I had not been to Reuben’s Deli in Franschhoek in years, and I was told that it was closed for some time, but had re-opened in December. I popped in to the newly named Reuben’s to go Deli on the very busy Monday public holiday, and could not believe how inexpensive the prices were, offering exceptional value, and allowing those that did not book for Reuben’s timeously to at least have a taste of what is served at the main Reuben’s restaurant.
The interior has been upgraded, and a modern silver chandelier has central focus. The shelves are covered with Reuben’s branded jams and preserves made by Reuben’s mother-in-law, Willowcreek olive oils, Rozendal lavender vinegar, mustard, chutney, risotto in packets, tins of Italian tomato products, lemon syrup in bottles, and colourful Easter eggs. A refrigerated counter contains cured mozzarella, farm butter, take-away Dalewood Fromage cheese boards, and pre-packaged charcuterie (including coppa, chorizo, prosciutto) from an unmarked supplier in Cape Town, at unbelievably low prices – I bought a pack of coppa for R 15. Bread, muffins, cupcakes, bottled capers, hummus, lemon meringue slices and chocolate tarts are also for sale.
I ordered a Rotisserie petit chicken (R52), and with it a seasonal green salad (R15). I ran out of time to eat the chicken, as it took quite some time to serve it. I had the salad, which included cucumber, green beans, and tomato, which must have been sprinkled with coarse salt, making it extremely salty. The home-made dressing was good though, as was the chicken, which I took back to Cape Town, to have later that evening. Other lunch options are home-made chicken pies, quiche, ‘pulled pork bun’, a local cheese platter served with preserves, a charcuterie platter, and a meze selection, none of these costing more than R55.
Not wanting to miss out on a dessert, and seeing another customer have the Pavlova, I had to have one too. It was a decent sized portion and deli-cious, at the unbelievable price of R15. It was topped with a mix of blueberries, strawberries, pomegranate pips and raspberries, and the surprise decoration was a slice of dragon fruit, which I had read about very recently on Twitter. It has some resemblance to kiwi fruit when sliced, but has pinkish colouring on the outside, and the inside is white with pips. It tasted rather bland, but it did give the Pavlova a special touch. The Manager Martell Smith explained that owner and chef Reuben Riffel had bought the dragon fruit for a shoot, and that the leftovers were used for the Pavlova – in other words, I should not expect it as a regular part of the dish. Other dessert choices are chocolate tart, baked cheesecake, lemon tart and cupcakes, none costing more than R20.
Breakfast is served all day, and includes a health breakfast, scones with jam and cream, muffins or croissants with cheese and jam, and Danishes, none of these items costing more than R18. Toasted ‘sarmies’ are also available, on a choice of ciabatta, wholewheat bread or rye, at R20 – R32, and include toppings such as salmon, chicken, camembert and fig jam, and Caprese style.
Martell is the bubbly manager, and previously was in the kitchen at the Mount Nelson and Vineyard Hotels, she told me, after she graduated from the International Hotel School. Jessica is one of my favourite Reuben’s waitresses, and she was serving the Deli customers, always friendly, always with a smile. The Deli draws from the main Reuben’s kitchen for the food and its bar for the coffees. The cappuccino (R17) was a lovely foamy one, and served in a large cup. The seating is in an undercover alleyway, but also in an open section outside the bar, closer to the street. The covered section has a vine trellis growing over it, and is next to a water feature, containing some has-been bridal bouquets, it seems. A vase with a chinchincherie stem decorated the plastic table cloth-covered table. Cutlery was brought to the table rolled in a paper serviette.
Reuben’s offers complimentary wireless internet, and the Reuben’s to go Deli offers a delivery service to businesses on the main road, a first for Franschhoek. One can pop in for take-aways as well, without the sit-down service. Although the menu is completely different to the standard Reuben’s restaurant one, Reuben’s to go Deli is a most affordable first taste of Reuben’s, and what it stands for. It offers the most unbelievably good value, good quality food.
Reuben’s to go Deli, Reuben’s, 19 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-3772. www.reubens.co.za (The Reuben’s to go Deli is not mentioned on the Reuben’s website at all!). Monday – Sunday, “early” – 16h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage