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The closing of Eatery JHB was a devastating blow to many. But this distress became a simmer of excitement when it turned out that the old owners were partnering with one of their managers to bring us Thief Restaurant in its place.
The menu’s ethos is one of simplicity and integrity. The food could be described as the best of bistro: simple ideas executed to perfection, plated with elegance and made with care. If you’re there just to hit the wine bar then there’s a selection of platters and snacks available, including assorted bruschetta and oysters from Lüderitz. There’s also an exceptional smoked trout salad with roasted beetroot and horseradish cream that’s as pretty as a peach and decidedly delicious.
There are only five mains to choose from, but they’re all fantastic. The highlights include their perfectly al dente homemade butternut ravioli with a rich burnt sage butter; the fall-off-the-bone confit duck leg served with braised red cabbage and caramelised apple that’s fantastically French (though a little less apples and a little more cabbage would’ve made it perfect). The win of the evening is the porchetta: a generous slice of slow-cooked rolled pork belly served alongside a simple salad and flatbread.
For dessert it’s a toss-up between the honey panna cotta served with a berry sorbet and toasted nuts, and the crème brûlée. Best to order both for the table to share.
Being a wine bar, the focus is on boutique South African wines. The list is divided into regions rather than cultivars which, whilst this may appeal to serious aficionados, can make the process of finding the right bottle rather time consuming. Make sure to ask Elena (the owner) or one of the waiters for good recommendations – they know their stuff and aren’t the types to push you to order the most expensive on the list. On the beer front there’s nothing on tap, but there’s a wide selection of bottled beers and ciders, including some tasty imports.
Great teamwork in an owner-run restaurant is the formula to success. Elena and her staff constantly work the room to ensure your every need is met and your every wish granted. The waiters are knowledgeable about their large wine selection.
This wine bar-cum-bistro is doubly as spacious as its predecessor, allowing for casual dinners and al fresco dining as well as drinks in and around the bar area. The chic décor is contemporary and minimalist. Thief is all parquet floors, grey walls with exposed brick, brown leather chairs, moody lighting and high ceilings.
Check out their Facebook page to keep up to date with upcoming wine evenings, where you’ll meet the makers and get to try rare gems.