I had heard about them. Reviews varied according to where you were on the Eat-to-Live barometer. But as a very picky eater, I wasn’t going to let the opinions of my peers dictate my perception of a venue I had only heard of through the grapevine. Finding this venue seemed simple enough on the GPS – and if they were going for a hidden gem in the middle of Sandton – they nailed it. Took me a few minutes circling their perimeter to realize… oh, they’re part of a luxurious apartment suite. #FacePalm
The Codfather is one of those seemingly quiet, understated places that whacks you between the eyes from the moment you set foot inside. It is an establishment that could take on any of Johannesburg’s foodie temples – Signature, Saints, Marble – all of which I adore. Waitrons know the main dishes and everything that goes in them like they made it themselves, but the real excitement lies within the printed menu, which is a collection of thoughtfully considered dishes for every palette. Whether you’re a lion-hearted carnivore or a stuck up pescatarian, there’s a handful of meals to satisfy your gastronomic pleasures.
We began simple – trying not to overindulge – with the prawn spring rolls and the mushroom tortellini, the latter of which was a delightful surprise. The prawn spring roll was as expected. Other than the crunchy exterior, everything I imagined it would taste like, was exactly that. I half wondered if my choice was too ordinary for the occasion, but it was a safe bet to begin the experiential journey. The tortellini is one of the best applications for a mushroom I have ever come across. The parmesan and basil pesto was heavy with cracked black pepper and all the hidden delights you associate with a pasta pocket. It’s a massive flavour bomb inside a soft pasta shell. It leaves you chasing the last smear about the plate, hopelessly. What makes it sing is the rush of strident flavours that can be hated by some, while being loved by others. The haters are obviously wrong, but that’s OK. More for the rest of us. At R75 (about USD$6) it is a small but thrillingly formed piece of edible loveliness.
I quenched my thirst with a glass of gin, not because it paired well with the meals ahead – but because I escaped the wine cart years ago and haven’t looked back. Sue me! My companion went full carnivore and ordered a hefty slab of T-Bone steak. I on the other hand, continued down the seafood rabbit hole and dove in for a platter of prawns and a side of chips. I won’t sugar coat it – this is serious, bourgeois cooking, with no interest in the restrained. The kitchen wants you to know you have been fed. The prawns arrived with a side of peri sauce. Seafood is delicate; best leave well alone and all that. Then again, if you know what you’re doing, how much better is it to take the good stuff and make it shine through technique and good taste?
Now – there is a good amount going on with the T-bone. But the truly astonishing thing is that it does not overwhelm the beast, which still speaks for itself. What underpins the cooking is a clear understanding of the essentials that go into a slab of meat. A pristine piece of T-bone, seared on the outside and soft and juicy within – utter delight. There is a side of greens to help you pretend this isn’t a total heart-stopper.
To end the presentation was a parade of 14 delicious homemade ice creams complete with unusual and unfamiliar choices. Everything from Mango Cheesecake to Bubblegum, I was most alarmed by the Liquorice one which wasn’t as overpowering as I imagined it would be.
Some great restaurants are anticipated with sweaty expectation. But every now and then a place like The Codfather Sandton comes seemingly out of nowhere and delivers plates of food you just can’t forget.
4 / 5 Food you won’t easily forget.
5 /5 Service with a smile
Price Range: R500 per person