South Africa, Cape Town, September 2017: Reuben’s has a well-established reputation for relaxed, contemporary dining, characterised by extraordinary attention to detail and friendly, well-versed service. With South African celebrity chef Reuben Riffel at the helm, the restaurant’s farm-to-fork, modern Cape cuisine has always had a strong local identity, reflecting the city’s exciting, multicultural heritage. The cooking style is robust, generous and thoroughly modern, in keeping with Chef Reuben Riffel’s philosophy of authenticity and honesty on the plate. While Riffel oversees the restaurant and approves the menu, recently appointed resort chef Jason Millar is in charge of the Reuben’s kitchen on a day-to-day basis, ably assisted by head chef Gianluca De Quintal and pastry chef Kyle Hickman. This summer, the team is particularly excited about the delicious tasting plates on the new menu. ‘It’s what diners the world over want right now. It’s sociable, interactive and fun,’ says Millar. With Reuben’s new, small-plate approach to dining, guests are encouraged to order and share several plates before moving onto their main course. It’s also perfect for a tapas-style feast. Dining excellence at Reuben’s typically extends to the impressive collection of South African vintage wines - many of them unusual or lesser-known labels - displayed under optimum conditions in a glass-walled, temperature-controlled wine cellar at the restaurant’s entrance. The menu also introduces guests to many local craft beers and original cocktails.
Millar is passionate about provenance-driven food, and strives to source as many ingredients as possible from ethically minded suppliers who farm sustainably. Only SASSI-endorsed, sustainable seafood, pasture-reared beef and lamb, and free-range eggs are used. The chefs pride themselves on the fact that everything in the Reuben’s kitchen is made from scratch, from the croissants, bacon and jams at breakfast to the sauces and ice-creams. In keeping with Reuben’s reputation for honest, robust flavours and punchy seasoning, the team focuses on creating sublime dishes where a few carefully chosen ingredients shine through. Lamb prepared in three ways is a fine example of what’s on the menu right now. Vegetarians haven’t been overlooked - there are lots of meat-free plates, including the umami-rich journey of cauliflower, which even meat-lovers can’t resist.
Millar is no stranger to One&Only Cape Town - he worked here several years ago - and enjoys the challenge of working in a busy hotel environment and putting his creative stamp on menus that encompass breakfast, lunch, dinner, light meals and Afternoon Tea. Achieving a balance between crowd-pleasing comfort food and more experimental, boundary pushing plates, has always been a challenge in a venue that attracts families, the business community and in-house guests from all over the world.
‘Most importantly, I wanted to bring back precision, care and attention to detail in everything that we do,’ explains Millar. ‘This restaurant is not the place for fine dining. It’s big, it’s bustling, and there is plenty of action for guests to observe in the open kitchen where many of the dishes are prepared and plated.’ The chefs enjoy all the interaction with guests, who often come up to the counter to chat or ask questions. It’s even possible to dine at the counter - an ideal choice for solo travellers and couples. The glassed-in pastry kitchen draws the most spectators, especially children, who can watch their desserts being prepared and imaginatively plated. It has become an extension of the resort’s Kids Only Club where children can get involved at breakfast time, scooping their own toppings for freshly made waffles and pancakes that break the mould - banana bread waffles with Jelly Tot ice-cream or sticky toffee pudding French toast, anyone? The resort also offers guest the opportunity to get hands-on in the kitchen with mastercalsses in cookie and cupcake decorating.
Breakfast at Reuben’s is characterised by abundant choices, from super-healthy options to sheer decadence. It has fast become known as one of the best spreads in Cape Town. Once again, the experience is highly interactive allowing guests to talk to the chefs, and learn and find out about the offerings from the in-house charcuterie display or to cut a chunk of Parmesan from a whole wheel at the cheese station. There are individual bowls of fresh berries and other seasonal fruits from which to choose to accompany mueslis and granolas, yoghurts and freshly baked pastries and breads. There is even a jam sommelier. For Arabic guests, a completely separate Halaal buffet offers a wide choice of Middle Eastern delicacies and fresh flavours.
Whether for lunch or dinner, Reuben’s wood-fired oven still produces excellent, thin-crusted pizzas with simple or more adventurous toppings. Says Millar: ‘One&Only has a reputation for being family friendly, and attracts lots of globetrotting families especially during the summer months. After a day on the beach or sightseeing, sometimes they just want really good pizza or a great burger - we’ve got those both covered.’
For the more adventurous palate, classic dishes are given a modern twist without losing the integrity of the main ingredients. One such example is a summery caprese salad starring textures of tomatoes - made into jellies, rehydrated, confit style, and fresh heirloom varieties - accompanied by local mozzarella and fresh basil. Another favourite in summer is gravadlax, plated with jalapeno dressing, pea puree, pickled mushrooms, horseradish cream, and a touch of mustard. Everything is inventive yet classically inspired, championing seasonal ingredients and local provenance above all.
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