Refreshingly chic and intimate with an original and constantly changing casual menu that is centred around seasonal produce, Farro is a surprisingly special little find for a suburban shopping centre. Your hosts are owners Eloise and Alex Windebank, who with Farro have carved out for themselves the small eatery they'd always dreamed of while working in the restaurant industry in the UK (Alex brings with him experience from some of the UK's finest kitchens including Michelin-starred restaurant The Sportsman). "We play music we like to listen to, serve wine we like to drink and food we would want to sit down and eat" says Eloise of their vision to bring simplicity and seasonality into the local dining scene.
Keen followers of Joburg's pop-up dining scene may remember the pair from The Kramerville Bakery supper club which they ran after moving to Joburg from the UK in 2016. "Farro was always on the cards, but we needed to find a great location for it, so we decided to open a low key food operation that would enable us to get to know the food scene of the city whilst we looked for the right space."
The intimate space they have created in Illovo's Thrupps centre seats around 30-40 diners and is filled with things that "are beautiful, but most importantly, functional". The bar is built from old parquet flooring, the custom-made tables have been paired with repurposed old school chairs and bold black and white artworks by photographer Michael Meyersfeld hang on the walls. Intent on keeping things simple yet welcoming and comfortable, Farro effortlessly sets the scene for an unfussy, memorable dining experience with an easy-going ambience that just begs for you to linger a little longer.
Seasonality and sustainability are central to the menu which changes every week and mixes local ingredients and flavours with Modern European cooking techniques. The dedication to sourcing the finest ingredients is especially evident in the effort they go to to make everything in house - from homemade ricotta and fresh bread baked daily to home-smoked salmon and handmade pasta (a certified highlight of the starters selection).
On a recent visit some of the most memorable dishes on the menu included a divine poached trout pate which came elegantly served with a crumbed boiled egg and cured cucumber, a mix of salty flavours and smooth and crispy textures, and the snack-sized appetiser beignets (deep-fried choux pastries) with sumac and smoked paprika, a favourite from the Kramerville Bakery days.
For mains the pork belly with gnocchi and a sweet sour apple relish was a winner while a definite stand-out dish has to be the famous egg raviolo starter, which arrived neatly placed atop a thick smokey mushroom sauce, a perfect pairing for the just-right runny egg yolk inside. Those who enjoy their desserts should look out for the chocolate brownies, another staple that always finds its way onto the menu in one form or another - whether with mint ice cream and brandy snaps or with praline popcorn and banana parfait.
The drinks menu is relatively brief and carefully considered, filled with boutique wines and a handful of excellent cocktails (try the signature G&T made with kumquat gin), while on the playlist expect everything from Frank Sinatra to The Black Keys.
With food this good, booking is recommended.
Show on map
Facilities for disabled
Open 12:00–15:00 and 18:00–22:00. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended.
Price/Additional InfoCorkage R80 per wine bottle and R150 per MCC and champagne. Average price of a main course R180.
Thrupps Illovo Centre, cnr Oxford Rd and Rudd Rd, Illovo