Nestled in the Thrupps Centre, wedged beside a fishmonger, sits Farro: a quaint new casual, fine-dining restaurant that we predict will fast become a firm Joburg favourite. “Joburg has a certain grit to it,” remarks Eloise Windebank, co-owner and the smiling face you meet front of house.
“There’s a real hunger in the city for quality eating and drinking establishments. We have no mountain, no ocean, no forests to occupy our time here. Eating and drinking is our social pleasure. We should have the best restaurants in Africa. We want to be a part of that growth.” Farro’s growth came from the much-loved and now closed, Kramerville Bakery — a small space at the back of an industrial warehouse lot, which would accumulate lines out the door five minutes after a bake sale opened on a Saturday. But the bakery offered more than just incredible custard doughnuts: on occasion it would host fine-dining dinner pop-ups in the space, and now Farro is the full-blown actualisation of this practice.
Farro, named after an ancient Italian grain, focuses on modern European cooking, with African flavours and local ingredients. Like most restaurants these days, its owners are also passionate about cooking seasonally, and source the highestquality ingredients from ethical and sustainable sources. This translates into a tight menu that is broken up in to four sections with no real designation, but, if one were to hazard a guess, it would be snacks, starters, mains, and sweets. Each section holds no more than five options, but all the vegetarian and protein choices are evident.
I’ve scoured and munched my way up and down the menu, and can assure you that there is a lot of thought put into each dish. Whether it be the texture of the pork belly, the taste combination of fried chicken strips and caviar, or the playfulness of chunky-seed cracks coupled with pig’s head terrine, a wonderful balance is stuck.
But I am most certainly going to be eating many an eggyolk raviolo — the legit name for one ravioli, if you didn’t already know. I must say that cracking open wonderfully thin handmade pasta and having egg yolk run over a bed of sweet corn and chilli is a very nice feeling indeed. Dishes and skills like these can be attributed to chef-patron Alex Windebank’s time working across the UK at various Michelin-starred and -recommended restaurants.
The wine list, littered with bottles from various local maverick winemakers, is thanks to his wife Eloise, who made a name for herself over the pond for her skills behind the bar. She is also a dab hand at making what she likes to call “proper drinks: grown-up cocktails, free of umbrellas and guff”, so be sure to ask for a bit more edge to your drinks and food pairing.