Chef Reuben Riffel’s elegant new venue is grand and lofty yet with a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere so characteristic of the chef patron and his food, which are so loved by all. It exudes the warmth of both he and wife-partner Maryke and the exemplary service is a sure sign of how happy their staff are.

Despite having cut the ribbon the night before everything proceeded without the slightest glitch. Well-known signature dishes like his Beef Cheek and Pork Belly are even better than I remember and new items totally sublime. And although the menu is divided between Tasters, Sharing Plates, Mains and Desserts, my friends and I decided to share the love over every dish as we indulged a good portion of the list. I highly recommend this approach.

Highlights included the ‘Tuna Tataki', sliced raw and served with roasted shiitake and yuzu; ‘Beef Cheek’ with pommes purée, Thai peanut salsa, shiitakes and porcine;

‘Pork Belly’, with cider jus, parsnip, Indian pickle, fynbos honey, sweet potato mille-feuille; and multiple orders of the ‘Sweetcorn’, a yummy mash combining polenta, smoked paprika, belnori goat’s cheese, served with caramelized garlic, and herb roasted tomatoes. I still managed to find room for a few mouthfuls of warm chocolate fondant and stout ice cream — made with stout beer from the Franschhoek Beer Co (FBC), one of Riffel’s other new ventures in the valley. 

While summer is adamant to stick around, if you can grab a table in the courtyard with its mountain views, this is the perfect place to retreat with an accompanying glass of refreshing OPA (orange pale ale) from the FBC. The familiar airplane wing bar from the first Reuben’s on Main Road has been polished up and has also found a new home in the courtyard.   

The offering on Franschhoek's ‘high-street’ has always been a little predictable and too twee for my liking in comparison to its more academic sister Stellenbosch. However, Riffel is back in town and it’s certainly now worth the drive.

Reuben’s, 2 Daniel Hugo Road, Franschhoek. For reservations call +27(0)218763772 or visit reubens.co.za

© Wanted 2016 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.