Rapper AKA recently unveiled his new EP, but the best part of the launch was the location. eDikeni is a library, gallery and performance space in Sandton, Joburg.
The small chic bar and restaurant has cooling blue hues and minimalistic furniture. It is a soothing sight in this office park as the Sanlam and Bloomberg buildings tower overhead.
As soon as you lay eyes on eDikeni, you’re transfixed.
We enjoy a scrumptious platter with owner Lereko Ntshona, who gives us a tour of the sophisticated establishment that subtly pays homage to his home town of Alice in the Eastern Cape.
He’s also positioned eDikeni as the new home of jazz – a smart move after the closing of The Orbit Jazz Club in Braamfontein two years ago.
Seated on the Mavuso patio, named after a small village near Alice, the dashiki-clad Ntshona says: “It’s not far from Lady Grey; it’s not far from King William’s Town or East London, either. Alice is fondly known as eDikeni in isiXhosa. It means a valley or where water runs through, which is quite fitting because the Tyume River runs through Alice.”
A waiter comes to us from the bar called Ntselamanzi, also named after a small village in Alice, which means “a place of quench”.
Ntshona, a music and commerce graduate, has added a collection of books from the famed and now struggling Lovedale Press.
Umpheki – not chef – Noxolo Tshabangu walks us through the R540 eDikeni signature platter, which has tongue and a tender rib-eye steak dunked in an addictive marinade.
The menu is culturally inspired, but doesn’t ignore the cosmopolitan city it caters to. The mogodu is prepared in a clean and different way, but still tastes familiar.
Tshabangu explains it best: “It’s a taste that takes you home to your ancestors.”
The spinach and chakalaka are done traditionally, but the salsa has a crisp zing to it that tantalises but does not overpower your taste buds.
The mqa has a Sandton spin to it and is rolled into dainty spheres. It’s a slightly more modern take on classic dishes served to us with a disclaimer from umpheki Tshabangu.
The menu boasts a few dishes that are designed to be a sliver of home – comfort food, if you will – which is worth the pricing.
“If you think you’ve eaten before, come try,” she says, grinning.
The drinks include two of eDikeni’s signature cocktails – Somgxada (R95) and the Ntselamanzi (R120) – which allow for fluid conversation. They also have plans to launch their own beer, which you can stand a chance to taste.
eDikeni has given jazz a platform on the Winston stage. The weekdays make this an ideal locale for after-work drinks or a date night.
On weekends, they move the furniture a little and you can get down to the sounds of artists like Sisonke Xonti.
Tshepiso Seleke’s Ugeza Ngobisi photo exhibition, from which you can purchase items, hangs on the walls.
Win a collector’s African literature classic from Lovedale Press and a six-pack of eDikeni lager. What is the town known as eDikeni called?
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