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.
Nestled inside Exclusive books in Hyde Park shopping centre, EB Social Kitchen & Bar is a new addition to the dining scene in Johannesburg. The delicious menu created by Russell Armstrong, a chef who has experience in Michelin-starred restaurants, is designed for sharing.
Try the spiced ratatouille and local cheese arancini and the smoked-salmon mousse with lemon and ciabatta wafers to start; then move on to the more substantial dishes like slow-braised duck leg with grilled radicchio, Spanish onion and fondant potatoes. A lot of care has gone into the preparation and presentation of the dishes. The food is served on beautiful black plates, which allows the food to shine.
The extensive wine list, which has been carefully curated by Michael Fridjhon and Carrie Adams, includes local and imported wines and special and rare bottles. The bar offers a wide range of craft beers, ciders and cocktails named after famous works of literature like Vanity Fair and Pride and Prejudice.
The service is on point. Waiters are well versed on the menu and make very good recommendations. The maître d’ is very welcoming, friendly and accommodating.
The space is relaxed and unpretentious, with incredible views of Joburg. The décor is in a simple Nordic style with the industrial beams. The restaurant attracts trendy foodies, families and business people for lunch, but is perfect for a night out with the girls or a romantic dinner for two.
The open kitchen pulls you into the theatre of food preparation and plating. Watching the show is really exciting and adds to the culinary experience.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.