Sophi­a­town is a place to be for a good meal, wine and chill

African Times - - News - MASHUDU SADIKE

Work­ing up the ranks in any given pro­fes­sion is hard work and takes tremen­dous ded­i­ca­tion and be­ing loyal to your ideas and con­cepts, which usu­ally for­mu­lates your dreams shows a high level of com­mit­ment.

Mzwandile Tha­bethe must then be the per­fect ex­am­ple of hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion trans­lat­ing to suc­cess. Hav­ing started Sophi­a­town Lounge bar in the cul­tural precinct of New­town with his brother al­most a decade ago, Tha­bethe con­tin­ues to ne­go­ti­ate his way to this com­plex and yet so dif­fi­cult in­dus­try.

Af­ter tag team­ing with fam­ily sell­ing fruits and veg­gies, trav­el­ing from Pimville, Zone 2 to Diep­sloot in Soweto while grow­ing up to find­ing his way to Lon­don at the age of 22, he has lit­er­ally had to find work as any­thing that he could do from work­ing at McDon­alds to be­ing a gen­i­tor. Tha­bethe has sin­gle hand­edly man­aged to come up with the 3rd in­stall­ment of the trendy Sophi­a­town fran­chise, this time in the cor­po­rate and young ex­panse of Midrand, cen­ter­ing Jo­han­nes­burg CBD and the bor­der of Pre­to­ria.

In the be­gin­ning of my young ca­reer writ­ing food and restau­rant re­views was liv­ing the high life.

I was the envy of all my friends as I have dined at many fine es­tab­lish­ments over the last few years and have had much fun shar­ing my opin­ions with read­ers. But as time goes by shar­ing my words has be­come more dif­fi­cult be­cause the more the restau­rant tries to be dif­fer­ent, the more they stay the same.

But ev­ery now and then a restau­rant stands up to be counted and de­liv­ers some­thing be­yond my ex­pec­ta­tion. Sophi­a­town lounge bar gave me an ex­pe­ri­ence sec­ond to none and de­liv­ered both great food and a five star at­mos­phere.

Sophi­a­town lounge bar is sit­u­ated in the bustling re­gion of Midrand, a few me­ters from the Boul­ders shop­ping cen­ter, fit­tingly next to the Me­cure ho­tel and 15km from the OR Tambo air­port at a Com­plex called The Link.

The first thing you no­tice as you en­ter the restau­rant most strik­ingly it’s how its full of her­itage and Ubuntu (hu­man­ity), how chic the de­signs are, the pic­tures on the walls give you a bold state­ment, they tell you that you have ar­rived in Sophi­a­town.

You are es­corted to your ta­ble where your well trained waiter, in my case Clar­ion Kamwendo, seats you. You are brought your drinks menu that has a selec­tion of cock­tails that tickle ev­ery taste bud. I was ex­plained to that cock­tails are on spe­cial from 3pm-7pm ev­ery day ex­cept Fri­days. You buy one you get one free.

Once you have or­dered your drink which in my sit­u­a­tion was a Straw­berry Mule, con­sist­ing of straw­berry liquor shaken cold with vodka, fresh lime splashed with bit­ters and topped with gin­ger beer. I was left with a dif­fi­cult choice of what meal to pick from the lav­ish menu. There is a va­ri­ety of foods in the menu, whether you pre­fer meat dishes like game or if you are a veg­e­tar­ian. There is some­thing for ev­ery­one at Sophi­a­town lounge bar.

In typ­i­cal fash­ion, I leave the de­ci­sion to my waiter and host in the hope they will bring me some­thing that epit­o­mizes the menu and the chef ’s ideals.

To start with, I was served with Flam­béed snails with gar­lic but­ter, co­rian­der and old brown sherry, served with bread. Sec­onded by Diyababa (it’s hot) chicken liv­ers pre­pared in their home made Sophi­a­town source.

The pep­pery liv­ers did lit­tle to mask the taste of their sweet­ness, but when com­bined with the chili source and the crisp bread it cre­ated a fla­vor ex­plo­sion in my mouth. Chili has a rep­u­ta­tion for de­stroy­ing fla­vors, but the sub­tlety in which it formed part of this starter only helped in cre­at­ing its unique­ness.

For my main course, I was served with a slowly roasted lamb shank topped with Napo wine ac­com­pa­nied by veg­gies and samp. The lamb fell off the bone with­out ef­fort; it was ten­der and moist, car­ry­ing the unique fla­vor of lamb through all its ac­com­pa­ni­ments to de­liver a well-bal­anced and com­plete meal. The sweet mash potato was done to per­fec­tion, creamy and soft. The samp was out­stand­ing; I would never com­pare my mother’s cook­ing but found my­self think­ing it. For dessert there are of­fers of ice cream with syrup, choco­late mousse, cake of the day and malva pud­ding.

You could come to Sophi­a­town lounge bar ev­ery day for a week and never do the same thing twice. Its di­vided into dis­tinct sec­tions­foe eat­ing, drink­ing, danc­ing, play­ing games, a cigar lounge what­ever your night or day time pref­er­ences are.

I had just fin­ished with my food when I asked my waiter if he was keen on a game of chess. Since it had not been a busy Sun­day, he obliged and by the end of the game, a jazz band was com­ing in to ser­e­nade the pa­trons with some live jazz that went on un­til late amidst a bot­tle of fine wine I was de­vour­ing.

Joburg spoils you for choice with high-end din­ing choices. Sophi­a­town bar lounge de­liv­ers this with both for­mal and less for­mal op­tions; it’s ac­ces­si­ble, off street park­ing. Even if you don’t have time for a meal, stop­ping in for a cock­tail be­fore your next meet­ing is worth it.

I have been wait­ing a while to be in­spired to do my job. My friends hound me to trade jobs with them so they can eat great meals, drive nice cars and travel to in­ter­est­ing places. I have of­ten taken them along with me and even con­tem­plated giv­ing them my job at times too. But af­ter eat­ing at Sophi­a­town bar lounge, I’m in­spired by the hard work of Tha­bethe and those be­hind the scenes at a place like this.

I must urge those of you who are in search for per­fec­tion, in­spi­ra­tion and amaz­ing nights or days to visit this gem in the heart of Midrand.

Mzwandile Tha­bethe, the owner of Sophi­a­town Midrand.

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