Nearly a month has passed since eating at Marble and I still can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth.
If you live in Johannesburg, or perhaps know someone who lives in Johannesburg…or someone who knows someone in Johannesburg, then you would have heard about marble. Why? Because they would have told you about it. It’s a lot like CrossFit in that way.
But let me not get ahead of myself. Let me share my experience with you and let you decide for yourself.
I was meeting my friend “Mr Fabiani” for a late lunch after a busy day of meetings in Johannesburg. As you may have heard, the hustle is real, and it was exceptionally real that day as I called the restaurant to move our 2:30 booking to 3pm. To my surprise, they had no booking on file but were happy to accommodate us for 3pm instead. Excellent!
Hoping to snap a few pictures beforehand, I arrived a little early. “Sergio for 3pm please”. To my further surprise, no booking (despite having called it in about an hour before). WTF? Anyway, the restaurant was empty so they gave us the pick of the room. Our fancy bums had just touched our seats before the waiter greeted us with, “the kitchen closes at 4pm so I suggest ordering quickly”. Information that would have been useful when I called in to move my reservation to 3pm.
A quick lunch it is then!
Now, there is no denying that the restaurant is incredibly beautiful – the pictures speak for themselves. Set up high at the bottom of Rosebank it offers some pretty great views over the city and a killer sunset in the afternoons.
The spacious interior is beautifully executed with turquoise and bronze tones throughout. The open kitchen at the back of the room is definitely the focal point, not only because of its massive wood-burning grill but rather because of the Mervyn Gers (A CT based Ceramic Artist) handmade tiles surrounding it.
The bar is also beautiful, carrying with it the same colour scheme as the restaurant, it just looks the part. It begs you to have a drink there. Unfortunately, with our time restraint, we skipped out on pre-drinks. I was lucky enough to have visited the bar a couple of weeks prior for an Old Fashioned tasting and it is definitely one of the best bars in the city. They really know what they’re doing!
In contrast to the drinks, the food is, unfortunately, a little disappointing. In saying that, I have always claimed not to be an expert, I’m not a restaurant critic and I don’t even consider myself a ‘foodie’. I just like what I like.
With our 4pm deadline looming we skipped over starters and headed straight to mains. I decided on the seared Tuna while ‘Mr Fabiani’ manned up to the Sirloin. The food arrived really quickly – though I doubt this is normal, as we were 1 of about 3 tables. My Tuna was perfectly pink in the middle, served with half a head of baby gem lettuce, guacamole, corn salsa, chipotle sauce and a taco. The sauce was great, the rest was good, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I was eating a deconstructed taco salad.
The steak was a generous portion, a little overcooked but generous. The sides for me were a little strange. The steak is served with one (yes, just one) Hasselback potato and a roasted onion (bigger than the potato). In the end, we both agreed that although there was nothing wrong with the food, there was just nothing memorable about it.
With one eye on the dessert menu and the other on the ticking clock, we decided against dessert. Pity, as the Amaretto créme brulee definitely seemed worth a try.
Chef Higgs is a multi-award-winning chef with some great restaurants under his belt, but his vision “..a celebration of quintessential South African fare” just didn’t come through in the menu or the food for me. In the end, it didn’t feel worth the hefty price tag.
To finish off, I do want to remind you that I’m not an expert. I also want to acknowledge that we came at the end of service and that every kitchen has a bad day – It was also my understanding that Chef Higgs wasn’t in the kitchen. So, If you haven’t tried it yet, I suggest you save up : ) then go and see what all the hype is about : )
You can book online here or call them on +27 10 594 5550 – best to confirm your booking before you leave though.
As the day was all about quick meetings and even quicker lunches, I decided to go with a more smart casual vibe. Joburg is also a little more fashion-forward at the moment so I thought my pink pants and tucked in T-shirt may not get me too many strange looks. It didn’t.
If you like my Fabiani look, you can get it all here:
Blazer available here
T shirt available here
Pants available her
Shoes available here
Okay. Bon appetite and stay fancy.