There’s been a bit of a rebirth at the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Ethos, which not only transitioned to a new space at Oxford Parks in Rosebank but has also teamed up with culinary superhero Chef Luke Dale Roberts, who has designed a brand-new menu and appointed Executive Chef Ken Phuduhudu to lead the team!
Eager to experience anything under the brand of the legendary Chef Luke Dale Roberts—even if it were bokdrols on toast—we booked ourselves a table for lunch and arrived with appetites honed to a razor’s edge. Right off the bat, it needs to be said that this restaurant is truly beautiful. Sprawling out onto a generous outdoor terrace, there is ample seating for long, leisurely daytime and evening dining.
For generations, the shores of the Mediterranean have been deeply alluring: embedded in its story is not only the warmth of its spirit, but the romance of its tales and its people – the feeling of timelessness brought on by its ancient and iconic landscapes.
Quite in-line with this description, inside, a full-sized olive tree takes centre stage with the most astonishing artistry of swirling ceiling molding guiding the eye down the length of the restaurant. Marble table tops, earthy fabrics, raw woods, and a gorgeous glass wine cellar complete the very pleasing aesthetic of this restaurant, which pays homage to the ancient cuisines birthed along the shores of the Mediterranean.
Our server was Mango and I hope he reads this for more delectable than anything we tried on the menu was his charm and professionalism. Truly, he is a credit to Ethos and a proud ambassador of the restaurant’s very identity: “The characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations.” That is you, Mango.
But now, let’s move on to the food.
Point of embarkation
We embarked upon our Mediterranean culinary adventure with an amuse-bouche of oysters done two ways: one served fresh and undoctored, and the other with a delicious swirl of red wine vinegar, shallots, sriracha, and cracked black pepper. With two other people in our party who don’t eat oysters, I got (extremely) lucky. Delicious, fresh, and like a smack of sea, even though you’re over 1,000 kilometers from the nearest coastline.
Then, instead of ordering individual starters, we decided to get a smorgasbord of tapas plates, which Ethos then considerately brought on one big platter to share. Our selection included the:
Lamb kofte or meat balls, served on a landing strip of yoghurt and mint tahini;
Grilled peri-peri tiger prawns marinated in garlic and herbs;
100 Grams of grilled wagyu rib-eye served on ciabatta smeared with a roasted tomato and citrus dressing, and crowned with baby spinach and basil leaves;
Tempura calamari, preserved lemon, and squid ink aioli;
A hunk of feta cheese on a sweet bed of Josper-oven-baked cherry tomatoes and red peppers, and drizzled with honey and tomato sauce; and, finally …
Fresh baked pita bread and baba ghanoush, a Levantine appetizer of mashed cooked eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, and various seasonings.
As delicious accompaniment, we ordered the 2018 Vondeling Babiana, a luscious and ripe white blend of Chenin, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne.
The main affair
At this point we could quite happily have rolled out of Ethos but perhaps it was the restless romance and intrepid spirit of the Mediterranean that had possessed us; encouraging us onwards, even though we were quite satiated after sharing such an ambitious starter platter. Never mind, that’s what take-away boxes are for.
For mains, we ordered the paella-style risotto, prepared with saffron, chorizo, calamari, mussels, fresh herbs, and a whole fillet of pan-seared kingklip; the wild mushroom gnocchi with truffle cream, parmesan, fresh grated truffle, and lemon zest (I mean, need I say more?); and fresh kingklip with seasonal vegetables and potato, served in a pool of the most delicious lemon and thyme sauce. While my compatriots stuck with the white blend, I indulged my decades-long love affair with red wine with a glass of the intensely fragrant Creation Pinot Noir 2020.
And now we were most decidedly going to roll out of Ethos but not before getting what remained of our main meals in a take-away box. (It gives one something to look forward to the following day.)
So, here’s the thing: the dessert stomach is real. Trust me. How else would I have managed a dessert of baklava, pistachio and yoghurt ice-cream, and mixed nut tuile? Here’s another thing: I am not a “sweet” person and yet, to my mind, this particular dessert was the resounding highlight of the meal—absolutely divine! And thanks to Mango’s most attentive recommendations, I swished it all down with a honeyed glass of the 2017 Joostenberg Noble Late Harvest dessert wine.
We greatly enjoyed our meal at Ethos. I said it before and I’ll say it again: the restaurant is absolutely beautiful and the perfect space for romantic indoor dinners, seductive bar meet-ups, and leisurely hedonism on the terrace (whatever your preference). The service was also impeccable—thanks, Mango—and the vibe deeply affecting. The team at Ethos is most certainly to be congratulated on their transplant and reimagining.