A sparkling turquoise pool and a sleek teal-and-timber interior can be seen from bustling Katherine Street. This is where Pablo has found its new home after closing Melville’s popular Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar – the elegant Mint Hotel.
Louis Roux, co-creator of the Pablo businesses, says that they were hard hit when lockdown restrictions were announced. “Instantly, within 24 hours after [President] Ramaphosa’s speech, we lost any sort of future earnings.” Pablo House and its restaurant Dos Manos reopened, but Louis needed somewhere new to channel his creative energies.
Preliminary conversations with the hotel had been halted by lockdown, but both parties came together in a collaborative deal that saw Pablo opening in a matter of weeks. Louis says he wanted to be innovative with what a hotel restaurant can be while keeping some of the brand’s previous spark. “We brought some of the amazing cultural positives from Melville into the CBD so that you can walk here, bring your dog and your kids, and bring some culture and neighbourhood energy into the space, but you still fit into the aesthetic of the hotel.”
For the menu, Louis wanted to incorporate some of the Mediterranean flavours from the Dos Manos kitchen and the Eggs-Go-Bar Middle Eastern signature dishes, yet create something new. The end result is a culinary voice that brings the two together, with fusions like peppered beef fillet in a Cubano roasted in the pizza oven, and lime-and-coriander chicken thigh tacos. The pizza oven has delectable offerings such as biltong, halloumi, avo and olives on the Blumberg pizza and slow-roasted pulled lamb and tzatziki on Stavros The Greek. The restaurant also has an extensive beverage menu, including coconut coffee and turmeric lemonade.
The team says the new start has been an amazing journey so far. They were able to re-employ some staff from the Melville restaurant and bring in new team members. Pablo is also experimenting with sourcing produce itself, such as from small unique cheese farms in the country.
On Fridays, the “All Day Rosé” special includes an all-women DJ lineup on the deck, and Vinyl Sundays bookend the weekend. The hotel has an accessible driveway, making the breakfast coffee-and-pastry offering a great plan for those Sandtonites in a rush. They’re also planning various events, including a Christmas and New Year’s Eve party, and are working on a cocktail high tea offering.
Roux is already looking to the future and expansion, possibly with the hotel group: “I don’t think we’ll do the same thing twice in terms of the style of the hotel or the style of cuisine. But at the end of the day, it’s great to just continue evolving our own capabilities.”