Walking into The Leopard in Melville, you get the sense that nothing here is quite what you’d expect … a sense that’s confirmed as soon as the first plate is put on the table. The Leopard’s food is local, ethical, seasonal and unlike anything you’ve eaten before … you’ll simply love it!
I paid The Leopard a visit on a Wednesday night and was pretty blown away … the meals were served on mismatched crockery under an array of vintage-store lampshades, which just added to the already warm and funky feel of the place.
To start, I opted for sweet roasted red peppers on milky buffalo mozzarella, which arrived sitting in a puddle of grassy olive oil sprinkled with a garlic and chilli dressing – the whole dish was a nod to the brilliance of Italian simplicity. Wonderful! I just wish there had been more bread to mop up delicious juices.
Then came a trio of dips: baba ganoush, tzatziki and a beetroot ginger combo. Each one was as tasty as the next so it’s hard to pick favourites here!
The beef and herb meatballs we had next were a brilliant execution of the Sunday lunch flavours that most of us know oh-so-well. The meatballs were perfectly tender and the butterbean mash they came with was a great vessel for the sticky onion gravy. Baby carrots added a little sweetness to an otherwise totally savoury plate. Amazing how a supposedly familiar dish becomes so exciting when it’s made with care and great ingredients.
Next up (yes, yes, we ate a lot … moving on) we had an Asian-influenced deep fried quail, coated in a thin, crisp batter with fall-off-the bone meat beneath. It was served with an addictive Thai-style sweet chili sauce for dunking and coleslaw dressed with a sweet,sharp vinaigrette. It made for compulsive eating, I must say!
Naturally, we ended the meal with something sweet – a chocolate brownie … though, to just call it a brownie doesn’t do justice to this gorgeously dark slab made with 70 per cent dark chocolate and dotted with white chocolate pieces. The centre was molten and the vanilla ice cream alongside made for a divinely rich and gooey combination. Forget ‘light’, this was everything a dessert should be.
Chef and owner Andrea Burgener did us Joburgers an enormous favour when she opened The Leopard; she woke up our unadventurous palates and charmed us into trying combinations we would normally shy away from. Most importantly though, Andrea has shown us how much fun you can have when you go adventuring in a restaurant instead of just eating there … so try it if you haven’t yet – food doesn’t get much more exciting than the dishes they’re serving at The Leopard of Melville.
by Amy Searll