Have a bird’s eye view of the russet autumn canopy

Escape to the world of the rich and famous for a brief cocktail hour

Escape to the world of the rich and famous for a brief cocktail hour

4 11 April Westcliff sundowners.docxGuests here at Liz at Lancaster recently treated themselves to a drink at the Four Seasons Westcliff.  They went to Flames restaurant, sat outside on the deck and enjoyed a cocktail and a glass of chilled wine while taking in one of the most spectacular views in Joburg – over the treed gardens of the Parks suburbs and up to the Parktown Ridge.  So if for a brief (and expensive) hour, you want to escape edgy fast-paced Jozi and its gritty contrasts then a drink (or even better a meal) at Flames at the Westcliff is Liz at Lancaster’s Pick of the Week. www.fourseasons.com/johannesburg

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What more could one want? Good coffee, good books and a social catch-up

Newly revamped Exclusive Books Hyde Park

Newly revamped Exclusive Books Hyde Park

The coffee shop in Exclusive spills out into the Mall passage

The coffee shop in Exclusive Books, Rosebank spills out into the Mall passage

Two sisters (whom I have now lost touch with), used to meet one evening a week at Exclusive Books. They’d choose a section to browse, collect books of interest, find one of those great little reading nooks with a coffee table and a couple of comfy chairs, order something to drink and a light meal from the coffee shop, and settle in to have a catch-up chat as well as share views on new publications and good reads.  I always thought it was a great idea and I think of them so often when I go to the newly revamped Exclusive books in Hyde Park (5 minutes from Liz at Lancaster). The Exclusive Books branch in Sandton Square closed down leaving Hyde Park as the flagship store, although the branch in Rosebank Mall is also pretty impressive.

Exclusive Books 2Exclusive books 5From being quite a dark pokey space it is now airy, spacious, contemporary – with a wonderful expanse of floor to ceiling windows behind EB Social Eatery and Bar, the restaurant at the back of the store; a coffee counter on the left as you go in; and huge communal tables with loads of space to pile books that you choose to browse. There are also some smaller tables with chairs dotted around in more private nooks.  I haven’t eaten at the EB Social Eatery and Bar but it seems that there are early day teething problems with patrons commenting on slow service, high prices, small portions and a ‘no doggy-bag’ policy (which seems to be a bit of a contradiction!!) It’s not your standard bookshop café fare as the kitchen is run by Russell Armstrong who has had experience at three-Michelin-starred restaurants in France and the 4th April ExclusiveUK, including Le Gavroche. … so it’s not surprising it’s a sophisticated menu with quite steep pricing.  I think I might stick to the coffee shop fare in the mean time.

But this remains Liz’s Pick of the Week.

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Escape to the country – only 5 blocks from Liz at Lancaster

Delta 2Delta cafeAutumn is a poignant time for some with the falling leaves, russet colours and crisp morning air signaling somehow the start of the bleaker winter months to come and the passing of yet another summer which, like all summers, never seemed quite long enough.  But the lushness after the much-needed late rains and the sparkling washed greens and clear blue skies, also make this one of the most beautiful times of the year.  So to go to Delta Café for breakfast over the Easter week-end was a treat. A mere 5 blocks from Liz at Lancaster, it’s a gentle Delta playgroundlittle oasis in this fast paced city.

Nestled between the local nursery Colourful Splendour and the spruit running through Delta Park, it has a country feel to it and it’s only 5 blocks from Liz at Lancaster. There’s a basic jungle gym for children, dogs are welcomed and it’s a favourite with cyclists.  One couldn’t ask for much more than to sit under dappled shade on a lovely deck,  enjoy simple satisfying food in a gentle peaceful atmosphere.  Kids can work off some energy on the jungle gym before tucking into boiled eggs and soldier-toast, dogs can quench their thirst with water bowls provided, and adults can kick back and enjoy the wholesome fare and soak in the peace. If you want to escape the hurly-burly freneticism of enclosed Mall eating or the convertible and sunglasses pavement-café culture – this is your place. It’s a haven of rustic charm.

Delta waiting areaAnd owner Daniel has even built a little wooden booth waiting area.

28 March Delta Cafe

When we were there we even heard the horses whinny – how’s that for a rural feel!

So all this explains why it’s my PICK OF THE WEEK this week.

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