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What you should know about The Federal in Joburg – Melville’s new kid on the block

Melville is fast becoming Jozi's go-to dining destination.

by: Mamello Sejake | 04 Oct 2016

If there’s one thing that you can depend on Melville for it’s the dependable collection of restaurants, it’s like a meeting ground for great minds who envision unrivalled dining experiences, chefs who were born to breathe life into these ideas and all of which was ordained by the Gods. I find that the variety is colourful and the time spent there, in the right company of course even if it’s your own, is always worth writing home about and now with the opening of The Federal, there’s so much more to write.

The Federal is the new kid on the block. Birthed by Chef James Diack the New York style deli is his third restaurant, he is also the chef patron of Coobs Bistro in Parkhurst and The National in Parktown North.

The mouth of the kitchen opens up to the dining area which I found spellbinding, if you like food the way that I do then seeing all the different ingredients come together is an event on its own. And, I’ll have you know that 90% used in the kitchen at The Federal comes from Brightside Farm in Magaliesburg, Diack’s family farm which is the home where he grew up. Few times has the phrase “home is where the heart is” moved me as much as it did after my meal and a few short minutes of eavesdropping on a conversation of Diack speaking about food – both the farm and the kitchen are homes to him and where his heart resides.

The restaurant itself is homely, very simple yet the attention to detail commands that you take a second look at everything. Positioned up against the backdrop of a brick wall the unclothed wooden tables are guarded by red and white off-centre diner-like chairs and hold white plates, glistening glasses and small vases that hosted what looked like small daisies. The devil is in the detail; there’s just enough of everything and with a long table centred in the loft, overlooking the rest of the restaurant that could probably seat sixteen people, I foresee many memories being made up there.  

Each meal is presented with attention to detail, the rich colours and flavours weren’t lost at any time during the presentation phase. Unfortunately the capacity of my tummy and time wouldn’t permit me to try everything but I don’t see how you could go wrong with the southern fried chicken, the line fish, vegetable stir fry with tofu, the pork belly with polenta or the gourmet hot dog.

The portions are decently portioned so you’ll probably be able to fit in dessert. If you have a sweet tooth, order the Smors pie and the pumpkin pie is also a win, you can thank me later.

I think that the Federal would fit just about any occasion. The family would love you if you took them, you’ll effortlessly woo your lover (with the help of chef Diack of course), clients are sure to instill their faith in you just because you’ve got such good taste in food and most importantly, you’ll walk away with a happy tummy.

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