I’ve been very privileged indeed, in my life, to experience some of Gauteng’s best restaurants, and usually under very fortunate conditions. These places are almost always entirely out of my own personal budget. And so it was with absolute shock and amazement that I accepted an invitation from a friend, who was taking all the girls out for dinner to Cube, as a treat. Phwoar! Can you imagine?!
UPDATE: Cube has since closed its doors. There is a new iteration in the form of Est Est Alea, located in Parktown North
Cube has been on my bucket list for absolute ages. The restaurant has recently moved from their original location to a new, trendy and – dare I say – sexy venue in Maboneng. Since I intended to partake of a decent amount of wine, I took an Uber and was met by a number of very smartly dressed gents at the door. One of these was the security guard. So for those who are hesitant about the CBD, do not worry too much. Parking and safety is not an issue. Though parking is on the street, it is literally in front of the restaurant door and the security will take good care of you.
As most of our party was running late, I sauntered over to one of the kitchens and started investigating everything, greeted with friendly curiousity by head chef Darren and chef Lisa. I was told that I need not worry, I would not be in the way, and could check out the kitchen as far as I liked. In fact, I could even throw on an apron and help get dinner ready. As fun as that sounded, I doubted very much that the other patrons that evening would be very enamoured with my poor attempts at plating. So I left that to the professionals. Gladly!
As the rest of our party finally arrived, we could at last begin the culinary journey. It started with a truffle brioche bun and burnt butter. This was so good, I started eating all my friends’ leftover bits. The butter is beyond delicious and delicately light and creamy. No photo could do it justice.
Our first official course from the 11 course tasting menu was a light duck dish. Spicy satay duck with peanut butter tastes and textures. The texture came in the form of a nut crumble. All paired beautifully with a pan-fried nectarine, coriander and spring onion foam, and strawberries. My photo does not quite capture the dish in its entirety. To me, this dish with the myriad tastes, played together the best of all the dishes, combining and blending in the most agreeable symphony of flavours.
Summer Salad with Spicy Satay Duck, Nut Crumble, Nectarine and Strawberries
Next came what was called “Tribute to our Staples”. This dish focused on corn and had polenta cakes, corn custard, deep fried sweetcorn ice cream, corn snow, and blackened baby corn. Our table was divided about this dish. Some disliked it and others loved it. I personally felt the dish would’ve been perfect without the blackened baby corn (or less thereof), the flavour of which overpowered the rest of the tastes. However, the corn custard and the polenta cakes were incredible. Everyone was in agreement about the ice cream being delicious.
“Tribute to Our Staples”, Flavours of Corn
Next up was my absolutely winner of the evening, the smoked mushroom course. This dish blew my mind and was entirely without equal on any level. The smoked shimeji, shitake and oyster mushrooms’ soft textures and flavours were perfectly complimented by the crunch of the rosemary & gruyere crumble, an absolute triumph. Also on the plate, and essential to the overall taste, a mushroom panacotta, and truffle cream.
Smoked Mushroom course
This was followed by a grapefruit cured salmon course. The hints of grapefruit didn’t come across as much as I would have hoped but the salmon was some of the best I’ve ever had, clearly extremely fresh and of exceptional quality. The saffron mayo on the plate brought all the flavours together in a lovely zesty morsel, with the radish adding just that wonderful extra bite on the tongue. The plate could benefit from just another sliver or two of radish.
Grapefruit Cured Salmon with Saffron Mayo
The following course was what I considered a personal favourite in terms of the plating/presentation. Though this really looked and seemed very much like prawn to me, the menu indicated “lobster section”. I was not at the table when the description was given so I can’t say if it was explained. The dish was accompanied by a poppy seed tuile and this, as a single component of any of the dishes, was one of my favourite elements. The plate also included passion fruit dressing, and an amazing leek and celeriac puree. The only disappointment here was that one of our party received a vegetarian dish instead of the quail dish (non-shellfish) as specified but this seemed to be due to some miscommunication along the line.
That’s when they arrived with a pot of ‘bubbling’ nitro to throw a bit of flare into the evening’s proceedings. I absolutely adore when these amazing establishments do something fabulous and flamboyant and this was a fun moment. I was too busy trying to catch it on video to take note of exactly what was dipped into the pot, but it was some sort of meringue that emerged. This was to be our palate cleanser. You are meant to put the meringue in your mouth and then drink a shot of blood orange juice & gin, which proceeds to melt away the meringue. This was absolutely brilliant and it tasted delicious and every so slightly tart. A brief glimpse of the nitro pot can be seen on my Instagram feed here.
With that entertaining side-track over far too quickly, we headed into the meat dishes. We had a vegetarian at our table, and she seemed to miss out, as she was generally not very impressed with her options, one of which was a boiled egg dish and the other, a plate of various types of butternut and carrots, which she hardly ate.
The same could not be said of the carnivores. Sadly for her, we had exquisite meat dishes. First, the pork belly. For some reason, a pork belly course seems to come up quite frequently on these taster menus as I’ve had it in a number of places. The plating was nothing to write home about, and they could take a leaf out of DW11-13’s book on the plating of this dish. Despite that, Cube’s pork belly was by far the best I have had to date. In terms of taste, it blows the competition out of the water.
Roasted Pork Belly
Our second meat dish was a malay ostrich course. By this time, despite the small servings, we were starting to feel quite full. We had also had a fair amount of wine and water, and I had of course scarfed all the bread, and quite a bit of the butter, earlier. This dish was both lovely in presentation and in flavour, perfectly prepared, and a fantastic dish to have with the bold red wines we were drinking.
Next came my second favourite course of the evening. You guessed it. The cheese course. If I could go back in time, I would have two more plates of this course rather than the desserts. As is well known, I prefer cheese over sweets any day. This was a stunner. Airy, light cheese mousse accompanied by a lovely, crunchy parmesan tuile, with the addition of sweet and tart elements in the form of candied walnuts and stewed fruit. Oh, how I wish I could have another … and another!
This was followed by two dessert courses. Both of these boasted gorgeous plating and colour themes, and they were stunning. What I personally liked here was that these desserts were not as overwhelmingly sweet as I’ve had elsewhere, but somewhat lighter and more focused on flavour rather than just overpowering syrupiness.
Black & White dessert
The black and white dessert was a plate of sesame sponge, olive white chocolate brownie, white chocolate jelly and blackberry delight with a dusting of black powder. The Flower Power dessert, as it is called, tasted to me of rose water and turkish delight, and was described as having elements of rose, hibiscus, fuschia and elderflower.
Overall, Cube lands in my Top 3 dining experiences. It’s exquisite. I personally would have liked the courses to have shorter gaps in between, but I understand intrinsically that this is very much a Jo’burg way of thinking, and that one is meant to leisure for hours over the array of flavours and tastes, and the company of your table.
I feel like there is just one or two polishes needed here and there with the waitstaff as our waiter dropped cutlery a few times upon retrieving empty plates, and was not always there when we looked for him. However, the front of house staff and chefs are all extremely professional and friendly, helpful and accommodating, and very evidently proud to be part of the Cube family.
Cube comes highly recommended and gets the #FanFoodieTastic seal of approval, as well as a #JFWRecommends definite yes.