Dyl and I were recently invited to the relaunch of Voodoo Lily restaurant in leafy Birdhaven. This gorgeous restaurant is boasting a bright new look and a fresh new menu under the well-known ownership of Johannesburg restaurateur Larry Hodes, who owns Arbour Café around the corner from Voodoo Lily, as well as Calexico at 44 Stanley. “Birdhaven is an incredible suburb and Voodoo Lily is up to the challenge of being the ‘go-to’ restaurant for the community, delivering an excellent service for business people, couples, families, and friends,” he says.
The New York-style restaurant with its indoor and outdoor spaces is designed to be the ideal place for amazing meals from morning to night, tea and coffee, after-work drinks, all types of functions, a post-dog-walk snack, or a place to work with a separate corner adapted as ‘workstations’. The restaurant has seating for 160 – 180 outside and 80 inside – and a staff of 20. The staff was really attentive when we were there for the launch. They ensured the outdoor fire pits were always roaring and that our tables were always clear of excess glasses etc.
Dominating the new décor are two stunning mosaics – a magnificent wallpaper mosaic depicting a voodoo lily and created out of thousands of photographs of people, pets, sayings, scenery, food and festivities, and much more, which represents the character and lifestyle of the extended local community, as well as a large mosaic artwork behind the bar.
Ryan du Toit of Dutwaa Creative, who contributed to the development of the revamped Voodoo Lily brand, says, “The brand is about altruistic concern for the welfare of the environment and others, fun-loving and extroverted, whimsical and sociable, health-focused and wholesome, and trendsetting. The restaurant reflects all this, providing the perfect venue for any occasion, from ‘refined first date’ through to ‘nobody feels like cooking tonight’.”
Hodes adds, “We had many requests from the community to incorporate a bar into the restaurant, to retain the community feel and family friendliness, and to continue being dog-friendly. That’s what we’re doing.” Hodes has 30 years of experience in the restaurant business and a sound understanding of the Birdhaven, Melrose Arch, and Illovo community through Arbour Café, which has blossomed since he took ownership of it three years ago.
On the cards in the next few months is a ‘dark kitchen’ on the Voodoo Lily premises, which Hodes says will be established in currently unused space in the basement. Dark kitchens, still a brand-new concept in Johannesburg, service customers on a delivery-only model through on-demand food ordering digital platforms. “The Johannesburg restaurant market is beginning to happen and there is a definite move towards delivery as demand for quick and convenient food options increases.”
Chef Josh Simon has joined the team and has created an exciting, fresh, and mouth-watering menu, offering something for everyone throughout the day. The signature dish on the breakfast menu is Shakshuka, a Mediterranean fragrant tomato sauce, eggs, olives, zaatar yoghurt and challah toast dish that Chef Josh fell in love with some years ago in Israel. The menu incorporates cuisines from a variety of cultures, from New York and Chicago to Mexico, the Middle East, Spain, Italy, and South Africa, with a great range of sweet and savoury, light and hearty meals, and trendy beverages, all fresh, interesting, and totally delicious.
The lunch and dinner menu features winners such as Hot brisket on rye, Loaded latkes, Fresh gnocchi with pulverised broccoli and garlic, which Chef Josh has been perfecting since a friend’s grandmother made it for him in Bologna years ago, and many more. A full dinner menu is in development. The restaurant also features a must-try cocktail menu, a range of beautiful wines and local craft beers, as well as old favourites. To round off the menu for everyone, little people and doggy friends are also accommodated.
Hodes says, “My favourite thing about Voodoo Lily is the location. It has one of the best in Johannesburg – and with the new look, the striking artwork and décor, the cocktail bar and the new menu, I believe it is destined for greatness.”