Visually gorgeous dishes are being served up at Urbanologi, an experimental Asian-fusion tapas-style restaurant at 1 Fox Precinct, an urban rejuvenation project that’s transformed a series of warehouses in historic Ferreirasdorp, Jo’burg. The restaurant is an extension of Mad Giant, a brewery that’s been designed to dazzling effect by furniture creator Haldane Martin – the same creative force behind the steampunk aesthetic at Truth Coffee HQ in Cape Town. Against the backdrop of Mad Giant’s Meccano-inspired
industrial design and graffiti murals by Justin Nomad, plates like these are being put together by Zimbabwe-born chef, Jack Coetzee, who took over Urbanologi’s kitchen in February.
Coetzee’s first serious restaurant experience was under Luke Dale-Roberts at The Test Kitchen in Woodstock, but his fundamental approach to food draws on a childhood
understanding of the value of well-sourced quality ingredients. ‘I was privileged to have been brought up in a small farming community,’ he says. ‘Our supermarkets were vegetable and herb patches in the back garden. Milk was still warm from the cows – the seasonal quality of grass could be picked up in the flavour of the milk. Between farmers, there was a bartering system. Milk was traded for eggs, sheep for a hind quarter of a steer.’
Coetzee’s respect for food’s provenance combines with Urbanologi’s experimental philosophy to arrive at what’s being called ‘Urban Garde’ cuisine, bringing a South African edge to Japanese street food techniques. Pictured here are Coetzee’s steamed brioche filled with truffle cremé and topped with beetroot salt. Other specialities include: coal-fired broccoli mops served with a smoked gorgonzola cream and broccoli gremolata; swordfish sashimi pickled with apple, mustard and lime, served with grapefruit and plums, and garnished with ginger and amaranth; and a ginger malva pudding on a bed of popcorn soil, sesame crisp, lime leaf and coconut ice cream.
Aside from art on the plate, there’s a well-curated choice of South African wines to sip, or you can select from Mad Giant’s range of dry-hopped beers – aside from brewer Eben Uys’s usual weiss beer, pilsner and ales, there are experimental seasonal and limited-edition beers.
1 Fox Street, Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg,
+27 11 492 1399, urbanologi.co.za.