… corner of a Craighall Park street block, predictions were that it was all very ‘touch and go’. While this Joburg suburb has seen a recent growth spurt in eateries, it’s primarily a residential area, and the Cnr. CafÃ©’s out of the way location didn’t bode well.
Thankfully, this charming pavement style bistro is still going strong, having garnered a loyal following. It started out primarily as a breakfast and lunch venue, but is now open for dinner – every day except Sunday.
The menu is nothing too fancy; it offers a good range of faithful, easy-eating standards: the usual breakfast options; burgers; fish and chips; pastas; sandwiches; and salads. True, there’s not much imagination here, but these favourites are given their due respect by Chef Patron Greig Walker; ingredients are fresh, portions are satisfying and even the humble hamburger is a tasty rustic-looking treat.
The menu is complemented by a selection of more adventurous and complex specials presented on a blackboard, from which I chose my meal; sliced rump tossed in tom yum on a bed of tomato and rocket. At R48.00, the meat was tender, the sauce sufficiently spicy and the almost shoelace chips (or ‘frites’, if you prefer to be culinarily poncy) crisply fried. A very satisfying dish, which I’d certainly order again.
The ‘ex’ indulged in a sundried tomato pesto chicken salad (also R48.00), which presented a healthy portion of fowl. It’s refreshing to come across a well-assembled salad in which the main ingredient is not relegated to mere garnishing and there’s more on the plate than a mountain of iceberg lettuce.
In a town in which appearance, diets and food fads are of apparent everyday concern to its image conscious botoxed citizens – I’ve always been astonished at the sad salad offerings available at most restaurants. (Cape Town seems much more progressive when it comes to options of the salad kind.)
But I digress. The meal was topped off with a fine cup of coffee, and a shared slice of lemon meringue pie. While a tad too ‘eggy’ in aftertaste, it was still a very pleasing and decadent conclusion to the experience.
The Cnr. CafÃ© is a relatively small establishment and recommended for warm sunny days (you won’t always find a free table outside though); the interior has been known to be downright freezing on a cold winter’s morning. A deli offering a humble range of Mediterranean style goods can be found inside.
The crowd leans towards female and gay suburbanites – and combinations thereof – but also boasts the odd family table or two. Service is fair to good, and look out for the very attractive blonde waiter that gets plenty of stares from the boys and the hetero girls.
The Cnr. CafÃ© is recommended for relaxed breakfasts and lunches (although why they’re not open for breakfast on that ‘most breakfast of days’, Sunday, is beyond me).
It is located on the Corner of Buckingham and Rothesay Avenues, in Craighall Park, Johannesburg. Tel: (011) 880 2244.