I’m coming clean – as much as I enjoy residing in the busy suburb of Sandton, I’ve got to admit that sometimes I just want to escape to somewhere green, lush and tranquil. Being a former Capetonian, can you blame me? I’m all about those long, lazy alfresco brunches!

If you share this consensus, you’ll be delighted to know that there’s a charming little restaurant situated on the Montrose Nursery property in Morningside that ticks all the boxes – outstanding food, enthusiastic service, a beautiful garden setting, and a cheerful, laid-back atmosphere. Say hello to Gia’s on Montrose!

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Last weekend, I decided to pop into this well-loved little eatery for the first time, and I’m so glad I did. I arrived with a good friend of mine in the late morning for a boozy brunch. We were instantly made to feel right at home by the owner, Michelle, and her tremendously ambitious staff.

We were lucky enough to secure a table under the trees, which was a real treat on such a beautiful, sunny day. To start off, my friend and I had a round of cappuccinos with cream and we could taste the fine Italian quality. That’s just one of the things you can look forward to at Gia’s.

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Looking through the menu, we agreed that deciding on a single dish would be a tough task. With many different options, ranging from hearty breakfasts and fresh salads to home-made burgers and speciality mains, you’re truly spoilt for choice here. Eventually, I decided on the Eggs Benedict with ham, while my friend went for the Nordic Sunrise Breakfast.

While we waited, we sipped shaken martinis while enjoying the garden ambience. Our breakfasts arrived beautifully presented and my Eggs Benedict was oozing with mozzarella cheese and drenched in the most perfect hollandaise sauce. You can bet that I scoffed every last mouthful!

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My friend was kind enough to let me have a little taste of his gourmet breakfast, which was 40g grilled, smoked salmon, poached eggs, grilled halloumi, grilled rosemary-infused mushrooms, grilled tomato, and rye toast. A delicious spread and the salmon was sublime! I’ll definitely be returning to tuck into my own brekkie like this. I also loved the edible flowers that both our plates were garnished with.

After quite literally cleaning our plates, we decided to order another round of cocktails – this time cosmopolitans – and then to end off our outstanding brunch on a sweet note, we had Gia’s signature baked cheesecake to share. It was love at first bite! I don’t think I’ve tasted better cheesecake anywhere.

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Gia's really is a hidden gem and not only for summer dining. In winter, a fireplace keeps you warm and cosy inside and they’re also child-friendly with a play area out back. I highly recommend them and I’m sure you’ll find yourself returning time and again.

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Is there anything better on a mid-Saturday morning than a good plate of eggs Benedict and a refreshing Bloody Mary? We didn’t think so! Brunch is a saving grace – it doesn’t happen too early, it offers just the right amount of indulgence, and it’s a social event that almost everyone enjoys. We’ve rounded up our favourite go-to brunch spots in Jozi that are sure to satisfy nearly every craving in the book – happy feasting!

The Whippet Coffee

The well-loved spot that is The Whippet Coffee is one of our city’s trendiest brunch destinations. Visitors rave about their speciality teas and coffee and handcrafted foods – and for good reason! Let’s just say that we're yet to have a disappointing meal here. On the menu, you’ll find drool-worthy brunch options, including a Crispy Bacon Croissant, Breakfast Burrito, Eggs Benedict and Fresh Papaya Bowl. Accompany your dish of choice with their Wake Shake or Crème Brulee Latte and you’re all set for a downright delectable meal, which you can enjoy in the beautifully decorated indoor section or at a table under the trees outside. Just be sure to arrive extra early to secure yourself a table.

Where: 34 7th Street, Linden, Johannesburg.

Café de la Créme 

Our favourite brunch spot in Melville is Café de la Créme – by far. This French-styled bakery and cafe show off a light-meal menu offering bread, cakes, pastries, wraps, a variety of Turkish- and Greek-inspired sandwiches, moussaka and meat dishes for lunch and dinner. Set on the corner of 7th and 4th, this bakery is a great spot to indulge in a quick lunch or quiet coffee. One side of the restaurant serves amazing confectionery, while the other half is a tea room-style cafe.

 

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LEFT: The Summer Seed Scrambled at The Whippet Coffee. RIGHT: The Egg Basket at Nice on 4th.

Urban Angel Café 

Tucked away in a rather unassuming office park is a magical brunch spot that goes by the name of Urban Angel Café. Here, you’re spoilt for choice with a number of tantalising brunch options on the menu, including their Cauliflower Rosti, Eggs Benedict, Buttermilk Flapjacks served with raw honey and freshly baked banana bread served with mascarpone cream cheese icing. If you’re a juicing junkie, you’ll also be glad to know that their raw juices, as well as smoothies, are just as enjoyable as everything else. They offer up everything from an alkalising green juice to a classic beet juice. As far as the smoothies are concerned, the Raw Chocolate Smoothie is love at first sip.

Where: Boskruin Office Park, corner President Fouche Drive & Hawken Road, Boskruin, Johannesburg.

Nice on 4th

While the cutesy little spot that is Nice on 4th has lunch and dinner menus that are sure to wow you, what they’re best known for are their signature baskets, which make for the most delightful brunch. The most popular by far is the Egg Basket, which features two baskets made out of toast, which is then filled with poached eggs and crispy bacon and topped with a spicy tomato relish. Feel like really treating yourself? Then you may want to opt for the Salmon Basket instead which is the perfect combination of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, cream cheese, relish and chives – best enjoyed with a freshly squeezed watermelon juice.

