“Having David Higgs man your braai is a bit like having Michelangelo round to paint your garage”, are Dan Nicholl’s words, which I thought perfectly summarized my thoughts when I first heard of David Higgs’ new venture. After years spent in the fine dining scene at Rust en Vrede, Central One and The Saxon, a steakhouse seemed to be a complete waste of his talents and I was convinced that Mr Higgs had completely lost his marbles.
Despite this, I don’t think there has been more hype surrounding the opening of a restaurant in Joburg than the opening of his restaurant called Marble in Rosebank. We followed the hype and made our reservations early, so early in fact that our first reservation was postponed due to construction delays. After much anticipation we finally got there on the first Friday after opening, all the while questioning how good a steakhouse could possibly be.
This is NOT a steak house!!
It is a tribute to man’s ability to control and manipulate fire. The control of fire is regarded as the turning point in the rise of the human species. After eating at Marble Restaurant I feel like we are on the verge of reaching the next turning point in the rise of Joburg’s foodie scene.
Marble’s website (which is still under construction) states, “Where the tradition of meeting and eating around an open ﬂame is elevated to an art form.” Every course has some element that is licked by the fire and some of what Marble has been able to achieve using an open flame is nothing less than pure artistry.
There were, of course, a few teething issues which can be expected when a restaurant is only 4 days old. Service was on the slow side both at the bar and in the main restaurant, the sirloin on the bone was quite tough; the fillet, which we asked for medium-rare, was overdone and so was the tuna. All things that in my opinion are easily remedied given some time and once the kitchen is fully staffed and operating smoothly.
The underlying quality and potential for this to be a truly amazing restaurant is there for all to see. Small things like bread for the table which was slightly toasted over the fire and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone at our table. Of the starters, the blackened octopus and hot smoked trout come highly recommended. The blackened octopus was succulent and tender which is quite a difficult thing to achieve especially when cooking over an open flame. The best of the mains was the fillet which was amazingly tender and delicious despite being overcooked which is testament to the quality of produce. The lamb cutlets served with a chimichurri paste was really good and we felt that the chimichurri paste could have been put to better use over the sirloin on the bone.
Desserts were incredible and elements of the desserts also got the flame treatment. Everyone at our table had either the strawberry or guava dessert. The strawberry dessert consisted of burnt strawberries, pistachio crème topped with kataiffi (Greek dessert that looks like angel hair pasta) and the guava dessert had aged yeast ice cream with burnt guava marshmallows and a guava salad.
Despite the slow service, it is clear that no stone has been left unturned in ensuring that the customer is at the forefront of everything that Marble does. The restaurant had run out of the wine we asked for and to make up for it the sommelier took us into the wine cellar and did a mini tasting session for us which ended up with us getting a complimentary bottle of wine.
All in all, if a few small teething issues are dealt with and levels of customer service are maintained we may truly be entering into the next stage in the evolution of the Joburg foodie scene.