Reviewed: The Blockman on Parkhurst’s 4th Avenue

It’s no surprise that Parkhurst’s 4th Avenue is full of modern spots for shaking hands, cutting deals and perhaps even an afternoon glass of prosecco. But leisurely lunch meetings are no longer reserved for investment bankers and high-power business associates. The Blockman, a brand-new chef-driven restaurant helmed by Vassilios ‘Basil’ Holiasmenos, strips away the rigid formalities of dining while focusing on the impeccably cut steaks, warm service and relaxed casual ambience (nonetheless, dress to impress). Prepare to make an afternoon of it, because this is a meal you’ll want to savour. 

Following the return of late-night dining in recent months, Joburg’s second favourite off-hours meal – lunch – is making a triumphant comeback of its own. With indoor and outdoor dining, ‘the secret garden’ and a deli section, The Blockman is the perfect place to take the diner who wants it all … or isn’t sure what they want. Its captivating striped awning on an emblematic corner in Parkhurst fast lures you in. Step through the doors and come face to face with stunning wood paneling, gold touches and all sizes of steaks sizzling on the indoor grill. Now, all you want is to devour your succulent beef. Luckily, this is the tastiest you can find – you’ve come to the mecca. The steak has never been less humble. 

The Holiasmenos family – who also own Kolonaki Greek Kouzina and Modena Italian Eatery – have invented an alternative to the steakhouses appealing to the stereotypical ‘power lunch’ crowd. At The Blockman, they buy the whole carcasses sans the middle men and age it themselves, all while introducing expert chef Basil’s seasonal, globally influenced cuisine and maintaining the roots that the community knows and loves. The spot’s location – the huge premises vacated by Craft – adds the posh vibe and makes it prime real estate to attract Joburg’s fashion crowd. No expense was spared in the design of this extraordinary steakhouse teeming with pretty people. Sit in the buzzy wood- and leather-clad outdoor dining area with irresistible dressed-down appeal, among the plush chairs and flattering lighting. With its crowded atmosphere, you can assure that no one will hear your conversation. 

An extensive cocktail menu features well-balanced, bespoke renditions of classics to help break the ice. Our top pick is the orange-tinged Leather Me Up – a mix of Inverroche Amber, Cointreau, citrus and rose with remarkable depth. However, perhaps one of the best-executed cocktails right now is the Smoke ‘n Bone: Notes of tarragon, tea, plum and chocolate bitters assert themselves aromatically, while bone marrow fat-washed Woodford Reserve adds body and mouthfeel, working with the port and Muscadel to round out the punctuated finish of bitter ingredients. Beyond that, the fantastic sommelier’s wine list is eclectic, with a focus on bold pours, ensuring there’s something for every palate – even the unexpected oenophile. Take his suggestions on what pairs well with the incessantly imaginative cuisine. 

The kitchen gives mighty slabs of beef a serious workout, but there’s something for everyone. Start off with the phenomenal mussels, a crowd favourite served with grilled leeks, pancetta, garlic, ciabatta and white wine butter emulsion – a little dollop of savoury paradise. The charcoal grilled lamb tails with tzatziki, mint and black garlic are a perfect representation of the creative menu that will have you reaching for your iPhone. Then, move onto one of the steak selections that are plated to impress and more than satisfy the meat-hungry. Some of the standouts include a 400g rib eye with mushroom cream, wild mushrooms, bone marrow dauphinoise and fresh truffle; a 300g rump with Madagascan pepper sauce, roasted onion and thyme mash, orange zest, slow-roasted onion, black garlic and spring onion; a 300g fillet with Bordelaise sauce, carrot purée, roasted butternut, sweet potato and bone marrow; a 750g to 800g picanha (a prime sirloin cut); a 1.2kg tomahawk; as well as Jersey beef, Black Angus beef and local wagyu. Premium cuts are butchered and dry-aged on site, seared on the grill for a crisp, brown crust and basted in butter just before serving … perfection. Just in case you were questioning it, you will regret not partaking in their side of deep-fried camembert and fruit preserve.

Chef Basil places a premium on the sensory experience of the palate and consistently delivers one of the best experiences you’ll have anywhere. So, although the steaks with a pleasingly crusty, cast-iron sear are the main event here, just about everything on the menu is worth a try. Choose from chicken thighs, lamb roulade, duck breast, game fillet, miso and honey glazed pork belly or line fish of the day done the chef’s way. The restaurant also features vegetarian dishes such as burrata to whet your appetite for what’s to come plus spiced roasted cauliflower with toasted almonds and lemon aioli, making it a solid spot to impress without overcompensating. For dessert, it’s all about the signature honey and saffron semifreddo – a frozen mousse topped with roasted stone fruit, mixed berry gel and honeycomb. 

Whether you’re trying to impress your soulmate, the serious gastronome in your life or the client who likes dining on perfectly executed versions of steakhouse classics, you can’t go wrong at The Blockman. Not to mention, chef Basil’s restaurants are where you’ll find friendly service, no pretense and more bang for your buck (as compared to some other restaurants on the strip). You’re never out of wine, your plates are whisked away as soon as you’ve taken the last bite and if there is, in fact, something you need, your server will help you quickly and with a smile. Add in a happy, lively atmosphere and a comfortable setting with lavish appeal, and The Blockman can hold its own with the city’s more traditional steakhouses. This has been one of the best-kept secrets in town – until now (sorry). 

33 4th Avenue, Parkhurst 

010 900 3130 

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