Coobs, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review Revisited and a New Menu – 20th February 2013

Four days ago the talented team at Coobs released their Autumn 2013 menu.  Excited about sampling the new offerings, we headed there last night with a friend from abroad.

I have already reviewed Coobs in detail, and have now eaten there several times.  Each meal has been excellent, charming staff and the situation of the restaurant is very pleasant indeed.

The new menu boasts some exciting, original dishes and – importantly – retains those old favourites that many have come to expect.

Starters introduce autumnal spices like vanilla and curry, as well as traditional comfort food: melanzane in a tin.  I ordered the pan-fried porcini served on chargrilled ciabatta toast with parmesan shavings and mange tout shoots.  I loved this dish, the mushrooms were meaty and flavoursome, and that perfect chargrilled crunch from the ciabatta was excellent.

Pan-fried porcini served on chargrilled ciabatta toast with parmesan shavings and mange tout shoots

Pan-fried porcini served on chargrilled ciabatta toast with parmesan shavings and mange tout shoots

Another in our party really enjoyed the free-range chicken liver parfait served with homemade fig preserve, a ginger syrup and melba toast.

Free-range chicken liver parfait served with homemade fig preserve, a ginger syrup and melba toast

Free-range chicken liver parfait served with homemade fig preserve, a ginger syrup and melba toast

The pasta dishes and mains on the new menu retain many of the flavours and ingredients which were used previously.  Some of the dishes have been overhauled – more spice, and winter vegetables have been added.  Culinary components have been adapted and there are exciting new choices to be made.  In terms of the old favourites, I was delighted to find that the farm-reared, organic, acorn-fed wild boar ragu (now with parpedelle) is still on the menu.  Pork still features prominently too, as does fish.

For mains, I ordered the pork bolognaise with white wine, red onion and fresh basil, served with millirighe.  I must commend Coobs on the perfectly al dente pasta – they always seem to get it right.  As for the sauce, it was scrumptious, with the red onion adding a crunchy tang I enjoyed very much.  The pork is sourced from the Coobs farm – Brightside, so it really delivers in terms of freshness and flavour.  Another new dish we tried was the acorn-fed pork cutlet, served with quince paste, scented pomme croquettes, apple puree and a brandy butter glaze.  This dish starts to hint at winter, and delivers that comfort-food feeling without being too rich.  The pork was tender and tasty, apple puree was quite fabulous and the dish well balanced.

Acorn-fed pork cutlet, served with quince paste, scented pomme croquettes, apple puree and a brandy butter glaze

Acorn-fed pork cutlet, served with quince paste, scented pomme croquettes, apple puree and a brandy butter glaze

The pudding menu also features some new additions.  Amongst these is a rhubarb tart with honeycomb and homemade vanilla bean ice-cream.  I sampled one of the new puddings, lemon verbena syrup cake with Cointreau ice-cream.  This dish is rather like the Coobs Japanese cheesecake in composition, but replaces it with a denser sponge and stronger flavours.  It was accomplished, and – a little tip – it goes beautifully with the homemade limoncello (not on the menu)!  The others had the churros – excellent as always.

In my opinion, the new menu at Coobs is bound to be a great success.  The subtle interpretations of dishes and use of ingredients as the seasons change are all good signs – evidently, James is a chef who really puts a great deal of thought into what goes onto your plate.  Furthermore, I always feel privileged when eating dishes the origins of which can be so definitively traced.  It is a pleasure to know where ingredients come from, and to know that they have been raised or grown with care.

All-in-all, this new menu is not to be missed.  As the days get shorter, it is sure to delight and excite as much as ever.  Just writing this review makes me feel hungry – and I can’t wait to go back.  Highly recommended.

Prices:  Much the same as previously.

You can contact Coobs on + (27) 082 057 0328

James Diack replied and said:

“Hi Harriet,

Thanks so much coming to try our new menu and thank you for the review.

We are so glad you guys enjoyed it……
Look forward to having you again to try some other things on the menu.Regards,

James”

Coobs, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review – 18th November 2012

“‘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.

Goats cheese and confit tomato tartlet with micro-basil salad

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!

Millerighe with slow-braised wild boar ragu

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.