“‘It is a triumph,’ said Mr. Banks, laying his knife down for a moment. He had eaten attentively. It was rich; it was tender. It was perfectly cooked.” – Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse.
Another Sunday, another opportunity to try one of the new restaurants in Parkhurst. This time we opted for Coobs, located in the new centre towards the end of 4th Avenue.
The interior of Coobs is double-volume, face brick, light and airy with bright prints giving a splash of colour. The fittings, tables and chairs are contemporary and sophisticated yet create a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. The outside area is also fabulous, offering any combination of sunshine and shade one might desire. It was buzzing when we arrived and we were lucky to get a great table on the terrace.
The wine list at Coobs is exciting and changes regularly. Keep your eyes open for the fine European wines imported and distributed by Great Domaines, these are trés elegants and refined. They also have a fantastic list of lesser-known South African wines which are well worth a try.
The menu, simply printed on bond paper and bound between two wooden slats, is relatively short but offers a beautifully balanced array of dishes. Everything was tempting, with well-chosen starters, interesting salads, some mouth-watering pasta, a good assortment of mains and unusual desserts. The idea here is to let the ingredients, which are exquisite, locally sourced and of finest quality, speak for themselves. Owner and chef, James Diack, has a farm in the Magaliesberg from which some of the ingredients are sourced. Most notable is the wild boar which is rarely seen on South African menus and was a joy to behold on this one. It is such a pleasure to know where one’s food is coming from, to be able to trace it to its roots and that Coobs cares about this so deeply.
For starters, two of us ordered the goats cheese and confit tomato tartlet with micro-basil salad. The dish consists of three, crisp sheets of phylo pastry (rather than more conventional short-crust pastry), filled with salty-soft creamy goatsmilk cheese and sweet, punchy cherry tomatoes. It was simple and beautifully presented, with the ingredients taking centre stage. Another in our party had the steamed asparagus served with soft poached egg, black pepper and parmesan shavings. This classic French combination is always a winner, and the asparagus at Coobs was utterly delicious. Vivid-green, just the right amount of crunch, and really flavoursome, with the perfectly soft, yellow poached egg and the salty parmesan, this dish was a hit.
For mains, the boys couldn’t resist millerighe with slow-braised wild boar ragu (think decadent ‘spag bol’) straight from the farm. Millerighe is like an extra-large penne. This dish was out of this world. The boar had been slow-cooked, the meat rich, dark, soft and falling apart. It was wonderfully flavourful, and delicious with the pasta – which was cooked perfectly aldente. I had the linguine with scallops, spring onion, chilli and garlic for my main course. This is an inspired lunch dish. Like the rest of the Coobs food, it was simple and exquisite. Scallops perfectly cooked, their delicate, mild-sweet flavour paired with just the right amount of chilli and spring onion. The linguine was also prepared impeccably. Really, my only criticism is that I would have loved a second helping!
For pudding, the boys shared Churros covered in a cinnamon icing-sugar served with hot-chocolate dipping sauce. Churros, sometimes referred to as “Spanish Doughnuts” are slim, deep fried choux pastry snacks. Coobs churros were piping hot and wonderfully crispy, the pastry light and fluffy inside. The cinnamon sprinkle and chocolate sauce brought the dish together – it was quite scrumptious. I had the Almond crusted Japanese cheesecake with pistachio ice-cream and orange blossom crème. I thought it was a triumph. Not a conventional cheesecake, this version was more like a featherlight, orangey sponge with a subtle almond crisp. The pistachio ice-cream was a superb accompaniment, and different sprinkles added texture to the dish. It was rounded off beautifully with the orange blossom crème.
We were all very impressed by the service at Coobs. The manageress was so graceful and accommodating – nothing was too much trouble. Our comfort was obviously paramount – and we felt really well taken care of. The waiters were pleasant, good humoured and engaging. They also had an extensive knowledge of the menu and the ingredients, an accomplishment for a new restaurant. This kind of service, which has real substance and grace, is something which South Africa sometimes lacks, and I raise a glass to Coobs for pulling it off.
As far as the new set of restaurants in Parkhurst go, Coobs is sure to become one of my favourites. It’s fantastically stylish, yet easy and unassuming. The emphasis on fresh, local produce and environmental sustainability is refreshing. It is a welcome sign of the burgeoning interest in the source of the food we eat, and its journey from pasture to plate.
3 starters, 3 mains, 3 desserts and 2 coffees came to R 620.00 including tip.
You can contact Coobs on + (27) 082 057 0328 (Coobs contact number).
This review was sent to the restaurant on 20th November 2012.