The Pop Luck Club’s Joburg pop-up may be over, but Maboneng’s Marabi Club has a brand new pop-up to shout about, run by a heavy-hitting chef.
Vusi Ndlovu, executive chef of The Marabi Club, has worked with the likes of Luke Dale-Roberts and David Higgs, and recently won the Africa and Middle-East regional final for the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 for a dish entitled “Isicupho”.
The regional challenge took place at International Centre for Culinary Arts, in Dubai and featured a distinguished jury of chefs, including Sascha Triemer, Marthinus Ferreira and Dominique Grel representing Dubai, South Africa and Mauritius respectively.
Semi-finalists prepared signature dishes based on their adherence to the competition’s five “Golden Rules”: ingredients, skill, genius, beauty and message.
The menu at Marabi Club takes inspiration from the atmosphere of the forbidden shebeens of yesteryear, for which this part of Johannesburg was once known.
Mussels are cooked in Black Label beer with aged cream and finished with dill oil.
The popular KFQ starter consists of deep-fried quail legs with kimchi slaw, Japanese mayo and chimichuri.
Another of the Ndlovu dishes is a delight of idombolo, traditional steamed bread with a gravy and bone marrow. It tastes like home - much like the grilled cabbage with mussel powder, apples and miso mayo.
If you’re feeling like something more dynamic in flavour and texture, try the deep-fried calamari, shaved and grilled cauliflower, ham, grapes and almond.
For those who haven’t yet experienced it, live-jazz by The Marabi Quartet (a house band that’s been playing there since its inception) and a valet parking service are also part of the package.
The Marabi Club is tucked into the basement of Maboneng’s Hallmark House, an iconic Maboneng building designed by celebrity architect David Adjaye.
Effusive reviews for this place all generally remark on the atmosphere or (that South Africanism) “vibe” of The Marabi Club, a combination of superb food, slick service from jauntily dressed wait staff, interiors that conjure Joburg in an earlier age and a moodily-lit stage on which a jazz band plays.
I can affirm it’s all true.