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”
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Simply Asia, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review – 13th December 2012

Simple yet scrumptious.  And a steal into the bargain.

As the Parkhurst restaurant boom continues booming, Simply Asia ups the number of oriental eateries on 4th Avenue to 3 (Ruby Sushi and Yu Me being the other two).  So, when considering these establishments, one finds oneself wondering how they are going to remain original, and provide variety for the eager eater.  Simply Asia is a chain restaurant (yes, another) which serves exclusively Thai food.  We went for a quick dinner a few weeks after it opened its doors.

Simply Asia is certainly simply decorated.  The interior is quite generic, and there appear to be few original or interesting touches.  The open kitchen – where one can see the Thai chefs at work – is a redeeming feature, but you have to be seated inside to enjoy this experience.  The outer terrace is a great place to eat during summer months.

Simply Asia, like many of the other new restaurants in Parkhurst, is having some regulatory teething problems.  The restaurant is still awaiting its long-anticipated liquor license.  So, for the mean time, remember to bring your own wine or other beverage.  There is no corkage charge.

The menu at Simply Asia is funky and brightly coloured, peppered with interesting facts about Thailand and Thai cuisine.  There is a really wide and interesting range of authentic Thai food on offer.  This includes a vegetarian section.  There is also the option to pick the heat of your dishes, and you may come across some Thai specialties which you have never heard of before.  Having all the food prepared by genuine Thai chefs serves to enhance the authenticity of the food.

For starters, I ordered duck springrolls (Po-Pia Ped) which were served with a sweet chilli sauce.  The fragrant roasted duck filling, scented with a touch of star anise, was delicious.  Unfortunately the pastry casing was thick and undercooked.  It wasn’t golden and crispy, but rather doughy and chewy.  I think I could do better on my stove at home.  My dining companion ordered a Khong Waang Raum Mitr, a 6 piece combo platter consisting of springrolls and some “chewy sweetcorn cakes.”  These springrolls were better than the ones I ordered, and the sweetcorn cakes were exactly as you’d expect them to be given the name….. Chewy.  Happily, the mains were much better than the starters.  I ordered an old favourite, Prawn Pad Thai (Phad Thai Goong).  It was really a treat, deliciously nutty and the prawns were cooked beautifully.  I simply love Asian noodle dishes, and this was comforting, filing and satisfying.  Nothing complex, just what I had expected.  My fellow diner ordered roasted chilli paste and cashew nut noodle with chicken (Ba-Mee Prik-Phao).  It really packed a punch, but was very enjoyable.

The service at Simply Asia was simply ordinary.  Not immaculate or particularly attentive and gracious, but fine nonetheless.  Food arrived quickly and we were given ample time to finish it, but we had to keep asking for things:  chopsticks and soy sauce, for instance.  This may just be a matter of inexperienced waiters, and I’m sure it will improve with practice.  Our waitress was generally pleasant and the service did not detract from the meal.

The great thing about a restaurant like Simply Asia is this:  What you see is what you get, and what you get is what you expect.  The Thai food is tasty, spicy, a feast for the senses.  It is interesting and unfussy.  You could pop in and have two courses within the hour, or you could have a casual yet festive dinner with friends.  Simply Asia offers something for everyone, and it is sure to become a popular local spot for a pleasant, simple and tasty meal.

2 starters and 2 mains cost R 200.00 including tip – this is real value for money!

You can contact Simply Asia Parkhurst on + 27 (0) 11 447 3037.

The review was sent to the restaurant on 24th January 2013.

 

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.

Rocket, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review – 11th November 2012

At the moment 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, is booming with life.  Rocket touched-down a few weeks ago, in that prime spot which played host to “The Attic” for several years.  We decided to try it out for Sunday lunch, hoping for more of a starburst than a damp squib.

Rocket is the second in a restaurant chain, the first being in Rivonia.  It is sharply decorated, simple and light inside, with a large outside terrace.  The pleather chairs and plastic tablecloths are not all that chic, but I suppose they lend themselves to frequent use.  And frequently used they certainly will be, Rocket was nearly full when we arrived, really buzzing with life and happiness on a hot Sunday afternoon.

