Come to this homely Afrikaans 'plaaskombuis' or 'farm kitchen' in Northcliff for bulging plates of traditional tuisgebakte (homemade) bobotie, kaas jaffel, vetkoek, skilpadjies and maalvleis. If you don't know what these things are, ask for an English menu and prepare your stomach for a mammoth meal. Traditional Afrikaans cuisine, or Boerekos, is rich and hearty and has never been known for its small portion sizes.
The Bergbron Plaaskombuis pays homage to the South African flavours of chef and owner Johan Smith's childhood, particularly the traditional Boerekos that his Grandmother used to cook. It's the kind of unpretentious and good value comfort food that you'd more typically find far from a big city like Johannesburg. The cafe is set out just as you might find at a farm kitchen in many small South African towns. A long, shady stoep or veranda, lined by window boxes filled with herbs, occupies the entire side of a single storey building which overlooks a small garden nursery. There's a padtsal or farm shop selling local homemade jams and preserves, and a soaring steel wind pump stands guard at the entrance.
Everything on the menu has been home-made that day according to time-honoured recipes handed down through Johan's family. There's Tannie (Auntie) Una's deeply flavoursome lamb stew, Tannie Bessie's filling chicken pie and Oupa (Grandpa) Andries' sausages spiced with cayenne pepper. Even the bread is freshly baked on site each morning and if you arrive at the right time you'll be treated to the sight of trays of fluffy fresh scones emerging from the old-fashioned coal-fired oven which sits on the veranda.
Service is warm and friendly and guests are greeted with a small glass of refreshing gemmer bier (ginger beer) on arrival. So popular is this homemade ginger beer that Bergbron reportedly sells up to 75 litres of the stuff on a weekend day. There's also moer koffie on the stove on weekends. Made by simmering coarsely ground coffee for several hours, the coffee gets stronger as the day goes on until it reaches pure rocket fuel strength.
Breakfast is served all day and options include the sonop jaffel (sunrise toastie) with fried egg, bacon and cheese, putu pap (crumbly maize porridge) with maalvleis (minced meat) or a classic cooked breakfast with all the works, served in rustic enamel plates. A great way to start another busy day in the big city.