This local gem, founded by James Diack, serves an Italian-inspired bistro fare made with fresh, seasonal and fun flavours that are put together in an ingenious way to tantalize the palates of fast and fine diners.
Even though the menu has a classical bistro influence, there are classical cooking methods clearly visible throughout, and it changes regularly depending on the produce available. Portion sizes are generous, allowing for patrons to share and get a taste of many different dishes.
Coobs sources their produce from local suppliers and organic farms, with 75% of their ingredients coming from the Diack family farm, Brightside, in Magaliesburg. That’s a whole lot more than most, and in itself, a great reason to support them because South African restaurants are not big on provenance in an authentic, through-the-line way. Of course, the proof is in the tasting.
Here and there menus make reference to a few farms but they as often slip in the name of the supplier in the qualifier place – as if that’s proof of provenance. Well, it is, but it is like saying they buy their lettuce from Woolies to make you feel like you’re getting close to the origin. It’s not the same as Coob’s philosophy – which entails going all the way back to the farmer.
For starters, I had the beef Carpaccio with crispy capers, radish, pine nuts and a truffle dressing.
One thing that stood out for me is that the plates have a great combination of flavours, colours and textures that are complementary to one another, but more importantly artistic and unique to Diack’s dining style.
A highlight to start is the braised pork-shoulder arancini, with pork-and-lentil ragu, baba ganoush and pomegranate. The flavours of the arancini may change depending on the week, but this dish is always decadent, delicious, heart-warming and filling – big enough for two to share. The Scotch egg is also a fabulous twist on a classic, with a soft centre and a perfectly seasoned duck, saffron puree and edamame bean puree.
The restaurant is known for its confit of Brightside pork belly served with a slow-braised pork shoulder and a truffled potato bake – and for good reason. This dish is simply scrumptious, served with crackling for texture, and a hearty sticky jus. The confit duck leg and duck pie are just as good, and should not be missed. There is also a selection of homemade pasta with creative combinations of sauces as well as traditional compositions available to suit all diners. The star of the pasta show has to be the slow-braised acorn fed wild boar ragu served with hand cut.
The pastry chef at Coobs has put together a selection of sweets as pretty as a picture, so be sure to sample what’s on offer. The passion fruit and pomegranate mille-feuille with caramelized white chocolate ice cream is something to behold. The menu changes regularly, so be bold and experiment with what’s available.
Coobs has an extensive and reasonably priced wine list. I’ve had a glass of wine at Coobs a number of times, and I’ve never had the same wine. They have a great selection of less obvious producers and modern, boutique wines. The staff members are knowledgeable and keen to assist patrons with beverage selections. So don’t be shy to ask for help if you need it. There are non-alcoholic beverages and cocktails available too.
The interior is cosy, and guests receive fabulous attention to detail from the staff. Waitrons are quick and quirky, upbeat and attentive. It’s evident that they are all educated about the regularly changing menu as well as the seasonal produce on offer. You can even book a table at Coobs on Dineplan, which makes the overall experience pleasant from the start.