We ordered some drinks off the short, but interesting, wine list.  Some wine options include Cederberg Bukettraube and Thelema Sutherland Pinot Noir.  There is also a nice selection of champagne and MCC, and an interesting cocktail list.  The selection of Craft Beers is particularly appealing, with the likes of Jack Black Premium Lager, Darling Slow Lager and Mitchells Milk and Honey all served on tap.  It was a sweltering afternoon, so we decided to stick to cool, refreshing beverages.  I had a glass of Villiera Tradition MCC Brut Rosé and we also really enjoyed an icy-cold bottle of Delaire Cabernet Franc Rosé, a popular favorite and with good reason.

The menu is diverse, and rather like an upmarket take on Espressos – which is directly across the road – with a range of café food and a pop of Asian for good measure.  There are some tempting starters like oysters as well as some interesting main dishes.  Expect to come across red and green curries, yummy-sounding burgers, salads, fillets and pastas.  The food focal point is definitely the gourmet pizzas – which sounded too good to pass up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Hungry Goat pizza.  A thin and really flavorsome crust, topped with a delicious tomato base, smothered in mozzarella and topped off with goats milk cheese, chicken, grilled aubergines, sundried tomatoes, rocket (surely a requisite) and rosemary.  I think this combination really is a winner.  The saltiness of the cheese and sweet sundried tomato are a perfect match, and the addition of rosemary added depth and a meatiness to the flavor.  It was absolutely scrumptious.

The Hungry Goat

My fellow diner had the Benefica Pizza, topped with goats milk cheese, fresh, bright-green avo, sundried tomato and chorizo. I was assured that it was as delicious as mine.

The Benefica Pizza

We were both full after the pizzas, so didn’t order desert.  The desert menu features only 5 options, but I’d think that all sweet tooths will find something that they fancy.

Unfortunately, the food rather eclipsed the service.  It all started off well.  We were warmly welcomed by the manager, and luckily snagged a prime table on the terrace.  Our waiter came over with the menus in a timely fashion, but he was rather curt and not very affable in his address and we found this a bit disconcerting.  Our food and drinks arrived in good time, but again there were some rookie errors which threatened the outcome of our mission.  Knives, forks and napkins were only brought to our table after we got our pizzas, the stem of my wine glass was rather sticky and a puddle of MCC – which had been spilt on our table while it was served – was not cleaned up.

Odder still, was the way our waiter seemed to turn into an attentive little comet whilst we were eating.  Naturally, when one is engaged in conversation, eating takes longer.  Occasionally, I would feel a little “tap, tap, tap” on my arm.  Surprised, and interrupted mid-sentence, I would whip around to find “mission control” had come to check whether I had finished my food yet.  This happened 3, maybe 4, times during the meal and it was rather frustrating.  The tapping was a bit unprofessional, and I felt hassled when it came to finishing my food.  My dining companion finished his pizza before me, and his plate was whipped off the table at break-neck speed – he barely had time to put his knife and fork down.  Following this, the service took a nose-dive, to such an extent that we had to ‘self-abort’ the mission – I went inside to seek out our waiter, ask for the bill, and then again to ask him for the card machine.  Of course, Rocket is a new restaurant, and the lacklustre waitering may be due to inexperience and those teething problems which invariably crop up during the first few months – let’s hope management can bring things back into orbit.

Rocket, like most of the other restaurants in Parkhurst, seems popular and is gaining a following.  It is as though the area can sustain ever more eateries – all so ‘in demand’ that they are seldom empty.  Some are worried that the appearance of several chain restaurants will blight the area, moving away from the ideal of small, local businesses.  It is possible that the Parkhurst restaurant bubble may burst, but for the moment it has a lot to offer, with Rocket being a definite must try.  It provides another option for meeting up with friends in a jovial and relaxed atmosphere, to people-watch and enjoy a long afternoon meal or a tasty dinner before you hit the local bars.

1 glass MCC, 1 beer, 1 bottle wine and two pizzas cost R 375.00 including tip.

You can contact Rocket on +27 (0) 11 880 6102 (Rocket Parkhurst telephone number).

Sean from Rocket responded and said:

Dear Harriet,

Firstly, thank-you for allowing a restaurant to respond to a review. It is fantastic that you have created a platform where the review can be interactive.

I appreciate all the comments you have made, both positive and negative. With regards to the food, we take the utmost pride in every meal that we send out. Everything is made fresh every day, with no corner cut on any ingredients, ensuring that our quality is of the highest standard. I am very happy that this was something that you experienced.

