Burnside Cafe: A hidden gem

Burnside Cafe is a romantic, quaint gem of a restaurant situated in Craighall. The restaurant is a converted house with a gorgeous view of the garden. Parking is small and awkward and you might have to park on the road on a busy day. I loved the garden which had a little water feature and fairy lights. The dinner vibe can best be described as pretty and relaxing. We sat outside and had a great view and ambient music to serenade us. My bf described it as one of those places that you are just hoping that the food will be amazing so you have reason to go again. I certainly do agree with this impression. There were plenty of nice touches that you would only find with owner run restaurants. I really do believe it makes a difference.

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I have been here for dinner and then breakfast. First up the dinner experience:

I loved that my burnsides lemonade for R25 was served with strawberries. There is also ginger beer, pimms, rum coolers, various shakes and the usual drinks to choose from. Jugs of water are also served with strawberries and grapes.

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We were presented with amuse bouche of bread with pesto butter and mini onion and cheese tartlets. This was a really nice gesture – I have only ever been served amuse bouche at a fancy restaurant once. I loved the pesto butter, the pastry on the tart was delicious but the cheese in the tartlet was a little too pungent for my palate. There are 3 salad starters on the menu and 3 normal starters, one of which is the three cheese tart. Seeing as this is a starter on the menu, perhaps something different could be served as most people order either this or the prawn cakes as a starter.

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We had the whole baked camembert served with candied pecans, figs, grapes and toasted ciabatta for R66 as starters. There is not much I can say about this dish as no cooking is required!

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The restaurant was quiet when we arrived but became busy after our starters. We waited close to an hour for our mains to arrive. This didn’t bother us as we weren’t hungry and the ambience was lovely. I do think they have way too few waiters. They cannot cope with the amount of tables on busy nights. The one waiter served five tables outside and possibly a few inside. While the service was pleasant early on, we didn’t receive a drinks order and had a long wait for the bill later on in the evening.

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The chicken pot pie for R80 served with hand cut chips didn’t look very appealing. The pastry was uneven and shoddy and lacked a nice caramelization. Homemade chips were brown and burnt. The mayo served didn’t compliment the dish either. I found the sauce interestingly delicious though very sweet. What was really lacking for me in this dish was the pastry. The pastry covering the pie on the outside wasn’t enough for me.

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The chicken pesto fettuccini consisted of shredded chicken with pesto cream, parmesan and chilli for R85. The sauce lacked seasoning: it didnt have enough salt and tasted sour as a result of a little too much lemon juice being used. I couldn’t taste the chilli and this wasn’t served with lashings of parmesan on top. I saw other tables being served parmesan and chilli; I wish we had been served this as it would have certainly improved my pasta. The shredded chicken in the pasta is a good choice for those that don’t like big blobs of meat in a dish.

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For an owner run restaurant I was surprised to not see the owner on a busy weekend. There are cakes on offer for dessert but these looked stodgy and not freshly baked. Peering around at other dishes – the prawn cakes starter looked small and the lamb cutlets bland.

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The breakfast experience:

We sat inside for breakfast and I don’t particularly like the inside seating. It’s not bad but outside is that much more amazing. The service and wait for food was shocking. We waited 2 hours for breakfast. I had the two poached eggs with relish and toast for R30. The relish was roasted tomatoes and onions. I think this was really decently priced but a small portion so I was still hungry.

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Scrambled eggs on toast with smoked trout and herb creme fraiche for R79.

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Toasted muesli served with Greek yoghurt & seasonal fruit for R48.

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Since my last visit there is now a roastery, pizza and wine bar on the property as well. What I loved most was the romantic peaceful setting. The menu is small but the prices are decent. Despite my nitpickings the food was slightly better than average. I would definitely go again to try something else on the menu. I also hope they get more waiters for busy nights! I would definitely recommend you go for dinner and try and get a table outside.

Click: http://www.burnsides.co.za
Ring: (011) 326 3970
Hop: 6 Burnside Avenue, Craighall

Cafes & Gardens,
CG

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