Bottegaby Amy Searll / 04.12.2013
Some people are ‘breakfast people’, while others can manage no more than coffee and death stares in the morning. I fall into the first category. I’m irritatingly upbeat in the morning and I completely adore eating my first meal of the day. And by that I don’t mean the infamous grey cereal that looks and tastes like a piece of paper covered in milk, I mean really good food.
It’s true, eating breakfast is important; but I believe that eating a delicious breakfast is imperative, which is why it really annoys me that so many restaurants treat their breakfast menus as an afterthought.
We’ve come to expect the usual fried eggs, flabby bacon and lukewarm oversized piece of tomato, muesli, yoghurt, egg and chips. It’s a very predictable, and very average list. A wonderful, imaginative breakfast offering is not easy to pull off, and I believe any restaurant that does should be celebrated.
So, when I find a truly great breakfast menu, I get very, very excited. And it makes me so happy that Joburg is now experiencing a sort of ‘breakfast revolution’, with places like Tasha’s really raising the bar in chain restaurant breakfasts, and Nice blowing everyone’s minds (mine included) with their phenomenal Egg Baskets.
But there’s one, tiny café, that’s been making great breakfasts since before it was fashionable. And that’s Bottega, right at the top of Fourth Avenue in Parkhurst. It’s a tiny, unassuming space, with décor that leans toward ‘Italian Chic’. It has quite a clean and classic feel, which I find refreshing in an area where highly stylized concept eateries are popping up every five minutes.
For me, a breakfast menu should have a good balance of sweet and savoury choices – and dishes that are a mixture of both. Bottega has all that and more. Their breakfast menu includes a wide range of filled croissants, sweet and savoury French toast, healthy options like stewed berries and yoghurt, omelettes and frittatas (which they’re very well known for), and a great section called ‘Breakfast with a Difference’. It lives up to the name, with dishes like poached eggs, turkey breast and emmental on rye, and health toast topped with sliced tomato, fresh basil leaves, poached eggs and grilled haloumi.
On a recent visit with my family, my dad and I shared a pepper, onion, tomato and feta frittata and blueberry flapjacks. As I said, Bottega is known for their frittatas and ours was very good. Light, airy eggs and sharp, creamy Danish feta was balanced out by the sweet sautéed onions and peppers. Tomato and fresh basil gave the whole dish a great, fresh lift.
The flapjacks were light, and the just-cooked blueberries were bursting out of the batter, though I would’ve liked some more of them. The bacon they were served with was impressively crispy.
I also tasted croissant French toast filled with scrambled egg, bacon and maple syrup. It’s basically impossible to go wrong with those three ingredients so as I expected it was delicious. The croissant was buttery, and the sweet – salty combination of the bacon, impressively soft scrambled eggs and syrup made the whole thing quite scrumptious.
Bottega has never been the trendiest or prettiest of restaurants, and their breakfasts are not very contemporary, but to be frank, I don’t care. Their breakfast menu is still one of the most interesting, and expansive, around. They make good, simple food really well, which nowadays is a rarity. So if you’re tired of ‘yoghurt parfaits’ and the same – old fry – ups, give it a try, because this a place that’s treating a neglected mealtime with great respect.
* Bottega, 22d, 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, Johannesburg