I must however say, that good food is nothing without good service. A waiter must have just the right amount of attentiveness. Too much or too little are equally aggravating. I don’t want to use the excuse that the poor standard you experienced can be attributed to teething problems as I feel that if a shop is not ready to open then it should not open. Our waiters are trained for months before they are put on the floor, and their training is continual. The fact that you had a waiter tapping your arm during your meal is mortifying, as is the fact that after your meal his attention went to other tables. I can assure you these issues will be addressed.

Thanks again for the feedback, and I hope to see you at Rocket Parkhurst, Rocket Rivonia, or Rocket Express in Sandton sometime soon!

Kind regards

Sean

Vovo Telo, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review – 18th September 2012

Telo me more…….

In terms of culinary sophistication, South Africa is slowly catching on to those trends which our European friends so delight in.  The shift away from the mass-produced and supermarket is plain to see.  The emergence and popularity of the artisan boulangerie bears testament to this pleasing development.

Vovo Telo is one such “bakery” (using the term rather loosely) combining the offerings of restaurant and traditional boulanger.  The name has always fascinated me – where does it come from and what does it mean?  Vovotelo is the name of a beach hotel in Ifaty, Madagascar.  It was here that the creative South Africans behind the brand were inspired by the fresh baguette sold off the back of a bike.  One review of the Vovotelo Hotel on the internet says it is “terrible, just terrible” – quite the opposite is true of the South African version.

A large group of us met for a chin-wag and quick dinner at Vovo Telo in Parkhurst a few weeks ago.  It is stylish yet so relaxed.  A huge table in the middle of the restaurant, stacked with all sorts of delicious breads and mouth-watering pastries, is the focal point.  Glancing through the space, you catch sight of the frenetic bakery in the background, abuzz with activity.  It’s great to see these guys turning out heaps of delicious freshly baked delights.  There is also an outside section – so inviting in the heat.

The wine list and menu at Vovo Telo are both carefully chosen, and offer a good range.  I love the Black Oystercatcher Rosé – served by the glass and a real steal.  It’s just a little bit better than your average, easy drinking rosé.  In summer I feel that I could happily drink a whole bottle.  A good range of reds, whites and MCCs are also available.  The menu is inspired by baking and fresh produce – most dishes have some baked element.  There is also a fab range of healthy and wholesome salads if you’re off the carbs.

At our table, the most popular order was the delicious pizza.  With super-thin, rectangular bases, they are light and crispy.  Topped with fantastic, fresh melty cheeses, meats, herbs and other offerings – you really can’t go wrong.

One of the fabulous pizzas

In my opinion you also can’t beat a good, homemade pasta.  I had the chicken pesto tagliatellini.  This simple dish plays up its main ingredient – the succulent fresh pasta – beautifully.  Tender, tasty chicken and concentrated basil pesto with a sprinkling of parmesan is really one of my favourites.  I have to temper my praise with my longstanding criticism – that I feel the pasta was a bit overcooked.  Always an oversight, all the more so when it is the freshest, hand-made pasta.  I think that if you order it, you should take care to specify how you would like it done.

Chicken pesto tagliatellini

Another friend had a lamb burger which he found a bit disappointing.  The patty was quite dry, but more worrying for a bakery was the poorly chosen bread.  Rather than a delicious, dense, round, white burger bun, a square focaccia was used.  This produced an unsatisfactorily high bread-to-meat ratio, drying the dish out still further and making it difficult to eat.  Such a pity as the rest of our food was really enjoyable.

I have been to Vovo Telo several times and I have never found the service problematic.  Many friends have had a less gratifying experience.  To me, the waiters always seem friendly and sweet.  Perhaps not completely familiar with the menu, but it really is self-explanatory enough.  You might have to be a bit patient, but that’s fine within reason.  Spend the time enjoying the wine and catching up with friends rather than fretting about the service.

This is hand-crafted food, made with love, requiring of time.  It’s not fast food, it’s not supermarket.  It is fresh and wholesome.  Good for the soul and for the gaiety of the nation.

1 salad, 1 lamb burger, 1 pasta, 3 pizzas, 11 glasses of wine came to just under R 1000.00 including tip.

