With partners like Tim Rands and Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof winery, home of the acclaimed The Chocolate Block red, it’s almost surprising that the famous Reubens is not situated on a wine farm, as is the popular custom. In fact, it is on the Main street, the entrance tucked neatly into an alleyway. One can only assume chef Reuben Riffel being unwilling to share the limelight of his mother kitchen.
The main room is large and airy, with a big hearth warming the room in winter and exposed beams creating a light and comfortable dining space. To one side the room opens up to a courtyard area with tables under large trees, perfect for summer. There is also another smaller, rectangular seating area tucked between the kitchen and the street – smaller spaces between tables and the noise from the kitchen making this the less attractive option (for me).
The decor, in shades of mint green and chocolate is highlighted by red and white leather seating, as well as a pop art type deconstructed soup can art piece. The flagged black and white floor and Reubens engraved wooden tables finish off the modern brasserie look. There is also a small bar area with an original DC10 aeroplane wing serving as bar counter.
The food is good, exceptional at times, but quite pricey. The changing seasonal menu features eclectic flavours with a slight asian influence. Think traditional meets fusion with signature dishes like chilli salted squid, pork belly and warm duck salad standing their ground amongst others like tartare, tom-yum, blue cheese tart, salmon trout and lamb neck curry. Starters range from R35 for melon soup – R85 for crumbed scallops, mains from R89 for butternut ravioli – R215 for aged T-bone steak with desserts from R55 for peaches and cream – R72 for dark chocolate fondant or Valronha kahlua parfait with trusted favourites like creme brulee, panna cotta and white chocolate sundae in between. Browse through their current menu on the Reubens website.
The wine list has great variety, and the range also reflects the abundance available in the surrounding valley. A few options ranging under R150, but most leaning well towards the other side of the price spectrum. There is also a blackboard selection of by the glass options.
I have heard rumours about the quality and service going downhill since Reuben spread his wings to 2 other restaurants (at the One & Only and the Robertson Small Hotel) as well as being involved as a brand ambassad(wh)or(e) to Robertson spices. When we visited, service was friendly and accommodating, if a bit slow, with little hitches like cutlery not being set when the main course arrived. On a more positive note, we were allowed to pop our bottle of Methode Cap Classique, even though bring-your-own is only allowed on weekdays, which this was not.
All in all, I think it’s a must-do, even if only to form your own opinion on the this famous chef and his equally famous restaurant. A good time to visit might be winter, when they run a 4 course special for R185.
Lunch: 12 noon – 3:00pm, Monday to Sunday
Dinner: 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Monday – Sunday
Tel: 021 876 3772
Fax: 021 876 4464
No 19 Huguenot Street,
Spill (Clare Mack): The first thing you notice when you walk in to Reuben’s in Franschhoek is the bar counter top. It’s made from the wing of a DC3 aircraft. The aluminium has been polished to a shine and it really is a thing of beauty. You just want to caress its smooth cold shinyness with you hand. What’s this got to do with Reuben’s food? I dunno, but Reuben put the thing there, along with drawings and plans of the plane, blown up on the wall behind….read more
Rossouws Restaurants (rating: 2 out of 3 stars): A popular stylish-casual bistro in modern tiles, red and white leather, colourful walls and open spaces with a relaxed ambience and lovely courtyard seating for summer’s days. The changing seasonal menu features eclectic flavours that roam the globe, though classics like chilli salt squid and blue cheese tart hold their place on the menu. While modern textures and techniques are on display, the best choices here are the comfort ones where the flavours are bold and direct. Has lost some of its quality edge of late, and prices are now felt, also service can struggle when busy. Good wine list at great prices…read more readers reviews
Eat Out: It’s not often a dessert outshines a main course as the highlight of a meal but the apple tarte tatin, panna cotta and vanilla calvados sorbet are inspired. The tart is light, the apple slices beautifully caramelised and the panna cotta creamy and smooth. Eating the sorbet is like biting into a crisp Pink Lady apple, only nicer! What sells the East Coast sole on the menu is its accompanying naartjie sauce, which is light and delicate but with enough body to stand up to the robust flavour of the roasted fish. The kitchen’s affinity with Asian flavours is on full display in the crisp chilli squid as well as the warm duck salad with miso honey and toasted cashew nuts…read more
Tripadvisor reader reviews: Visited Reuben’s last week for a birthday celebration. All expectations were met and exceeded. How fantastic to not sit on top of each other like at some restaurants. The food, needless to say, was superb. Thank you and will sure be back….read more
Whale Cottage: Reuben’s Franschhoek and our Whale Cottage Franschhoek both opened seven years ago, and I fell in love with Reuben’s when I first stumbled upon it in 2004. It was fresh and different, with a unique menu, the service was outstanding with Maryke Riffel heading front of house, a young French sommelier was charming, and Chef Reuben Riffel cooking and often coming out of the kitchen to chat to his guests. Despite the last visits having been disappointing, we kept supporting his restaurant, well positioned for our guests to walk to in Franschhoek. We have reached the end of our tolerance of poor service and mediocre food at Reuben’s Franschhoek…read more