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The tagline at this luxury cocktail bar and champagne lounge is ‘uncage yourself’, which is an invitation to indulge in the wilder side of things. Part of the Marble group helmed by chef David Higgs, the theme here is indulgence and having a good time. Dishes are interesting yet accessible and the generous portions allow for abundant sharing. It’s great value for money and delivers a fun experience. For starters, try the likes of oysters with red-wine vinegar, onion and white pepper; or seared Wagyu bavette with a truffle ponzu dressing and herb vinaigrette, which has delicious marbling that imparts rich flavour with the ponzu and truffle bringing rich, umami depth. Calamari fried in bonito butter with crispy tentacles, cucumber and arbol chilli stock brings crispy tentacles and thin strips surrounded by a mildly spicy, slightly tangy broth. For mains, salmon grilled on the Josper charcoal grill with tomato-and-olive salsa, mash and beurre blanc is cooked to perfection with a delicious crispy skin. The sweetness from the tomato and bitterness from the olives is brought together by the rich tanginess of the beurre blanc. Sherry-glazed pork belly, cauliflower, mashed potato, Gorgonzola cream and apple is a generous portion and indulgently rich from the Gorgonzola cream, but the bright bursts of acidity from the apple balance it perfectly. Buttermilk fried chicken with a tangy cream and doughnut is a vetkoek served open, each half topped with tender, moist chicken breast with a tangy, mildly spicy mayo topped with creme fraiche and microgreens – a fun take on an American classic. There aren’t too many vegetarian options, but risotto with porcini mushrooms roasted in the Josper served with Parmesan and crispy leeks hits the spot, as does a salad of chevin, broccolini, fine beans, rocket, pumpkin seeds and crispy kale with a pomegranate vinaigrette. For dessert, try Zioux’s take on churros with pecan purée and tres leches sauce; a chocolate fondant with fire-roasted pineapple sorbet; or, for something lighter, hibiscus jelly with raspberry-and-guava foam, raspberry sorbet and vanilla anglaise.
Cocktails are the name of the game here and have intriguing names such as Snake Eyes (mezcal, fresh lime juice, banana liqueur, coconut syrup and tonka bean spray) and Nitro Pink Panther (Inverroche classic gin, fresh lemon juice, and liquid nitrogen-extracted basil and raspberry). They’re begging to be tasted, so definitely try one. There’s also an extensive wine list, and the sommelier is excellent. Her wine knowledge is phenomenal and she makes a real effort to recommend wines, being flexible in her approach. There are also spirits, beers and soft drinks on offer.
Service is relaxed and friendly, and servers have good knowledge of the menu.
The interiors here are a big part of the experience: expect bold, bright colours, jungle and animal-inspired patterns, irreverent touches and lots of fun. The music adds to the atmosphere, with guests sometimes getting up to dance. This is dining with character.