Celebrating at Reuben’s at the One & Only

So last night we had a very special birthday. The number doesn’t matter (they’re getting too big to dwell over these days), but it did mean that we were looking for somewhere spectacular to celebrate. And somewhere we hadn’t been before. So we decided to pay a visit to the One & Only hotel in Cape Town’s Waterfront and try out Reuben’s.

When the One & Only opened in Cape Town it soon became known by locals as the “One & Lonely” because apparently there was never anyone there. Too expensive, too stuffy, too exclusive were the reasons touted. It was time for us to see for ourselves.

The setting is magnificent. And it seems like the hotel has been designed totally with the view in mind. The whole front is glass and looks up at the magnificence that is Table Mountain. Yes it certainly does have an air of opulence about it, nothing wrong with that.

Reuben’s is the brainchild of South African chef Reuben Riffel. It seems that he grew up in a family of seriously good cooks, the sort of family where cooking and eating together is vital – gotta love that. He now has restaurants in Franschhoek, Paternoster and obviously at the One & Only. I have visited his establishment in Franschhoek but it was some years ago and BB (Before Blogging), so I can’t tell you much about it except I’m sure I enjoyed it. Anyway, enough said, let’s move on the our night at Reuben’s in the One & Only.

On arrival we gasped at the stunning Table view as you walk in, looking  across the bar and waterways, it’s unique and awe-inspiring. Reuben’s is down a flight of stairs. We were keen to have a pre-dinner drink and after being welcomed warmly we were led out onto the terrace and served perfect gin and tonics.

Then it was time to move inside and get down to the serious business of ordering. This is one of the hardest menu choices I’ve ever had to make! It’s so comprehensive and wide-ranging. While we were grappling with our decisions we ordered a bottle of wine. The sommelier came back to our table and informed us with regret that the wine we’d ordered was sold out. We chose a second and that too was gone. It’s a particularly busy time in Cape Town at the moment with the big Mining Indaba on and the State of the Nation Address and opening of Parliament happening. Still, not great. Made immediately fine by the offer of two glasses of sparkling wine on the house while we decided on our third wine choice. Can’t say no to free bubbles, can you? And then as it happened, the charming sommelier managed to find a bottle of our first choice, anyway. Happiness all round.

Our waiter assisted with our menu-grappling and highly recommended the Table Toppers (a reference to the aforementioned mountain perhaps?). It says on the menu that they are designed for sharing but he said that they would work equally well as starters. So that’s what we did. Two Table Topper starters coming up.

Keeping with my pork belly summer I ordered the house smoked pork belly with apple and sultana chutney, ham croquette and pork crackling. It was amazing, if rather large – this is more like a main course for me! I loved the combination of textures and the little slivers of apple were a genius touch.

pork

The pork belly Table Topper is a top dish

The birthday boy went for another Table Topper – the lamb bobotie samoosas served with coriander and curd raita and carrot royale. Filled with luscious lamb mince, the pastry was light and delicate and perfectly crunchy. Loved the carrot royale too.

samosas

Delightful samoosas pack with spicy bobotie

Okay, so we do eat out a lot, but that’s not to say we eat a lot – seriously, we really don’t. These were two large starters and we asked if we could take the leftover samoosas home with us (two of them) – they were that good! No problem at all. It was one of those nights that nothing was a problem. Even better, when we were presented with our doggie bag (a logoed One & Only doggie bag…just saying), our waiter told us he’d added extra samoosas as we’d seemed to like them so much. Another full portion of the tasty babies! That’s dinner tonight sorted! I was so impressed with this gesture.

On to the mains. I ordered the corned duck breast which came with wilted baby spinach, leg meat hash and kumquat mayonnaise. A large, flavoursome duck breast topped the rest of the goodies. And right at the bottom, peeking out, was the stunning leg meat hash. I could eat a whole bowl of it on its own. Yummy!

duck

A lovely duck dish to remember

The pan-roasted Karoo lamb rump came with heirloom carrots, rustic caponata and more of that sweetly tasty carrot royale. A real picture on the plate and great flavours, too.

lamb

Tender lamb with the prettiest of vege combinations

We were convinced to order a vegetable dish, well, lets face it we convinced ourselves as the pan-fried green vegetables with feta, chilli and confit garlic sounded too good to resist. A vegetable dish to dream of – and that confit garlic – heavenly.

veges

Overall, this is one of the nicest dining experiences I’ve had in a long time. Despite being in a top-quality, five-star, exclusive hotel there wasn’t a trace of snobbishness or pretention. The service was simply amazing, friendly, helpful and everyone seemed to go the extra yard without any hesitation. You’re getting the best of everything with a totally relaxed vibe. A rare and beautiful combination.

The restaurant is spacious with high ceilings and we had a fabulous table with plenty of room around us. I simply love that, a whole load of personal space to be enjoyed.

g&t

Our pre-dinner G&T’s on the terrace

On top of that it was truly great value. The substantial wine list had a good selection of vino on the reasonable side price-wise, as well as an amazing selection of South Africa’s top end offerings, and the food was well-priced, too.

