If you had to create a word cloud for marble, chances are the algorithm pulling together the most frequent associations is likely to spit out phrases like: refined, elegant, luxurious, quality, beauty and expensive. Marble has been around forever and been used in the construction of various epic structures like mosques and churches, not to mention architectural masterpieces like the Taj Mahal or in art work like that of Michelangelo’s David. Over time the stone also became a sought after material for use in our homes. Who doesn’t have memories of their maternal relatives talking about their ideal kitchen, in which marble would feature prominently?
Apply the word marble in the context of a piece of meat, in particular beef, and again words like refined, quality, luxury and expensive come to mind. The amount of fat contained in a cut of meat is referred to as marbling. It's these layers of fat which give the steak its prime grade. Once cooked the fat melts adding to the juiciness and flavour of the meat. Now picture a place that celebrates the two types of marble mentioned above.
With a descriptor that reads, "Meat & Flame Enthusiasts", top of mind would have to be Chef David Higgs' Marble Restaurant in Rosebank. The restaurant is a partnership between the multi awarded Higgs and businessman Gary Kyriacou. Housed in the Trumpet building, an interesting modern build, Marble fits well within its location, where art, design, luxury goods stores and a clutch of trendy bars and restaurants all happily coexist.
Walking into Marble one is struck by the overall attention to detail, from the marble wall & counter tops, to the shiny and eye catching imported wood fired grill. Then there are the striking commissioned artworks that adorn the walls and the stylish furnishings. It’s a visual delight before you even take your seat. Splendid sights aren’t just confined to within the venue. Views from the roof top terrace, especially at sunset, are spectacular. I suggest a fancy cocktail from the array on offer at the bar, while you take in that Highveld glow.
Design and attention to detail are consistent even during service, when your prettily plated meals are served on hand made designer ceramic crockery. Cooking on fire whether it's meat, fish or veggies doesn't come more posh than this!
A small tribe of us gathered at Marble just recently to celebrate a friend's birthday. For starters we opted for the sharing plate called Marble bites which included lamb rolls, kimchi chicken thighs and pork tacos. The tacos were the best by far with a crunchy exterior and succulent, well spiced pork nestled inside. The milk flat bread, hummus, baba ganoush and smoked olive tapenade, was also a tasty choice.
For mains most at the table went for steak and the vegetarian risotto of rocket and spinach with brocollini, parmesan and tempura herbs. These were wolfed down without complaint. I opted for the sirloin, served with hassleback potato, roasted onion, grilled mushroom and horseradish cream. Appearance wise it was food porn deluxe. From a taste perspective, it was smoky, juicy, tender sirloin with abit of a kick from the horseradish, rounded off by a hint of sweetness from the onion that was just starting to caramelise. The hassleback ensured I was in potato heaven - evenly sliced, crisp on the outside, soft and tasty in the centre. This was a satisfying meal.
What's a birthday without a sweet treat or two?
For dessert we opted for the citrus cheesecake (with a burnt orange salad, orange mousse and marmalade), the ice cream sandwich (chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream) and the amaretto crème brulee. All were great. The crème brulee was outstanding: the smokiness of the caramelised crust serving as a subtle reminder that Marble embraces cooking with flames. This was a great counter to the creamy, sweet centre. The almond added crunch while the apple gave some freshness. I wanted to lick my plate but good manners prevailed.
There is a varied selection of wines, spirits and cocktails. Service was good, but tapered off toward the end of the evening which was disappointing.
A visit can make a substantial dent in your wallet. “Overpriced” is not an uncommon critique to hear and while the food is great, with top quality ingredients being used there are alternative places to grab as good a steak at a more affordable price. But considering the ambiance, location and overall experience of spending time in a sophisticated, yet informal restaurant with good food this is certainly among Johannesburg’s go to places especially for a special date or celebration.
Booking is essential.
Meat & Flame Enthusiasts