Where: 37 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, Johannesburg.

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LEFT: The Crème Brulee Latte at The Whippet Coffee. RIGHT: The Bacon Eggs Benedict also at The Whippet Coffee.

Belle's Patisserie

An award-winning spot, Belle's Patisserie is a stylish little patisserie that’s just fabulous for enjoying brunch with the girls or that someone special. Their mouthwatering menu consists of some seriously indulgent brunch offerings, from an Open Salmon Omelette to their signature Bellisima Flapjack Stack. If you’re Banting, you’ll be relieved to know that they also offer options catering to your diet, such as their Crustless Quiche and Cauliflower Wrap. Pair your meal of choice with a cup of their delicious coffee, and you’re all set for a very memorable brunch! Oh, and don’t forget to end your meal off on a sweet note with one of their Skinny Red Velvet Cupcakes – they’re simply to-die-for.

Where: Shop 16, BluBird Shopping Centre, corner of Atholl-Oaklands Road & Fort Street, Birnam, Johannesburg.

Gia's on Montrose

Situated on the stunning Montrose Nursery property, Gia’s On Montrose is a lovely al fresco spot that’s perfect for indulging in a leisurely lunch. And the best part? It’s just outside the buzzing Sandton CBD. On the menu, you’ll find a number of creative options to pick from, including the Deluxe Breakfast Croissant, which is filled with an egg, bacon, rocket, mushrooms, tomato, Parmesan shavings and a balsamic reduction, as well as the Danny De Vito Breakfast, which consists of one egg, beef or pork sausage, grilled rosemary, mushrooms, tomato and a slice of toast. Plus, their Fresh Fruit Shakes make the perfect accompaniment to any of their tasty dishes.

Where: 66B South Road, Morningside, Johannesburg.

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LEFT: The Cheese & Tomato Tramezzini at Gia's On Montrose. RIGHT: The Buttermilk Crumpets at The Fat Zebra.

The Fat Zebra

Another brunch hotspot that’s located in the up-and-coming vicinity of Linden is the sexy café known by the name of The Fat Zebra. At this stylish spot, you can treat yourself to their Buttermilk Crumpets stacked with crispy bacon, crème fraîche, seasonal berries, toasted almonds and syrup, which just so happen to be some of the very best crumpets in town. If something savoury is more up your alley, we recommend The Full Monty, or the Eggs 'Ben-Addicted'. The Fat Zebra is also an ideal spot to hit up after a big night out, especially with their hangover breakfast offering known as The Babalaas, which is their take on a toasted sarmie, filled with bacon or macon and egg, topped with ham, cheese and grated Parmesan, with crisps and a shot of cream soda on the side.

Where: 71 7th Street, Linden, Johannesburg.

The Secret Tea Garden 

Another scenic outdoor option, The Secret Tea Garden boasts a gorgeous garden setting as well as some delectable brunch options to pick from. The menu is simple and straightforward, but at the same time sure to satisfy whatever kind of craving you’re harbouring. Try out their Secret Bite open sandwich, which boasts sweet chilli chicken breast on rye or health toast, topped with lettuce, fried onion, avocado and feta, or their tasty Bacon, Egg & Cheddar Cheese Tramezzini. Just be sure to save space for a slice of their signature Chocolate Chiffon or Bar One cake afterwards – it’s something you won’t want to miss out on. What’s a brunch without a sweet ending anyway, right?

Where: Norscot Manor Recreation Centre, 16B Penguin Drive, Fourways, Johannesburg.

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LEFT: The Michelle's Treat Open Sandwich at The Secret Tea Garden. RIGHT: The English Elegance Breakfast at La Vie En Rose.

Salvation Café

Serving up the very best sweet, savoury and healthy breakfasts, Salvation Café is a morning heaven of note. Their extensive menu offers visitors a whole host of different morning entrées, such as a Breakfast Burrito filled with organic sausage, scrambled eggs, spring onion, jalapeno, sour cream, cheese, tomato salsa, guacamole and fresh coriander, or a Garden Wrap stuffed with carrot, beans, cucumber, halloumi, sundried tomato pesto, olives and avocado. If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to try out their fantastic French Toast topped with fresh fruit instead. The best day to pay this beautiful courtyard spot a visit has got to be a Saturday when 44 Stanley is at its busiest.

Where: 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark, Johannesburg.

La Vie En Rose 

The enthralling garden restaurant that is La Vie En Rose is the perfect place to enjoy the best meal of the day in a lovely, laid-back atmosphere. On their menu, you’ll find some sublime options to choose from, ranging from basics like avocado toast and waffle, to more creative dishes like the English Elegance and the September Morn. If you arrive feeling extra peckish, try their Blushing Beauty Sandwich, which is filled with Norwegian smoked salmon, cream cheese, Spanish onion and avocado, or the Rising Star Wrap, which is a vegetarian-friendly option consisting of crispy Moroccan brinjal and Danish feta, dressed with fresh mint, basil, Spanish onions and tangy lime zest. Then, finish off your meal with a plate of their New York Style Baked Cheesecake or French Macarons.

Where: 60 5th Street (Killarney Country Club), Johannesburg.

By Candice May

Know of other great brunch hotspots not mentioned above? Let us know below!

Remember that our “Top Picks” are not paid for and are compiled at the discretion of the journalist. We only write about what we love.