Fashion meets flavour at The Shortmarket Club Johannesburg 

There are some restaurants that come and go in the blink of an eye, and others that are seemingly immune to fads. The Shortmarket Club, which has moved to Joburg on a permanent basis, falls into the latter category. The team has managed to pull it off, delivering the same feeling and style as the beloved Cape Town restaurant, but with a glossy upgrade. This opening has turned up the heat – glammed-up crowd and the city’s best cocktails included. 

At first glimpse, it’s easy to see why The Shortmarket Club Johannesburg was such a hit when it first opened its doors inside Oxford Parks in October last year. When you walk in, you can’t help but be impressed by the atmospheric venue. Crimson walls, moody lighting, vintage-style booth seating, a glitzy bar, verdant greenery and white orchids make it an instant hit for le ‘gram. A gold and copper butterfly ceiling installation is a focal point and brings a touch of fantasy to the sultry, speakeasy-style space. Coo factor aside, head chef Taryn Smith – co-owner and chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ guardian culinary pro behind the gastronomic sorcery – arguably plates up the most inventive and aesthetically pleasing food that the City of Gold has to offer. 

World-class ingredients and cutting-edge flavours with a strong Asian game are key to chef Taryn’s winning formula. The à la carte menu is split into starters, mains and desserts – and, naturally, one should order something from each. What to eat? Stick with the famous-for-a-reason signatures. Order the immaculately beer-battered tempura calamari, sheathed in a crisp coating of golden batter with doenjang and sesame relish, pickled red onion and lime Japanese mayo; the pepper-crusted fillet anchored by café au lait sauce and a warm celeriac salad; and the sinful combo of chocolate fondant, French vanilla ice cream, chocolate caramel crunch and berry compote. Do indulge – it’s worth the extra on-trend spin class! Dishes are best washed down with carefully crafted cocktails from the vast and mouthwatering drinks menu. Our tip is to go for the Signature Old Fashioned, the Grapefruit Martini tarted up with lime juice or the Chai Amaretto Sour, a twist on the classic whisky sour using homemade chai tea syrup. 

We also highly recommend the tasting menu, priced at R850 per person with your choice of the ‘homegrown’ wine pairing (R1,520), the ‘journey’ wine pairing (R1,750) or cocktail pairing (R1,350). Made up of all sorts of bejewelling delights that shine a light on the brilliance of Asian cuisine, it’s an experience worthy of your hard-earned bucks. A dose of theatrics form the basis of the grand five-course menu. Wild Namibian oysters, oozing with punchy flavours of piña colada dressing and crispy ginger, are matched to a glass of L’Ormarins Private Cuvée 2014. Irresistible. The introduction of still more impeccable ingredients is used to give the palette a zing of epicurean freshness. Pitch-perfect beef tataki with miso broth, lemongrass oil and smoked tofu purée … crisp-skinned line fish of the day with smoked tomato beurre blanc, sweet potato Pommes Anna, grilled asparagus and rocket crème. The most otherworldly Amarula malva pudding with crème anglaise, brûléed naartjies and cinnamon crumb seals the deal. 

As with Luke’s other restaurants, eating here is like joining in one big dinner party. And the best bit? The crew know how to have fun, too. Aside from the food, the stellar wines and all the gloriously intricate details, you’re also paying for polished service, thumping beats and live jazz performances. The Shortmarket Club Johannesburg is not to be missed for the overall package. It’s pricey and flashy, but oh-so-worthy of a special evening out for a birthday or other celebration. If you can only get a table for two, don’t despair – you and your date won’t be disappointed. 

Oxford Parks, 199 Oxford Road, Rosebank 

010 006 2323 

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