Milhaus Food and Wine Bar reviewed
Milhaus: One of the best steaks in Joburg! I know… a BIG and sweeping statement to make, but I was blown away last night by the quality of the steak my partner and I experienced.
It’s a fairly new establishment set in a small shopping centre just down from Kyalami Race Track. The views are of the parking lot (as with the majority of new restaurants in Joburg), but the design of the space (high ceilings and hand-crafted wood detailing with a mammoth wine rack forming the back wall) distracts from the exterior, creating a lovely, light ambience.
The hand-crafted wooden tables are nicely spaced, each is set with tall-stemmed, thin-lipped wine glasses, lovely cutlery and linen napkins alongside good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The space is relaxed and comfortable, the way that owner Stephan Niehaus intended. His aim was to create a refined wine and dining experience that wasn’t intimidating to customers.
The Food menu is a one-page affair, which I always find refreshing: simple starters (Babotie Spring Rolls, Chicken Livers, Mussels in Cream and White Wine), salads (Roast Butternut, Bocconcini, Chicken, Fennel and Orange), an array of gourmet pizzas, burgers, ribs, specials (Oxtail Potjie, Mauritian Seabass) and an ‘Our Famous Steaks’ section.
On asking what was recommended, the definitive answer was ‘a steak’. Stephan gets his beef from a small farm in the Kalahari that prides itself on the treatment of their free-range cattle and the subsequent quality of their meat. It sounded pretty convincing so we opt for the 28 day dry-aged Ribeye on the bone and the Picanha Rump with a bocconcini salad and the bobotie spring rolls to start.
The Wine list and Craft beer selection are vast with Stephen opting to supply a majority of boutique wine farms over better-known estates; it’s a wonderfully compiled collection with a nice number by the glass. BUT, with so many unfamiliar wines to choose from, how do you choose? Stephan has created a ‘Flight of Wine’ option at R50 which allows customers to choose any 3 wines from the ‘by-the-glass’ options, no matter the price. It’s a fantastic way to start your dining experience, giving diners the option to explore new and interesting wines they might never have tried. I opted for a Nitida Semilon, a Cederberg Buketraube and a Peter Faulk Pinot Noir; all of which were niche and delicious, and two of which I had never heard of!
My partner tried a few tasters of the craft beers on Tap (A Golden Lager, Irish Red Ale, IPA and Pilsner) and opted for a draught of the Pilsner; smooth, light and easy on the palate.
The bobotie spring rolls were crisp, moreish and homely – well spiced and served with a side of Mrs Balls, of course. The Bocconcini salad was beautifully presented with two different kinds of tomatoes interspersed with gorgeously soft bocconcini balls and basil pesto. My only problem with this dish is that it hadn’t been seasoned, but once a little salt and pepper was added, it was delicious.
Then came the steaks: we both opted for them to be served on smoking-hot Himalayan salt blocks which added a wonderful theatrical element to the experience as well as a delicate seasoning. The Ribeye was melt-in-your-mouth soft; the rich marbling throughout and dry-aging ensured the end product was succulent and oh so flavourful. There was no need for a steak knife; I could have cut it with blunt spoon. My partner’s Picanha Rump was just as good: the ‘Picanha’ refers to the triangular cut of rump at the top of the rump that is covered in a layer of fat and is most popular in Brazil. The cut makes it even more flavourful and salacious; it did not disappoint.
Both steaks were served with triple cooked potato wedges that are beyond amazing – perfectly crisp exteriors with the fluffiest and lightest interiors as well as some lovely organic veg – although I didn’t feel these were even necessary as the steak and wedges were just beyond wonderful.
We paired the mains with a glass of Akkerdraai Cab Sauv which was rich, but not as heavy as most South African Cab Sauvs – and refreshingly so.
For dessert, we opted for the gin and tonic sorbet and the crème brûlée. The gin and tonic sorbet is more of a granita; it didn’t have the creaminess you’d expect from a sorbet and is more refreshing than sweet; so if you have a sweet tooth, rather opt for one of their artisan ice creams. The crème brûlée was faultless; creamy, rich and with a beautifully crisp layer of caramel.
My only gripes: because of the high ceilings and large glass windows, the space needs some heating – a few mushroom heaters would easily warm the restaurant in winter. The service is friendly and warm, but just needs a little more cohesion; but these are both things that are easily fixed.
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