I am so sorry. I have failed you, and failed you dismally. I have for a week now tried to locate the mythical Saxonwold Shebeen. And I have failed. I know that many of our eager readers have been standing at the steps of our offices in Rosebank, demanding that Rob Rose, editor of this august journal, come out and address them about the whereabouts of this infamous eatery and whether I have located it and reviewed it. I fear I have been Jacob Zuma at my job — I have failed.
Last week I went looking for the shebeen made famous by the man who nearly became our finance minister, Brian Molefe. You will know by now that our Molefe is the man who, according to the former public protector, Thuli Madonsela, made 44 calls to the capo of the Gupta family, Ajay, at a time when Eskom was doing a deal with one of the family businesses.
After Madonsela revealed that cellphone tracking records indicated that Molefe was at or near the Guptas’ Saxonwold, Johannesburg compound 19 times between August 5 and November 17 2015, Molefe broke down in tears.
"I will not admit or deny that I’ve gone to the shebeen. But there is a shebeen there," sobbed Molefe.
Television and newspaper reporters descended on the area, looking for the shebeen. Former Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi took five of his dogs to the area to try and sniff the shebeen out. No-one could find it. Nothing. Zilch.
So was Molefe lying? It appears to be so. The man has been caught with his paw in the cookie jar and all he could come up with was the lousy excuse of a shebeen. Shame. Madonsela had the best take on it.
"It was a lovely movie moment. He put on a great show," she said.
Anyway, I am tired of the Zuma story. It seems a criminal cartel is operating and the ANC is powerless to stop it. It’s all too much.
There is a new eatery just a stone’s throw from Saxonwold. The Bolton Road Collection has only been going for four weeks, so it certainly cannot be the Saxonwold Shebeen. And it is fantastic. The corner of Bolton and Jan Smuts has always been grotty, with some falling-down cafes and that dreadful sex shop blighting the neighbourhood. It’s been changing slowly over the years, with the art galleries moving in slowly and now, finally, the entire corner getting a make-over. The Collection is one of the bigger establishments that have sprung up — there is also a coffee shop and no doubt others will follow. Plus there is the new, safe parking just behind the restaurant.
For a place that has been open for such a short time it packs them in. It was full when we went for Sunday lunch. The décor is modern industrial, with high ceilings and beautiful furniture. Our waiter, Mdu, was more than excellent — he knew everything about the restaurant, the menu and the wine list.
There were four of us. On the menu are a variety of plates to share, some tapas plates and mains ranging from pork belly to mussels to fish.
For starters we shared the excellent slow roast beef short rib, Indian spiced squid and honey smoked duck breast. The first two were incredible, but the duck was just okay.
Two of us had the roasted sea bass and the other two had the West Coast mussels. Excellent. We were ecstatic. This place is so lovely I am going to aim to go there 19 times and beat Molefe’s record of visits to the Guptas .
**** Bolton Road Collection
Corner Bolton Road and Jan Smuts Avenue
Tel: (011) 327-6104
***** Pravin Gordhan
* Brian Molefe