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The Pop Luck Club

The Pop Luck Club
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Cost
R100 avg main meal
Ambience
Contemporary cool
Food
Asian, Contemporary fare
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
No BYO

Critic's review

Kate Liquorish

Food

The original The Pot Luck Club emerged out of Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s love of experimentation and modern fusion cuisine; it was a chance for him and his chefs to try and test new concepts and ideas. The Cape Town menu is made up of 25 sharing plates divided into five taste categories: salty, sour, sweet, umami and bitter, whilst the Johannesburg pop-up menu is a condensed version, offering approximately half of that, in an order that ranges from lightest to richest.

For the most part, each dish showcases complex flavours balanced with sophistication, elegant plating and delicate textural play.

Unfortunately, the first dish of signature fish tacos, promising ceviche, black-bean purée, avocado and sour cream sandwiched between wafer-thin, crisped taco discs, is the exception on the night of my visit. It contains a ceviche drenched in purée, and the tacos are not crisped to perfection, but rather a bit stiff.

The remaining dishes, I’m delighted to say, are on point. The pork belly with Luke’s XO dressing, miso apples and soy-mirin cabbage slaw is a triumph of sweet, sour and salty. Other wonders include the dark beer and doenjang braised short rib that slides off the bone with one stroke of the knife, and the signature smoked beef fillet with a truffle café au lait – a sauce that defines umami – that is simply outstanding. To be honest, the fillet is a mere vessel for the creamy, peppery, smoked and coffee-tinged silk of a sauce, and you’ll find yourself asking for either a spoon or a R25 bread roll to soak up what’s left on your plate.

For dessert you’ll choose between the Pot Luck churros and ‘heaven bacon’, an almond-and-apple tart with burnt peanut butter, popcorn ice cream and maple-glazed bacon.

Whilst the food is delectable, it is very pricey. You’re looking at R400–R500 per person on food alone. Also, calling the dishes ‘sharing plates’ works for two people, but no more than that, as most dishes comprise either two or four morsels.

Drinks

A fanciful selection of cocktails echoes the menu’s eccentricity. Look forward to smoked and spiced Old Fashioneds, Thai green curry martinis, and winter-melon margaritas, to name a few. (There are also some classics intermingled throughout for the traditionalists). The wine menu is boutique and serious for the most part, with a few casual options for those on a budget. Beers, ciders, gins, vodkas and especially whiskeys are abundant and varied.

A valet parking service and doormen to help you out of your Uber at the entrance is such a special touch, and so rare outside of the five-star hotel environment. Waiters are slick, confident and on their toes. The dining experience is explained in detail, with expansion on each dish if you ask.

Ambience

If you’ve been to The Pot Luck Club in Cape Town, the first thing that stands out is the view. (On the top floor of the silo of the Old Biscuit Mill on Albert Road, you’ll marvel at the scenic atmosphere and revel in the theatrics of the open-plan kitchen.) In Johannesburg there’s a very different feel. The pop-up forms part of the Marabi Jazz Club; it’s dark and sultry, but the jazz and accompanying moody blue lighting, whilst being very cool and alluring, detract from the experience of such intricate and delicate cuisine. The music dictates the pace of the experience, making the atmosphere quite charged, which may work against your ability to savour each morsel.

And…

The jazz heats up as the dinner service winds down, so if you’re in the mood for some great music, stay a while longer.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food

User reviews

  • Luke Dale-Roberts' Cape Town hot spot has found a Joburg home in the form of the trendy Marabi Jazz Club in Maboneng. The darker, speak-easy-ish setting with it's cladded walls and purple lighting is a stark contrast to the Cape Town eatery's lighter brighter feel with its expansive windows and views of the city. The menu while relatively small features some Potluck signatures such as fish tacos and fillet with cafe au lait sauce, as well as a few new dishes made just for Joburg. For the most part the dishes are packed with flavour and beautifully presented and best enjoyed with one of their creative cocktails. The wine list is limited for now but seems to be growing week by week - I look forward to the addition of a few more "by-the-glass" options. Finish off your meal with some of the best churros in town and some really great Jazz.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food

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