by Matthew Sterne
on December 31, 2010
Chesney Hawke’s lyrics are the first thing that enter my head whenever I walk through the doors at the One&Only. It’s empowering. The Horny Grazy – nobody I’d rather be.
This time I was visiting Reuben’s, which recently replaced Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant. A stalwart of Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands, this is chef Reuben Riffel’s first venture into the big city.
Reuben Riffel, having been Executive Chef at another Franschhoek restaurant, Monneaux, left South Africa to gain experience in Europe. He returned, to open the eponymously named restaurant, in 2003. Reuben’s partners in Francshhoek are Marc Kent and Tim Rands of Boekenhoutskloof so these guys know a thing or two about wine as well.
With high hopes and expectations and an empty stomach I made my way through the remnants of Maze toward my table. The setting is in stark contrast to Reuben’s home base in Franschhoek. In true One&Only style everything is on a grand scale. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
The service was excellent from the start. I was surprised to find the menu similar to the flagship restaurant but with one or two new flavours making an appearance and, as I gave it the once over, I couldn’t help but think, I’m the best man for this job!
Reuben’s is a welcome addition to the One & Only, offering a more relaxed and rustic dining experience in contrast to Nobu. Whether it’s the right restaurant for the space however is a different story. It’s a big, bold, modern space with dubious carpeting. Reuben’s is more homely.
Anyhow, to start I had the Patagonian chilli salted baby squid (R75). Tasty, although it could have been crispier and it culminated in a rather watery pool at the bottom of the bowl.
When the recommended main arrived, I couldn’t help but consider the wise words of health fanatic Gillian McKeith – you are what you eat. I had the pork belly. It was served with chilli and caramel sauce, gingered greens, potato, apple and mustard crème and it was indeed excellent! It was R135 compared with R120 in Franschhoek. We’d asked for a red wine that would compliment the pork belly and the Sommelier suggested a 2008 Muratie Pino Noir. Perfection. And one of the best wines I have had in a while.
Realising that I can’t wear this uniform without some compromises (slightly forced reference there), the Methode cap classique and summer berry jelly added a wonderfully light and refreshing, sweet note to the evening of indulgence.
The evening was certainly enjoyable. Combined with one of the One & Only’s popular drinks specials, you’ll surely not be disappointed, but I do think Reuben’s is far more at home in the Cape Winelands than in the slick V&A Waterfront.
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