My husband and I were recently on the hunt for somewhere new to enjoy a late Saturday afternoon lunch. We love tapas style eating and a quick spot of research yielded Lonely Hearts Club in Melville.
Long known as Joburg’s bohemian ‘burb, a number of cool new foodie spots and watering holes are breathing new life into Melville. Lonely Hearts Club located on the most vibrant artery of Melville, 7th Street, is one of these. This is the third eatery opened by the talented duo behind the already popular Melville joints, Hell’s Kitchen and one of our favourite Mexican restaurants. La Santa Meurte. They describe Lonely Hearts Club as “a more sophisticated” version of Hell’s Kitchen, “with an emphasis on food”. While the emphasis may be on the food, the commitment to creating an engaging space and experience through beautiful décor and design is unmistakable.
Ambience: Warm and inviting speakeasy chic (5/5)
Food & Drinks: (Generous) Spanish-inspired tapa’s and cocktails (4/5)
Service: Very Good (4/5)
Overall: A cool spot with good vibes to hang out and share some delicious tapas.
When we stepped into the inviting speakeasy inspired space, we were immediately pleased with our choice. A chill yet vibey atmosphere complete with a talented DJ on the decks welcomed us. Floor to ceiling wood paneling, parquet flooring and a well-stocked wooden bar provide a distinctly genteel backdrop. Inside seating is provided by comfy leather tub chairs, perfect for lingering over a meal. There’s also a sizeable courtyard which was packed with happy patrons despite the chill in the air. In addition, there’s a bar in a separate out-building off the courtyard that’s kitted out with buttoned leather couches and red theater curtains.
FOOD & DRINK
There is a small cocktail menu which has all the classics. On arrival, I opted to start with a classic vodka martini and wasn’t disappointed. Especially when it arrived perfectly garnished with the obligatory 3 olives on a toothpick. My husband decided to try a Manhattan which took my breath away but was super delicious.
The wine list is a little disappointing although we did manage find an easy drinking chardonnay to accompany the largely vegetarian and seafood tapas we ended up selecting. As one would expect, there is a more comprehensive whiskey menu.
I’d heard good things about the food and again, we weren’t disappointed. The menu has a selection of vegetarian, cheese, poultry, seafood and meat dishes to choose from. Alas, there were only 2 of us so we couldn’t try as many dishes as I would have liked! Even so, expecting tapas sized dishes, we ordered enthusiastically starting with some vegetarian tapas. This included the whole fire roasted cauliflower, burrata and the potatoes bravas. We got two gorgeously fire-roasted small cauliflowers with a tangy honey, mustard and herb dressing. The generously portioned burrata arrived on a simple but tasty fresh tomato, onion & herb salsa. Be warned, these “tapas” plates are enough for 4 people (as a traditional tapas-sized serving).
We then added some yummy spiced prawns with truffle fries, and mussels in a creamy garlic and shitake mushroom sauce which arrived with a cheesy garlic loaf. The sauce was superb and we dipped everything into it including the decadent delicious truffle fries.
While we didn’t have room for meat tapas after all this, I did keep an eye on what was coming out of the kitchen. There are clearly dishes on offer to satisfy any carnivore. The Brazilian rump espetada comes in a 300g or man-sized 600g portion. The crispy lamb cumin and crispy duck cigars are clearly a popular choice. Aside from the tapas style dishes, there are pizza’s on offer under their “Kitchen Specials” section of the menu. You can check out the full menu here.
We’re already planning our next trip with a bigger group so we can try more of the delicious looking dishes on the menu.
I’d been warned that the service could be “variable”. However, we were more than pleasantly surprised. The service we had was outstanding. Our waitress was engaging, always available without lingering awkwardly, and kept the bar staff on their toes when she felt the cocktails were taking too long to prep. She played a large part in the fabulous experience we had here so we reciprocated with a well-deserved, generous tip.
Lonely Hearts Club
9 7th Street, Melville, Johannesburg
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00pm to 10:30pm and Sunday 12pm to 5pm
Tel: 082 267 1293
THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST
(RELATED POSTS: See more of our restaurant reviews here.)