In my ever-long search for new breakfast nooks in and around the parks, I never thought that I should perhaps venture a little further west into the suburbia of Linden to find an eatery that would offer a good dining environment with equally good food. It was only by chance that I had to travel through Linden, and was surprised to find a corner cafe that reminded me a little of a couple of restaurants in the East Village in New York, and also of Haas in Cape Town. Now, I am forced to eat my words, and I am quite happy to do it, so long as I have to eat them in The Whippet.
The Whippet, situated on the corner of 7th and 4th, brings a touch of up-market style to a suburb notorious for being less concerned with style than its Parkhurst neighbour. The large glass windows, grey and face brick exterior, and wooden furniture immediate stands out against the local shops on the street which have been there for the past 20 to 30 years, and how have abandoned the need for consistent, clean and inviting branding. Here is hoping that The Whippet inspires a bit of a design revolution in the area – as Linden desperately needs to be pulled out of the early 1980’s, kicking and screaming if needs be.
The exterior may be inviting enough to get you through the front door, but the interior confirms that you have not been tricked into believing that there is a decent coffee shop/eatery in Linden. The face brick style is carried through, and what makes it even more cosy are the large windows that allow sunlight to flood the interior, proving much needed warmth during the winter months. Adding to the quaintness and cosiness of the Whippet is that the north facing side of the cafe is about 1 meter below street level, giving it that distinct New York or Boston cafe style.
In addition to the simple, flowing layout, and minimalist, natural and inviting interior, The Whippet’s designers have added a few quirky design elements making it all the more interesting. To break the face brick, the guys have added a vintage style bicycle, and in the corner, pipes have been configured to provide a shelving solution. you soon realize that a great deal of attention was paid to each element included in the store, and further, that most items are for sale, including the table and chairs that you are sitting on.
So, from a design perspective, The Whippet scores brilliantly, however great design aside, what about the food and beverages on sale? Thankfully, as much attention has been paid to the menu as has been paid to the store design.
The food on offer ranges from the simple and expected breakfasts that the locals probably demand, so yes, traditional breakfasts and French toast is on offer, however, a deeper look into the menu reveals a few surprisingly innovative dishes, that, in my opinion, are well worth the trip to Linden. As breakfast croissants go, Linden has there’s down, with the crispy bacon and egg croissant being one of the best in Jozi. But what stands out as destination dishes are The Whippet Breakfast Delight and The Whippet Bacon Breakfast Basket meals.
The Whippet Breakfast Delight is a traditional poached egg breakfast, with a tempura twist. The poached egg if dipped in batter and fried tempura style. The Whippet Bacon Breakfast Basket goes a little further than the breakfast baskets offered by Nice and Burnsides. If bacon is what you are after, then this is perfect for you. Instead of bread providing the basket for the breakfast, The Whippet uses layer after layer of bacon – perhaps a touch too much bacon – yes, I said it. And from the coffee side, yes, they are very good, although it doesn’t live up to the quality and taste of Motherland. But it provides a better coffee product than, lets say Origin or Vida, just far less commercial, and with that, far less convenient. I also recommend the fudge to go with the coffee – with several flavours available, but as a traditionalist, the caramel flavour remains my choice.
All in all, The Whippet is a much-welcomed addition to the sleepy Linden shopping lane. It is at least one reason why I can now recommend that exploration of Linden, although I do hope it inspires more development and perhaps the artistic movement that Parkhurst seems to be setting aside for more commercial ventures. If you are feeling adventurous, then I recommend The Whippet, but not on a Sunday – as they are closed. Very frustrating, but I suppose even they need a break.