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Review: Reuben Riffel is back on top form at new Franschhoek restaurant

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Celeb chef Reuben Riffel may have several restaurants, but he’s back with new focus at this new location in the beautiful town of Franschhoek. Richard Holmes goes on a culinary discovery to Reuben’s Restaurant and Bar.

The man himself: Reuben Riffel returns to the place where it all started, with this, his new location of the original Reuben's Restaurant. Photo supplied.

The man himself: Reuben Riffel returns to the place where it all started, with this, his new location of the original Reuben’s Restaurant. Photo supplied.

Fast facts

Cost: Average main course is R185
Corkage: R70
Best for: A high-end bistro-style winelands lunch or dinner
Star ratings: Food 5, service 4, ambience 5

Food

A new location brings a new menu for chef Reuben Riffel, but one that does well to blend new dishes with time-honoured classics. Loyal diners will be happy to reacquaint themselves with the signature pork belly with fynbos honey, as well as Reuben’s always-delicious chilli-salted squid with a fragrant salad of dressed Asian greens. Another classic worth a try is the tuna tataki with lime mayonnaise and toasted sesame seeds. If you like tataki, this is about as good as you’ll find anywhere.

The new menu also offers taster plates for sharing, while main courses are a globetrotting lot, jetting from peppered picanha steak to butter chicken curry and excellent Vietnamese pho.


Desserts lean towards classic bistro fare, with oozy baked camembert and bacon jam, chocolate fondant and – the pick of the bunch – a spiced-up crème brûlée with roasted pears and white chocolate soil.

A liquorice toffee from Darling Sweet is a thoughtful touch to finish off the meal.

Drinks

A decent wine offering is divided by cultivar. The focus is, quite rightly, on Franschhoek farms, with selected estates from further afield. There’s also a great selection of local craft gins for summer G&Ts.

Service

Waiters smartly turned out in blue denim and black waistcoats are unfailingly friendly and efficient.

Ambience


The new Reuben’s is a gorgeous space of screeded floors and walls decked with art. Pass the glassed-in wine cellar as you arrive and enter a long restaurant filled with bistro-chic tables and striking blue banquettes. It’s stylish, yet cosy, and there’s a fireplace for chilly Franschhoek nights.

The new space. Photo supplied.

The new space. Photo supplied.

And…

Long-time fans will be pleased to see the silver airplane wing making up the bar counter in the outside courtyard, an idyllic spot for summer evenings.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.

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