The designer “artisanal” sandwich (whatever that means) is having its moment in the suburbs of the near north: Vovo Telo in Parkhurst, Life in Hyde Park, Tashas in Rosebank and now Warm & Glad in Craighall Park.
Some people never leave Warm & Glad: they are there for breakfast, then linger over a few cups of coffee and, later, lunch.
The last thing owner Jonathan Shaw wanted, he said, was for the place to turn into a “food destination”, but that does not stop him serving up giant sandwiches and salads, cakes and coffee. Their liquor licence is pending.
It looks on to Jan Smuts Avenue from one of those long two-storey buildings that seem to be particular to 1970s Johannesburg. Shaw has elevated eclecticism to an art form – reclaimed wood surfaces, a bicycle screwed to a wall and a deli with Italian gourmet goods.
They also sell new records (vinyl), books and magazines.
There are rows of people hunched over Macs, taking advantage of the 10MB wi-fi. While we were talking, a customer reached over the counter and borrowed an iPod power cord. It is that kind of place.
Shaw loves it when his older customers ask for the “Big Up Yo’Self Salad” (R60) of soft goat’s milk cheese, rocket, lettuce, onion, rosa tomatoes, croutons and toasted pine nuts with a balsamic vinegar glaze.
One of the best things about the place is the bread – bolo do caco – a round flat loaf with a soft, open texture. It is originally from Madeira and is meant to contain potato.
It is refreshing to eat a non–franchised sandwich. One in particular, the Gorgonzola, Parma ham and preserved figs (R55), is very good. There is also a chouriço butty with “brown sauce” and tomato (R50) and one with fillet in olive oil with garlic, chilli, lemon juice and fresh thyme (R65).
A trip to the East inspired a Vietnamese hot beef salad – a chilli beef fillet with lettuce, cabbage, carrots and cashews (R75).
They used to have toast soldiers, but took it off the menu after it proved almost impossible to get the eggs just right.
I loved the Ghana banana – toasted banana bread with slices of fresh banana, maple syrup and cream (R40). There are also pear and almond cupcakes.
A word of warning: the service can sometimes be glacial. I have had to ask three times for a glass of water.
On the name, Shaw said he wanted something that would invoke “the feeling of being happy”. In hindsight, he regrets the Afrikaans translation of “warm and slippery”.
Warm & Glad, Alban’s Square,357 Jan Smuts Avenue