Reuben’s at the One & Only would not have been on my list of places to visit due to our previous experience at Reuben’s in Franschhoek. We went to Franschhoek for lunch and did not want to place an order for starters as my parents had a plane to catch and we were time poor. We were told that we would have to wait for all the diners to have their starters before our main courses would be made! However, when Reuben invited Gregory Czarnecki (which was spelt incorrectly on the menu) from the restaurant at Waterkloof Wines to collaborate with him in a 4 course meal we decided to go and enjoy an evening out.
When approaching the One & Only you would think it was a block of apartments and it is not well sign posted. However, once we found the entrance all was good. We were offered concierge parking but this is not necessary as there is an elevator up to the hotel from the underground parking, as well as golf carts with drivers if you are travelling with luggage. We made our way to the reception and walked down to Reuben’s so that we could be directed to the Vista Lounge. This has no signage either and was open to everyone, and not only people coming for the dinner. Our evening started with a wine tasting of 4 of the Waterkloof Wines. The lady handling the wine tasting was very well informed about the estate. However, she was alone trying to handle the tasting for all the diners, who all arrived at staggering times. We began with the Viognier 2012 which was not very cold. It is a floral light wine and by far our favourite of the whites the estate has. We then moved on to the Circle Of Life White 2011 which is buttery on the palate. Our next tasting was the 2014 Cape Coral. I love this wine but think it would have been better to have tasted the 2013 as this one had only just been bottled. It has a Turkish delight taste and was slightly acidic. We then poured ourselves the Circumstance Syrah 2010 and at this stage the canapés were brought around. The canapés were most welcome as we had been at gym and the hunger pangs were starting to develop. They were average, with a good flavour but sadly the staff did not know what they were bringing around. We were told the fish mouse was blue cheese! The wine is a beautiful drinking wine with a cigar box nose and berry tones on the palate. We chose to have a glass of this with our meal (R90 per glass / R430 per bottle). As you can see from the prices, the wines are pathetically expensive! The same wine at the restaurant at Waterkloof Wines sells for R195 a bottle. And this goes for the entire wine list which by the way does not include one Waterkloof wine. What I found interesting was that the excellent selection of single malt whisky prices were not outrageous.
We all made our way to the dining room which looks like a banquet hall and the starter plate was put in front of us without the velouté. While waiting I ate one of the soft crusted bread rolls. After a short introduction by Aubrey from Dinner with Aubs (who told us to not eat the bits on our plate), Reuben explained that the theme for the evening was French Cape Malay. As both Reuben and Greg favour seasonal ingredients the menu only came together at the last minute due to supplier availability. Reuben said that Greg’s food is beautiful to look at and I totally agree with that statement. While Reuben and Greg were chatting the Jerusalem artichoke velouté was poured out of a large teapot over the nettle marshmallows, brioche and flowers. The warm velouté was poured into a cold dish and I mixed the ingredients together which melded the flavours. The nettle flavour was very distinct but it was the earthy Jerusalem artichoke which had the most lingering flavour. Dave did not blend his dish together which resulted in a completely different taste sensation.
Without much delay, the intermediate course of Cape Malay pickled monkfish, koeksisters, lentil and a meebos salad was served. I thought that the koeksister was divine but Dave and some other diners did not agree with me. The pickled fish was perfect and the meebos quite sticky. The plates were lukewarm which was to be the case for the main course as well. The mains took a long time as we all had to wait for every plate to be cleared from the intermediate, and then every main course plated up before serving started. I think this was a mistake. They should have staggered the serving of each table from the starters to ensure everyone got hot food without too much delay.
Reuben spoke some more while we waited for the roasted loin of venison (springbok), viennoise shank pie with juniper and all spice, beet relish, candied walnuts with bordelaise. As we eat quite often at Waterkloof we could immediately see which elements on the plate were Greg’s. The pastry on the pie was too thick and undercooked but the meat was hot. The roast beetroot was divine with a sharp relish and pickled beets to compliment it. The bordelaise was was thick and sticky. The entire dish was very tasty but I am not a fan of walnuts and so only ate one of them to try it.
Before dessert was served the sommelier spoke about Waterkloof and their wines and asked Greg some questions. These wines are made in the European style working with the natural acidity. Dessert showcased classical flavours and had an intense fruit flavour. On the plate was a pliable citrus lemon curd, citrus confit, coco nib, crumb, grape fruit caramel, citrus segments. It included a warm beignet which was disappointing in both flavour and texture. The 70% Ecuador reminded me that I have two piping bags in my freezer waiting to be used and the passion fruit ice cream was my favourite part of the dish and something I have enjoyed from Greg before. Dave and I ended our meals with an espresso (R25) and a rooibos tea (R20) which was served in a beautiful Japanese tea pot. Greg came around to chat to the diners and we left before it got too late.
The meal cost R345 per head without the wine and if you make a booking for one of the future collaborations you will be expected to pay the entire amount up front to secure your reservation. Upon reservation I was asked if we had any dietary requirements and I emailed back to say I was sucrose intolerant. This was confirmed telephonically the day before the dinner and appeared on the slip. However, no concession was made to this so I cannot see the point in asking. The service was function like and slow from the kitchen side. The wait staff were all well dressed, polite and pleasant during service.
Contact Reuben’s One & Only on +27 21 431 4511
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