Vegan, keto, dairy-free, plant-based… you’ve heard it all before. As the personalised diet market continues to grow — and its legions of loyal followers — it can be a bit challenging when choosing a place to eat that accommodates everyone.
This was the conundrum facing newly minted restaurateur Nadia Singh.
Whenever she ate out with her family or friends who had specific dietary requirements, someone always seemed to be making a sacrifice, whether it be the carnivore attempting a meat-free burger, or the vegetarian making do with a makeshift meal that oftentimes resembled the sides for a main course. And so, Bespokery came to be.
Positioned as the place for “fussy foodies”, this hole-in-the-wall eatery serves up flavoursome, wholesome food made from predominantly local produce that caters to personal dietary preferences without compromising the joy of dining out.
It’s not about meat substitutes packed with ingredients you need a chemistry degree to understand, nor is it about repurposing one thing to taste “just like” something else (spoiler alert: it almost never tastes “just like” its original counterpart).
The menu — influenced by the greater-Mediterranean region — is the genius of chef Michael Hibbins and features a wonderful array of small plates, which are perfect for sharing. For the keto diner, there’s a mouth-wateringly tender confit lamb shoulder accompanied by a salty kalamata olive tapenade that perfectly brings the dish into balance; while the mushroom arancini balls served in a delicious Napolitana sauce, split with a vibrant thyme oil, is a must for vegetarians.
Make sure to leave room for dessert though. The dark chocolate and passion fruit ganache with yoghurt sorbet served on a bed of toasted chocolate is a delightful mix of flavour and texture.
Singh has defied the norms with her wine list, too. A concise but artfully curated selection of interesting local wines, which are all available by the carafe, allowing guests to mix and match as they work their way through their courses and dishes.
What I enjoyed most about my visit to Bespokery was that, contrary to what I had initially thought, it wasn’t about dietaries at all: it’s not a vegan, vegetarian or keto eatery — and you’d be doing it a disservice to label it as such because it’s so much more than that.
It’s a place where, ironically, you needn’t worry about personal dietary preferences at all — nor be shamed for being “that person”. It’s a place where you can go with friends and family knowing there’ll be something “bespoke” for everyone to enjoy — even for the fussiest friend at the table.
• Bespokery is open Wednesdays — Sundays, times vary. 66 Tyrone Ave, Parkview. See bespokery.co.za for more information.