Very few places in the world can get away with mixing high-end food prices with a boisterous dining room. Achieving this balance is an art of detail and no dining room does it better than The Pot Luck Club. Pared down tables offset with edgy urban details and sumptuous food hits the sweet spot. The towering vantage point of Woodstock and the surrounds doesn’t hurt, either.
After ranking in the Top 10 at the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards, securing a table at The Pot Luck Club went from difficult to near impossible. A brainchild of Luke Dale-Roberts and headed by rising young gun chef Frederico Dias, The Pot Luck Club celebrates all the flavors of the palate. The menu is broken up by flavour profiles: salty, sour, sweet and the all-encompassing umami.
The tapas-style dishes are made to share, with servers suggesting diners order six to eight plates between two people. All you have to do is pencil down your choices and quantity desired, and kick back and relax, leaving it all to the kitchen to decide the order in which they’d love you to experience the flavors. Often it starts with the lighter fish dishes, such as the now-classic Pot Luck Club Fish Taco from the sour section; ceviche with black bean purée, avocado and sour cream; or, my absolute favourite, the fish sliders. A fluffy hake medallion doused in amasi and maize meal comes inside a chewy steamed bun. It may sound basic but it’s sensational. Because this is no ordinary dining experience, dishes such as the beautifully unctuous prawn and king crab stuffed chicken wings with lime green crème fraîche and Sriracha can be found under the sweet section. One taste and you’ll know why.
Be sure to leave some space for a sweet serenade to end off the sumptuous eating extravaganza. After the removal of the popular s’mores from the menu, I was sure nothing would ever live up to it, but the hazelnut-and-apple tart with salted caramel and smoked cinnamon ice-cream is nostalgic nirvana.
Considering its incredible popularity, The Pot Luck Club’s extensive wine list is quite reasonably priced. While the menu caters to all tastes – from ciders to beers – the tipple not to pass up is the Thai Green Curry cocktail.
The waiters are attentive and good at making you feel at home. They know the intricacies of the dishes and their preparation processes, and often are able to easily identify which dishes are suitable and which aren’t in accordance with your dietary requirements.
In a nutshell, The Pot Luck Club is a bustling high-rise city loft-style restaurant with twinkling city and harbour views. Located atop a silo complex in the ever-cool Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, The Pot Luck Club is hip with an aesthetic of trendy New York meets Tokyo exclusive tapas haunt.
It bears mentioning that The Pot Luck Club’s famous Sunday brunch is still a thing. The sensational brunch includes a set menu and Bloody Marys – and if you’re ready to hit the weekend farewell on a good note, opt for the bottomless bubbly option.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
Luke Dale-Roberts and Frederico Dias serve transformative tapas in this buzzing eatery, which came in at number 10 at the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.
Dishes are organised according to flavour: salty, sweet, umami, sour and bitter. The tapas-style dishes are prepared for sharing (two items, such as the fish tacos, are served per portion). Order between six and eight plates between two people – excluding dessert, of course. Write down your selection of dishes on the notepad and the chef will decide on the order of your meal, starting with the lightest and ending with the fullest flavours.
One cannot visit The Pot Luck Club without trying the iconic fish tacos. It’s advisable to eat them by hand. The tacos themselves have superb structural integrity: crispy on the outside with just enough softness. The black-bean purée and avocado add a subtle sweetness to balance the tang of the ceviche and sour cream. Two are served in a portion, and you’ll wish that both were for you.
The other must-try dish is the beef fillet with truffle café au lait. The smoky sauce is undoubtedly the highlight of the dish, and the steak a pleasant, succulent addition. Happily, the chef opts to serve the chickpea, goat’s cheese and parmesan fries alongside the steak dish. On the outside, the fries are crispy and oh-so salty, with a creamy interior. The accompanying tomato sauce is possibly a touch too smoky, but the truffle aioli is perfection. Be sure to keep a few fries aside to properly scoop out what remains of the café au lait sauce. No one’s judging you.
The fish sliders pay tribute to local cuisine: hake medallions are battered and crumbed in amasi and maize meal, and served on a soft, steamed bun. It’s crispy and flaky with just the right hint of sour undertones.
Other options on the extensive menu include the earthy, shredded confit duck leg with a fabulous addition of fresh plums; calamari with yuzu-compressed watermelon and fermented peanut-chilli dressing (the crispy, salty batter is perfection); or the springbok rump with earthy, ash-baked beets and tomato XO dressing.
For a sweet ending, you can’t go wrong with the famed s’mores: roasted, frozen marshmallows with peanut-butter ice cream and cacao nib biscuits. They are a sweet sensation, and with one bite, you’re instantly transported to a happy campfire in your childhood. A close second is the mint-and-chocolate ice-cream sandwiches, which you’ll happily dip into a decadent white chocolate sauce, coffee and crushed hazelnuts. Other dessert options include the hibiscus-poached pear (served with macerated berries, black-olive honeycomb and pear granita) and the almond-and-apple tart with burnt peanut butter, popcorn ice cream, apple gummies and maple-glazed bacon.
It’s worth kicking things off with a renowned cocktail. The wine list is extensive, with a good range of local wines. There is also a good range of craft beers and ciders, as well as the usual suspects.
Staff are friendly and attentive, and service is casual and cool, although a touch too chatty at times. Waiters are incredibly knowledgeable about the menu, right down to the flavour profiles of every wine on the menu.
This is as trendy as it gets. Take a ride up the glass elevator to the sixth floor of the Old Biscuit Mill and watch as the views expand around you. You’ll be forgiven for thinking that you’ve stepped into an uber-stylish loft-style eatery in New York City. The 360-degree views of Cape Town harbour and Table Mountain are breathtaking. The Pot Luck Club is always full, and the crowd is vibey and festive. In spite of the palpable excitement in the air, acoustics are not a problem.
Their Sunday brunch is a thing of beauty. Expect a set menu, which includes the likes of the famed fish tacos, arancini and burnt vanilla churros with dulce de leche. Add bottomless bubbly to your tab for an extra R200 per person.
It’s worth noting that bookings only open on the first of each month (8.30am South African time) for the following month.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.