Voodoo Lily, a cafe with a conscience, serves simple-but-scrumptious food
A cafe with a conscience, Voodoo Lily not only serves simple-but-scrumptious food in an inviting atmosphere, but uses fair trade, locally sourced ingredients, much of which is organic, and promotes sustainability too. Lauren Hills visits the restaurant that Jo’burg foodies have been raving about.
We arrive on a sunny, winter Saturday morning to find Voodoo Lily Café in Melrose North Johannesburg bustling with families, friends and couples. The restaurant is spacious and airy, with lots of light flowing in. The tiled floors, white and wood-coloured tables (made out of reclaimed aluminium and recycled compressed plastic and husks) adorned with fresh lilies gives the restaurant a fresh and homely feel. You could easily while away an afternoon having endless cups of their organic Bean There coffee or sipping on the gorgeous all-natural Intaba Teas of Africa.
The owner of the restaurant, Beth Cameron, has created a concept that embraces sustainability and her ethos is geared towards enriching the community by using fresh, organic products from local suppliers. The vegetables are sourced from within Gauteng, from an initiative based in Soweto called the Food Garden Fund, which is an NGO which teaches unemployed locals to grow their own edible allotments. There is an emphasis on recycling too and the restaurant strives to use reusable, sustainable products wherever possible.
While health and sustainability are a prime focus of the eatery, it doesn’t mean that flavour is at all compromised. If anything, the organic, seasonal ingredients lift the homely dishes to new heights.
The breakfast menu is vast and mouth-watering, with highlights including homemade granola and yoghurt, nutty crumpets topped with clotted cream and berries, as well as poached eggs with spicy tomato and pepper salsa and feta. Even the basic breakfast won’t leave you disappointed as the free-range eggs and streaky bacon with buttery, crusty ciabatta toast are delicious.
There are a large variety of salads and sandwiches to choose from too, which you can enjoy during leisurely weekend lunches or order as a takeaway on busy workdays. Wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, there is no plastic or polystyrene in sight when you take your sandwich away.
For more substantial fare, there is Thai chicken curry and lentil bobotie on the menu, to name just a few dishes, and I am told that one of the best-selling items is the Voodoo Lily Burger. Made with free-range beef, caramelised onions, roasted pepper, rocket, local cheddar and mozzarella cheese, the burger is also topped with head chef, Gareth Lee’s, secret mayonnaise sauce and served with shoestring fries.
Not only a cafe, Voodoo Lily also has a bakery and a deli filled with delicious goodies. You can pick up locally supplied veggies, organic cheeses, rose petal jams, tangy pickles and rich salamis, amongst many other interesting and unusual products. The homemade deli range prepared by the Voodoo Lily chefs includes chilli sauce, homemade Branston pickle, basil pesto, marinated brinjals, as well as scrumptious, ready-made meals that are packaged in 100% biodegradable boxes.
There is a selection of freshly-squeezed juices, great coffee and an extensive selection of teas available and while you can’t purchase wine or beer at the restaurant, you are welcome to bring your own drinks, and corkage is just R1!
A restaurant that gives back to the community and is conscious of waste and health, Voodoo Lily Café is a gem on the Jo’burg dining scene and makes being green very appealing indeed.