Friday, January 10th, 2020
Reviewed by Carla SchoemanThe first time we made acquaintance with the chefs at this restaurant was at the Eat Out Steak Out event last year. They were a late entry, and the showstopper in my opinion. Their food was on a different level, and the chefs were hands on and down to earth. Chef Rikku then told us then that their pop up, Synn, was to become a permanent restaurant called Exhibit A, a few weeks later. I have been dying to go ever since this interaction and little taster of what they are capable of. When Exhibit A launched, I was eager to book but the pricing made me take a step back. This had to be saved for a really special occasion. So I coveted the food via their social media platforms instead. An opportunity to showcase some exceptional South African restaurants to two international foodie friends became the perfect reason to finally get ourselves to this restaurant. We went last night. After ascending the many stairs to the top floor of the Villa 47 building, we were transported into a world of sensory overload. The bright green walls, statement ceiling and gorgeous lights awakened our senses and prepared us for what's to come. We opted for the 7 course menu, with wine pairing for 3 of us (one was the designated driver) @ R1200 per person (I think). What followed was a series of mind blowing dishes, with different textures, scents and flavours with much theatre involved - including dry ice and Chef Rikku cracking the golden egg on each plate. I really loved how each dish was finished off at the table, as part of the experience. Consensus was the tomato dish to be the dish of the day, and my partner has started hunting on the internet for the 12 year old balsamic vinegar they used (injecting the quail egg with a syringe!). Every single dish spoke of years of perfecting a craft, and hours of perfecting the prep and careful detail of perfecting the plate. Every dish was... well.. perfect! I was close to tears on a few occasions, while my mind tried to comprehend each dish's complexity and delicious flavours. The service was slick and professional, and Chef Rikku was present on the floor a few times. While the 7 course meal was enough food for me, my partner (a big and tall man) was still a little hungry afterwards. Not ideal at the price tag per person. Also, we found the wine pairing a little underwhelming. Most of the wines worked well with the food, but the caliber of wines used was a little disappointing. I would've liked to see a few interesting wines, not available in the mainstream market to complement the dishes and elevate the experience in line with the baddass-ness of the chefs. In hindsight we should've ordered the 12 course menu, without the wine pairing for the perfect experience. That's definitely what we'll do next time. I have no doubt in my mind that this place (and the chefs) will go on to win big at this year's Eat Out awards (in their debut year) and soon make a few international lists too. No one is doing what they are doing in SA, and they are doing it so well! They have the potential to move the entire SA Culinary industry forward, by raising the bar and challenging other chefs to also think outside the box more and take a few risks. I would love to return to this establishment, every chance I get. At the price tag it wont be as often as I would like but I encourage everyone to go see what they're about. My personal foodie experience bar has been raised because of them. Hats off to Chefs Rikku and Warwick. You are doing something truly exceptional.