Few chefs in South Africa today have had a career quite as phenomenal as that of Reuben Riffel. This September he launched his own restaurant, Reuben’s, in Franschhoek in the Western Cape. It’s the first time he’s opened an establishment without any business partners, so it’s only fitting that every part of the new space reflects his personality.
The restaurant is bathed in light, thanks to its many large windows, which add to the welcoming atmosphere. In the interior, old-world elements come together with a smart, modern finish and art adorns the exposed walls, while pops of yellow and blue inject even more character into the room.
One thing remains true after all these years: Riffel is a master of his craft. With an innate understanding of taste and textures and how to best combine the two, he’s able to challenge your palate without his dishes venturing too far into obscurity. One by one, plates are carried from the kitchen, and it’s clear that this chef is as focused and refined as ever with his latest offerings.
For those with more daring tastes, the sugar-cured beef tartar proves an excellent choice: its well-balanced flavours and exceptional presentation make it an exquisite twist on the old classic. The mains on the menu – which include a Springbok steak and Char Siu pork belly – are indulgent options that also incorporate fresh, healthy ingredients. And what would a culinary experience be without dessert? We were lucky enough to have two – crème brûlée accompanied by soft, stewed fruit and ice cream, and warm chocolate fondant served with creamy caramel.
Despite Riffel’s incredible success over the past decade and a half, he remains as enthusiastic about food as someone at the start of their culinary career. He greets us warmly after we’ve sampled the new courses, and his excitement is tangible. The opening of his latest restaurant is a long-overdue moment for the local foodie sphere, and we’ll be back for more.
Find Reuben’s at 2 Daniel Hugo Street, just off of Main Road in Franschhoek, and visit reubens.co.za for more details or to make reservations.