You can contact Vovo Telo on + 27 (0) 11 447 5939

This review was sent to the restaurant on 9th October 2012

Bottega, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review – 8th September 2012

“Chi va a letto senza cena, tutta la notte si dimena” – Italian proverb.

“He who goes to bed without eating, will regret it throughout the night.”

I love going to bed at night with a tummy full of delicious pasta, it is one of my favourite things.  Bottega, an Italian restaurant in Parkhurst, is the perfect ally in this quest.  I have eaten at Bottega many times, this occasion being a rendezvous after I returned from a recent overseas trip.

Exploring 4th Avenue by night, I have always found Bottega alluring.  So many candles radiate a soft light.  From the outside in, those silhouettes of happy people enjoying a good meal can only appeal to the senses.  The interior is stylish Italian trattoria.  High white ceilings with sophisticated blue up-lighting and chic, framed Peroni posters contrast with the warmer buttercup candlelight.  The overall atmosphere is welcoming and warm.  There is also an enclosed inside-out area, gas burners to keep you snug in winter, and a place to “light up” if one is so inclined.

The night was quite chilly, so we opted for a bottle of Mullineux Family “Kloof Street Rogue” to warm us up.  Kloof Street is the second range from Mullineux Family Wines, and we were really impressed.  Easy drinking but still complex enough, and interesting – this was a great choice to complement the range of dishes we ordered.  Bottega has a fantastic wine list with a good selection of local and international wines and Champagnes.  These are all explained so it makes for interesting reading.    There is also an impressive cocktail menu.

The food menu at Bottega is chalked onto a blackboard.  There are many popular dishes, favourites which keep people coming back.  Some are traditional Italian, others with a fusion twist.  The pasta selection is especially creative, offering some lesser-known and exciting combinations.

I started off with a fancy caprese salad.  It looked quite gorgeous; blush, juicy tomato slices and creamy ellipses of mozzarella.  It was scattered over with capers and basil.  Taste-wise, it was a bit disappointing.  The mozzarella wasn’t really soft and luscious, it was also under-seasoned.  I spiced the caprese up with lots of salt and pepper, as well as generous lashings of balsamic, which really improved it.  Our other starter was a mussel dish.  Small, but perfectly formed, fleshy molluscs served in a slightly curried moules marinière-style soup.  The dish was redolent of Cape Malay cuisine, steaming the delicious spice.  Served with crispy bread, this is a great winter-warmer.  Another fabulous starter at Bottega is the oysters with a piquante onion-vinegar sauce – a summer delight.

For mains we both had pasta.  I really fancy the crab and rocket linguine.  The pasta is always al dente, slathered in delicious tomato-based sauce, with olives and a super generous helping of crabmeat.  The complementary flavours really linger, and flaked almonds pick out a sweet chewiness.  My only real criticism of this pasta is that I found a few small bits of crab shell in the bowl. My fellow diner had Penne Filletto, a hearty plate of tubular penne in a tomato and vodka-based sauce with some perfectly scrumptious fillet.  This is really pleasant Italian comfort food, decadent and moreish.  There are sufficient options on the menu for vegetarians.

We didn’t have pudding this time.  If you are in the mood for a desert, though, one of my Bottega favourites is the glam-chic cupcakes.  These guilty pleasures come in all shapes and sizes, imaginative flavours and a really generous icing which makes them utterly desirable in my opinion.

The service at Bottega is generally good – young, interesting waiters seem enthusiastic about their work and go about it in a pleasant manner.  Sometimes you might have to be a bit patient with the trainees – reminding them to bring your water or refill your wineglass.  Not really a problem in this more relaxed environment where celebrating with friends or enjoying romantic encounters seem the order of the day.

Bottega has become an oh-so-attractive eatery for Johannesburgers.  Good food, fine wine and good company epitomise the Italian way of life.  You’ll be sure to leave feeling full and satisfied, no regrets.

2 starters, 2 mains and 1 bottle of wine came to R 600.00 including tip.

You can contact Bottega on + 27 (0) 11 447 4448

The review was sent to the restaurant for comment on 25th September 2012

Bistro Vine, Parkhurst – Restaurant Review – 17th August 2012

Magnifique!

4th Avenue Parkhurst has become a hotspot for Joburg’s well-heeled, and it boasts some equally trendy restaurants.  Bistro Vine is really stylish and effortlessly attracts an upmarket crowd.  We went for a delightful dinner on Friday night with a group of friends.

