Restaurant Of The Week: Free Food*, Johannesburg

Free of wheat, free of sugar, free of gluten, free of preservatives and additives, free of meat, free of lactose… gee whizz, free of fun? This is the thought that weighs down this unapologetic hedonist as she gingerly creeps into Free Food* just up the drag from Melrose Arch.

Inspired by ardent vegan Ariel Cohen, Free Food* is the tongue-in-cheek name bequeathed unto this curious deli that announces its whereabouts using a big green laser-cut bunny. But don’t be fooled, this is not rabbit food.


Courtesy of free food*

I order a mug of Chai; it’s creamy and almost-cloyingly sweet, reminiscent of the chai found on the streets of India, and not something you can drink multiple cups of without agitating your sweet tooth. I decide to choose the most decadent thing on the menu, you know, just to see if this “free-of-everything” promise is worth its mettle. Moist, dark chocolate cake… And, surprisingly, it’s almost spiritual it’s so good, especially for a dark chocolate lover. Crumbly, almost moussey, and with less than two teaspoons of cocoa powder per slice, it’s virtually sin-free. The proof, as they say, is in the pud.

Ariel’s menu changes sporadically, and is a great pit stop for a nutrient-dense, not to mention delicious breakfast (try the Scrambled Tofu Wrap with Fiery Coriander Salsa). They are also renowned for their Chickpea Burger (served on a toasted bun with tahini, red onion and tomato relish and grilled brinjals), and if you don’t fancy cooking tonight, then why not pop in and buy a few of their heat and eat dishes for those midweek meals?

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