Reuben's Keeps Getting is Right

2009-07-21 15:39
Low or lower prices are a temporary fix (like all the winter specials that are currently running throughout the country). What really keeps people coming back is a sense of value. When you feel that you are really getting what you pay for – or even more – you happily return. Getting more than you pay for in restaurants often boils down to the hospitality factor, that feeling of being “looked after”. Restaurants with an X-factor are also stayers, places where you feel a thrill of excitement: perhaps the space and the people; for me, a sense of good food ahead.

At the same time, restaurants that are open seven days a week are beginning to amaze me. The dedication is immense. Even more so if you are serving three meals a day. And this is elevated to a state near madness when you have an eponymous place, where people will expect that the chef is always in the kitchen. Reuben's has now been cooking three meals times seven for the last six years, and the consistency here is matched by an ever-evolving menu, one which is also aware of the season's change. This reliability is centred around a core of dishes, like the mascarpone blue cheese tart with leaves, and the chilli salt squid – these have become signatures that the kitchen is well on top of – and that the customers will not let him drop. A further boon for regulars and sidewalk flaneurs is the café menu with its well-priced sandwiches and burgers.

My recent lunch also amazed me with its value (and these are not sale prices). The aforementioned blue cheese tart, a generous and richly flavoured plate, was R58 and could be a meal for the light of appetite. But it was my oxtail ravioli with calamari and porcini on a parsnip purée with touches of curry oil that really stood apart, even more for its R89 tag.  This was a beautifully-presented plate, and matched by exquisite textures and earthy flavours. A dessert trio of apple: tarte tatin, sorbet and custard, rounded it all off with a fresh lift.

There's a constant air of expectation coming to eat at Reuben's. Perhaps just to have your old regular dishes, like being re-introduced to old friends, perhaps to find delights that are here one month, gone the next.

Reuben's. Huguenot St, Franschhoek. 021 876 3772
For more on restaurants go to – the independent guide to eating in South Africa. The full Rossouw's Restaurants 2009 guide is available at leading bookstores and deli's, and from the website. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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