Normally I wouldn’t make the 45 minute trek to Pretoria, especially when the country is load shedding and the robots (traffic lights) aren’t working, but an old friend from grad school was in town so I braved the snarled traffic to meet her at Salt Eatery. If Salt were in Joburg, it would be on heavy rotation as a spot to meet friends for an after work drink and some food. I loved everything about this tiny eatery in Hazelwood from the lantern-lit tables on a secluded patio to the make your own charcuterie platter. There are a limited number of small plates that are perfect for sharing as well as a few larger options if you are feeling a bit more peckish.
We had the restaurant select the charcuterie platter for us – an italian style ham, a homemade sauccicion, a lovely blue cheese, brie, some condiments, and a selection of homemade breads. As if that were not enough food, we ordered the puerco pibil (pork belly), arrancini, and parmesan truffle fries to accompany our starter. Choosing was not easy as there were so many tempting options from the umami burger to the scotch egg with blood pudding. The selection is constantly changing so I imagine if I were a regular, there would always be new treats to sample. We ended the meal with sticky toffee pudding and caramel ice cream that along with the mozzarella arrancini was the highlight of the meal. Service was slow, which is not uncommon in South African restaurants, but friendly.
All of the diners elected to sit outside under the clear, starry sky the only light emanating from the lanterns on each table. The food was good, but what made this small restaurant special was the fact that I was sharing a table with an old friend. It was one of those meals where the food and wine was only secondary to good conversation – a conversation that filled in the gaps since we last saw one another. We laughed over youthful indiscretions, marveled at our rewarding careers and, in her case, talked about her family. Food has a way of bringing people together even if a number of years have passed.
Given that the only light was from a solar lantern, I don’t have any photos to share, but if you find yourself in Pretoria add this lovely place to your list of places to try. I for one hope another visitor lures me to Pretoria so that I can try the burger.