Thank you One & Only and Reubens for a great celebratory night out. And I hadn’t even mentioned the birthday…can’t imagine anyone could have made any more effort if I had. I’m thinking this may be the first visit of many.

Reuben’s is in the One & Only Hotel along the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town.

A fishy feast at Harbour House

So I’ve headed south to Cape Town for a bit of Southern Hemisphere summer and family time. And of course a chance to sample all the delicious food. Cape Town’s restaurant scene is fabulous, the range of great produce available is mind-blowing from delicious seafood, the freshest of fruit and veg, flavoursome meat and of course a wine industry to keep even the most demanding of wine lovers satisfied. How could I not share all of this with you? Welcome to Cape Town.

First up, an old favourite in the lovely V&A Waterfront. Harbour House has wonderful fish options and my advice to you would be don’t spend too long pondering the menu which is packed with delights, until you have been told the day’s specials. You’re bound to change your mind several times – this is one tough decision-making challenge. One I’m more than happy to take on.

An updated version of a classic, the avocado ritz is a plate of beautiful greens and pinks with plenty of prawns and beautifully creamy avo.

avoritz

A pretty plate in pinks and greens

My tuna tartare was the absolute freshest, beautifully tender chopped tuna with a spicy mayo. A wonderfully light starter for a hot summer’s day.

tuna

A fresh tower of tuna to savour

The tempura prawns comes with an aubergine and avocado tian. A wonderful creamy combination to go with the fishy, crunchy prawns.

prawns

Tempura prawns with creamy avocado and mayo

There are also a selection of meaty dishes on the menu which the restaurant does really well. Their prime beef carpaccio is served with parmesan and parsnip crisps, parsnip puree and mini aragula. A great mix of flavours and textures.

carpaccio

A meatier option to tuck into

Also on the starter menu is this tasty plate of gnocchi garnished with roasted butternut, grilled artichokes, mushrooms, roasted pine nuts and a truffle parmesan sauce.

gnocchi

A perfect portion of gnocchi

Another meaty option is the steak tartare which comes topped with raw quails eggs and a rocket salad on the side. Another beautiful plate of food.

steaktartare

The steak tartare is a great carniverous option

The seafood specials board offers a selection of whatever’s fresh. I couldn’t resist a couple of langoustine simply grilled. Sweet and satisfying.

langos

Sometimes you simply have to treat yourself

I’m always happy to spend a few hours at Harbour House indulging in a seafood extravaganza. And I believe there’s a new one opening up soon. Oh well, I’d better plan to test it out.

Harbour House is at Quay Four, Ground Floor, V&A Waterfront.

A new food market at the Waterfront

So Christmas is over – and already seems a long time ago. Weird how that happens. But it’s still the holiday season and when we visited the Waterfront in Cape Town yesterday it was as busy as I’ve ever seen it. There’s so much going on there and something to please everyone. And now there’s even a brand new food market to visit.

The Market on the Wharf opened on December 5. It’s beautifully done inside with lots of small stalls selling an interesting and amazingly international range of goods. Even things I’d never seen or heard of before, like these chimney cakes.

Transylvanian Hungarian Chimney Cakes - how exotic is that?

Transylvanian Hungarian Chimney Cakes – how exotic is that?

Choose your flavour. I tasted the cinnamon one and it was light and flavoursome

Choose your flavour. I tasted the cinnamon one and it was light and flavoursome

You’ll find cuisines from places like Denmark (hot dogs), Taiwan (dim sums), Germany (sausages and meat), Italy (cheeses and salamis) and Greece. There’s also a Jewish Kosher stall and amazing local produce like biltong, olives, burgers, oysters, fresh juice, coffee and chocolate.

Loads of kosher food to choose from at Berrie's

Loads of kosher food to choose from at Berkie’s

salami

Take your pick from a good range of Italian salamis

A local speciality, the most delicious tasting biltong

A local speciality, the tastiest of biltong from Stokkiesdraai Biltong

There's even a flower stall, who can resist these beautiful proteas?

There’s even a flower stall, who can resist these beautiful proteas?

Tasty gourmet samosas that are freshly made

Tasty gourmet samosas that are freshly made

You can eat there on benches, both inside and outside, but as we’d just had lunch we bought takeaway samosas from the Gourmet Samosa stall and curries (chicken and lamb) from the Durban’s Finest Curry stall for dinner. All curries are made using family recipes passed down through the generations and were tasty with a good chilli hit. Also recommend the samosas, especially the lamb and chickpea ones.

Market on the Wharf really makes food shopping even more fun, and who knows, you might discover something completely different at the same time.

The entrance into the shiny new market. Table Mountain is just on the right

The entrance into the shiny new market. Table Mountain is just on the left

Market on the Wharf is near the aquarium and is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 9.30 to 19.30.