Exclusive Books first foray into the restaurant scene offers up modern european & mediteranean fare in a beautiful, trendy space.
Tucked away at the back of Exclusive Books expansive Hyde Park store lies EB Social Kitchen, so it’s no surprise that from this world is where they draw their inspiration. Just like a great bookshop full of books, their extensive menu ensures there’s something for everyone. The tapas dishes are equally great paired with drinks at the bar as they for starter selections – it’s advised to order a few to share. Try the halloumi fingers fried in crispy kataifi pastry, delicious when dipped in the accompanying lemon mayo, or the arrancini stuffed with beautiful Tuscan veg and melted mozzarella. Moving through the menu, their Josper becomes the hero with dishes such as boneless chicken and an array of beef cuts cooked to perfection in this Namibian charcoal and food wired oven. Those looking for a less carnivorous offering can opt for a pasta or risotto – the wild mushroom risotto is mouth-watering – packed full with mushrooms and a decadent truffle cream. End off the meal with a slice of their poached peach tart with tarragon ice cream or skip straight to the bar for a nightcap of their signature cocktails.
EB boasts an impressive wine list – curated by local industry greats Michael Fridjhon and Carrie Adams – which features an interesting selection of both local and international wines. Particularly of interest are the “unusual” categories which showcase some seriously great, lesser known wines such as Waterkloof’s Seriously Cool Cinsault and Cederberg’s Bauketraube. Their cocktail menu should not be over looked either with an exciting range of drinks named after famous pieces of literature, the likes of James Joyce’s Ullyses and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
Waitrons are attentive, but not overly so, and knowledgeable with a thorough education of the menu. Service is sleek and professional without feeling pretentious and food arrives hot and timeously.
The restaurant, an eclectic combination of art-deco meets Morocco, creates an upmarket and elegant feel, much in line with the clientele they serve. Views of Joburg forms a backdrop to the space, running perpendicular to the beautiful bar complete with exquisite details and tile work.
After work drinks, date night to impressive or even a bite before a movie.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
It’s not often that all three courses can be classed as standouts but this is the case here. The first course of a plate of duck breast carpaccio arrives as a beautiful study in pink and green. The almost meltingly transparent duck is topped with a walnut dressing and contrasting textures of thin red onion crisps, the tiniest fresh asparagus spears, glowing spring onion, crisp pine nuts and seeds. Its taste is elegant; its aesthetic pleasing in every way. It makes for the perfect summer starter.
The tiger prawn salad is a popular choice, presented with more finesse than usual, with lime leaves, Chinese noodles and sweet wombok cabbage. Another delectable salad features tomato confit, oregano dressing and grilled artichoke.
The main features pork cutlets that are thick and tender as butter, paired with a bewitching green apple soubise. Here again the vegetables are heroes, consisting of sweetly charred heirloom carrots and tender baby cabbage. The balance of everything on the plate seems perfect.
Dessert arrives as a melange on a square of glass. It’s composed of an orange-almond tuille,
a scattering of pumpkin seeds, a fresh litchi sorbet and a rosewater-and-raspberry mousse.
In a word, it’s bliss. Another tempting choice could well be the Valrhona Manjari fondant, served with tonka-bean granola and fresh violet ice cream.
Another good way of eating at EB is perhaps to start with tapas (a local goat-cheese croquette with cucumber-mint jelly and green apple would be very difficult to resist) with one of the fun cocktails at the bar before sitting down to dinner. Probably the finest treat would be to wander through the five- or seven-course degustation menu.
The wine list is not overwhelming and has fascinating features tucked in among favourites. There are some wines available by the glass. By day more coffee is likely sold here than in real coffee shops, but those cocktails are popular as well and have become a destination feature.
From arrival at the bookings desk at the restaurant section entrance, the service is polite and surprisingly swift. The same goes for the cocktail and tapas bar section. Various staff in members are involved in waiting on you, not just the same one all evening. You might even see the head chef delivering plates to tables.
The well-dressed frequent this spot. At dinnertime they vie with the beautifully thought out, almost extravagant décor. Details are engaging and you might find yourself marvelling at something new each time you dine, such as the groups of books in leather book straps around the fireplace. The tables are welcomingly wide and the generous dove-grey linen napkins are a nice touch. The fine glasses, those used for water included, deserve a mention too. The view, by night or day, is special.
This is the ideal spot for happily enjoying dinner for one (and a book).
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.