The interior is more sophisticated than the name suggests.  Dark wood panels contrast with sharp, white tablecloths and shabby-chic chairs.  The walls are adorned with Francophile intrigues and the reassuringly large, chalk-board wine list.  It was full when we arrived, the vibe relaxed and festive.  This is just the kind of treat one needs to unwind after a busy working week.

We started off with a round of refreshing, cold Kir Royales.  All featured a submerged glacé cherry – which might not be to everyone’s taste.  Appraising the extensive wine list was a highpoint.  There is an interesting choice of South African wine and a good selection of French too.  The manageress was infectiously enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the wines on offer.  This was heartening.  We had a David Sadie White and a Cotes du Rhone red.  Both wines were served in the prescribed manner.

The menu features an interesting range of dishes, not all of which are French.  There are a couple of Asian-inspired starters and a pasta section.  There were five of us, so we ordered quite a variety.

Amongst our favourite starters was the smoked salmon served on a hot, crisp sweet corn fritter with avo, spring onion and wasabi-scented crème fraiche.  The chicken and porcini mushroom phyllo parcels with roasted red pepper sauce and crispy bacon were a treat.  These moist morsels burst with flavour and a host of complimentary textures.  I had the roasted cherry tomato, leek and goats cheese tart.  The pastry was buttery and crisp, adding texture to the deliciously appetizing components of the dish.  The tart was topped off with fresh, creamy goat’s milk cheese and basil pesto.  This combination worked really well, with the piquant zing of the cheese followed by the deep, concentrated tomato taste.

Smoked salmon served on a sweet corn fritter with avo, spring onion and wasabi-scented crème fraiche

As for the mains, we really delighted in the moules frites – a generous portion of fresh, Saldanha Bay mussels in an exquisite white wine, cream and parsley broth.  A primary component of the broth is mussel stock, which adds layer upon layer of rich, gratifying flavour.  The dish was served with crispy, thick-cut French fries (the frites) and tasty, home-made mayonnaise which far surpasses the bottled variety.

Moules frites

One of the specials, 28 day dry-aged rib-eye with Roquefort beurre du Café de Paris was a real pleasure.  Soft, tender, bursting with intense beefiness.  Dry-aged meat is rested in carefully controlled conditions (cool and humid) for a period of time – sometimes several weeks – before cooking.  Simply put, this process acts on the enzymes in the meat, which then break down the meat molecules.  The result is a much deeper, more complex, meaty flavour with enticing savouriness, sweetness and some bitterness.  Dry aged meat used to be a rare delicacy in South Africa, but you can now get it at most good butcheries and steak-houses.  Another in our party ordered the roast pork loin chops, which was served with a lovely apple-based sauce and creamy, thyme-infused potato bake.  My only criticism of this dish is that the meat was slightly tough and dry – probably a little overcooked (though caution is required when it comes to pork).

We had two deserts.  The orange and Amarula crème brûlée was soft and creamy.  It was tasty, but those who love this classic may not be enamoured by the added flavours.  The bitter lemon tart with rooibos syrup and vanilla ice-cream was scrumptious.  Gorgeous pastry with a soft, bitter-sweet filling.  The rooibos accompaniment worked well but the ice cream had tiny ice crystals in it which was a disappointment.

Bitter lemon tart with rooibos syrup and vanilla ice-cream

There is also a selection of ‘verrines’ – small tasting desserts in a glass – great for sweet-tooths with a lesser appetite.  Those who didn’t indulge in dessert made the most of the liqueurs menu, enjoying ports and Armagnacs.

The service was smooth, professional and interested throughout.  One or two hiccups seemed inconsequential, and had no bearing on our thorough enjoyment of the meal.

Bistro Vine boasts the whole package.  Great food, a warm, happy ambiance, fine wine list and good service make this a must for dining in Johannesburg.

5 starters, 5 main courses, 2 desserts, 5 cocktails, 2 bottles wine, 2 beers, 1 Armagnac, 1 port and 2 espressos came to R 2000.00 including tip.

You can contact Bistro Vine on + 27 (0) 11 327 4558

Daniel Vine responded and said:

“Hi Harriet, thanks for your positive comments and feedback.  I will pass it on to the staff to read.  Regards Daniel”