I wasn’t able to make the media launch of Reuben’s new menu at the One & Only, but I went with a partner the next day and I’m actually glad I experienced it like that rather. The restaurant was very empty when I was there, maybe two or three other tables, and whenever I’ve been in the One & Only since then it I’ve peeked in and it’s always pretty empty. So it seems that Reuben’s at the One & Only is struggling to attract custom. I can tell you that it’s not because there is anything wrong with the food, our meal was excellent and the dessert spectacular.
Perhaps it has more to do with the space. Hotel restaurants are notoriously difficult to fill these days and Maze was certainly never very busy either. I say these days because in the old days, the top restaurants were in hotels and you went there for special occasions. Reuben’s took over from Maze a while ago and not much changed in terms of the menu and the decor. There were certainly some teething problems as the new staff were trained up, but things have settled down now and although the place still looks pretty much the same, Reuben now has his own menu in place.
Reuben’s fans will be pleased to see his most famous dishes on the new menu. Things like the chilli salted squid (R70) starter and the blue cheese tart (R65) starter. I actually chose to start with the wild mushroom soup (R65) with sage, goats cheese and maketaan soldiers. If you don’t know, maketaan is a watermelon and ginger preserve. I didn’t know what it was and if I had I would have been very dubious about having pieces of toast with watermelon and ginger preserve in my mushroom soup! It was amazing. This is what differentiates the top chef’s from the rest. A completely unusual taste, but it worked well with the mushroom soup. My partner had the warm duck confit salad (R75) with orange segments, cinnamon & soy dressing, miso & honey mayonnaise and toasted cashews. It was a great salad based on an unusual selection of very fresh greens.
For mains I opted for the soy braised pork belly (R125) with crackling, chilli & ginger caramel, pommes puree, shitake mushrooms and steamed greens. This dish a special treat for the tastebuds which can’t be rushed. That first forkful of pork with some potato mash and a scoop of the chilli & ginger sauce… you can’t help buy close your eyes and your ears, lean back in your chair and just focus on what’s happening in your mouth. It is a big portion of food, as was the mushroom soup, so by the time I finished mains I was over replete. My partner decided to have the gnocchi with fried porcini (R85) with pumpkin, brown butter, parmesan, sage and pumpkin seeds. She was well impressed and couldn’t stop commenting on how nice it was and how light the gnocchi was didn’t I want to taste it, on and on. I was glad she was enjoying her meal, but just wanted some space to focus on my pork belly!
When they cleared the table (after we had licked our plates), they offered us the option of dessert. I was quick to decline as my survival instinct kicked in, but my partner decided she wanted to try the chocolate peppermint crisp (R65), a dark chocolate mousse milk with chocolate and hazelnut praline and peppermint. She still not talking to me because I ate half of it. Yes, I completely sacrificed my comfort in order to smash half of that dessert because it was so good. It’s the most memorable dessert I’ve had in a very long time. I have a few friends who are dessert mad and I’ve told them to go to Reuben’s and just order that dessert as soon as possible.
In terms of wine, they still have that massive selection in the impressive looking glass cellar. However, I don’t think they are replacing everything that goes out as a couple of the wines I tried to order were no longer available. It can be quite irritating because the wine list is so long that when you find something you want it’s quite a relief, so you don’t want to be told you must choose again. I settled on a Hartenberg Shiraz which did not disappoint. The prices range but it’s certainly not a cheap wine list. The wine glasses are awesome, I think they can hold about half a bottle each. So my strategy was to choose one great bottle of wine and enjoy each sip, rather than trying to drink more than one bottle of cheaper stuff.
That’s about all I can tell you. The coffee was also good and I really liked that you can choose how many cheeses you want on your cheese platter (not that we had a cheese platter). Two cheeses cost R50, 4 cost R90 and 6 cost R135. Most restaurants just offer a cheese platter at a set price and you take what you get. The cheese selection is also really good with interesting and varied cheeses. The service was excellent, but I did mention earlier that the restaurant was quite empty so we had their full attention.
They are also offering a buffet on Sundays at R195 per person. I just read through the list of dishes and it sounds spectacular.
Everything about Reuben’s is quality. The cutlery and crockery, the glassware, the service, the food… the dining experience holds your attention so much you won’t notice that there isn’t anybody else there.
One & Only hotel, V&A Waterfront
Tel: 021 431 5222