EAT: PRETTY DARN NICE

Fourth Avenue Parkhurst, situated in Joburg’s “gay belt” (Melville, Greenside, Parkhurst and Craighall Park), is one of the city’s most fashionable streets. It’s a popular eating spot – especially for breakfasts, brunches and lunches on weekends. In fact, a Parkhurst weekend brunch is an almost “must-do” for any gay couple and their friends. You’ll also find a smattering of celebrities, boys and girls with dogs on leashes, and of course the inevitable cruising and posing down the road in open top cars.

So it’s ‘nice’ to know that a new option to socialise, while enjoying a good meal, recently opened its doors. And just in time for summer and outdoors café-style eating. The establishment is called Nice. Now nice is a word I was ordered never to use by an English teacher (“It’s a bland, non-word”, she would pronounce authoritatively to the class), but it’s rather appropriate here.

Nice won’t blow your socks off. It’s not garish, over the top, luxurious, or particularly innovative, but it’s a pretty darn nice place to have a light languid meal with friends on a summer’s day. True to its name, the décor is pleasant; evoking a French Provencal ambiance.

Nice is rather small, so you may struggle to get a table – especially right now while it’s at its novelty peak. It doesn’t have a liquor license, but thankfully there’s a small discreet shop selling alcohol next door. Nice can however provide you with wine glasses and an ice bucket to chill your bottle of Pongratz.

The uncomplicated menu is largely of the salad and ciabatta sandwich variety – but with quality fresh ingredients. I and my two table-mates chose the same item for lunch: rump salad with roast balsamic onions. I asked for the addition of avocado, which in my mind would top off the whole things rather well. I wasn’t mistaken. The serving was a good size and the chunks of rump were of excellent quality, lovingly caressed by the dark sweet onions.

The service was generally friendly, jovial and witty, if a little scatterbrained.

For those with a sweet tooth, Nice will be of particular interest. They lay out a fantastic dessert table which is one of the freshest and most appealing I’ve come across in some time. I’m not much of a dessert-man myself, but I was very impressed with the home-baked sweets. We tried a selection including a chocolate ginger cake and fig and apple tarts. The cake was literally oozing chocolate flavour – rather lewdly actually – and it was declared by all a masterful triumph. Go there just for this.

Cakes can be ordered for birthdays and events and I’d highly recommend giving Nice a try if you’re in the market to entertain with pastries and cakes.

The restaurant has been noted for its coffee, including the Blue Mountain variety. Grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, it’s famed for its apparently mild flavor and lack of bitterness and has become one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world.

At R60 a shot, we opted out of trying it, so I can’t say whether it might be worth the money, but if you’re a well-heeled caffeine aficionado, do give it a try (and let us know). The standard cappuccino was nevertheless still quite good.

Nice is located at Cnr 14th Street and 4th Avenue, Parkhurst Johannesburg and is open for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. Tel: (011) 786 6286.


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