Last week we finally got to The Pop Luck Club in Maboneng. I originally made a booking for a month earlier, but then life… so I was delighted to finally have this limited edition dining experience!
Let’s start at the beginning: The Pop Luck Club is the pop-up Jozi version of the famous Pot Luck Club in Woodstock (Cape Town) by the uber-chef Luke Dale-Roberts. When I first read about The Pot Luck Club pop-up in Jozi, I was overjoyed.
This gastronomic experience was cleverly launched together with The Marabi Club & opened for business early in July 2017.
The Decor & Ambience
It is hard to capture this experience in words or with my iPhone pictures, but I’m going to try my best.
On arrival at the Pop Luck Club, you feel a bit like you’ve arrived at a secret location. Once you walk through the door, you are surprised by the ambience & gorgeous setting.
The Marabi Club’s decor is awesome with vintage elements & unique touches like real (!) piano keys used to decorate the bar. The basins in the bathrooms are mounted on old Singer sewing machine stands. I had a little chuckle by myself because it took me forever to figure out that you have to step on the pedal to get the tap going.
We didn’t pay lots of attention to the extensive, yet pricey drinks menu which offers some unique creations like a Thai Green Curry Martini & various boutique wines. Instead, our party of four started with a round of sparkling water, G&T for some, whilst my friend & I had a classic Martini which seemed fitting in the setting. We decided to have wines by the glass with our meal.
Now we are finally getting to the best part. The menu consists of Luke’s Pot Luck signature tapas-style plates that ought to be shared. It is best to be more than two diners (in my view) & order three to four plates per person. We had 12 plates between the four of us & the quantities were perfect. When you go & are unsure about what or how much to order then ask the waiting staff who are super friendly & on hand to help you decide.
Our night kicked off with the local Artisanal Bread served with Carrot Hummus (yes please!) & chimichurri verde – a green sauce typically made of garlic, vegetable oil, oregano, parsley, chilli & lemon. Add some roast garlic, olives & delicious home-made butter & you’re in food heaven.
The Pot Luck Fish Tacos with Fresh Tuna Ceviche, Black Bean Puree, Avo & Sour Cream have received some criticism from a couple of reviewers, but our party thoroughly enjoyed it. The Mexican-inspired flavours were exactly what I like.
The plating of the Fish Crudo with Granadilla Tiger’s Milk was done so beautifully that it was almost a crime to take it apart. The taste also didn’t disappoint. And just in case you are wondering: Tiger’s Milk is also known as leche de pantera – leftover fish run off that usually contains lime juice, sliced onion, chillies, salt & a splash of fish juice.
My three favourite dishes of the night were the Beef Tataki with Hoisin Dressing, Coriander Pesto & Ponzu Mayo. The flavours were so amazing that we were very tempted to order a second round! Joint second place went to The Sesame Crusted Salmon with Doenjang Mayo & Teriyaki Sauce & the Smoked Beef Fillet with the most unbelievable Truffle Café Au Lait sauce which is the definition of umami. It makes you wish you could lick the plate.
I didn’t care very much for the Warm Duck, Scallop & Orange Salad. It was plated with much care but simply didn’t do anything for my taste buds.
The Braised Short Rib & Pork Belly with Luke’s XO Dressing are good enough, but I might give them a miss next time.
The two dessert options were Heaven Bacon (which is an Almond & Apple Tart with Burnt Peanut Butter, Popcorn Ice Cream & a piece of Maple Glazed Bacon). The Heaven Bacon was totally upstaged by the Churros though.
A side note: Like with a typical fine dining feast, you might not enjoy this spot if you have extreme allergies or if you are a super picky eater. This is a dining experience, so make sure you’re hungry, have your credit card & time to soak up the awesomeness of the Pop Luck Club.
The live music is Marabi-style – which is a style of township music that evolved in the early 1990’s in the old gold mining areas of the Witwatersrand. It combines African sounds with international styles of music & adds a very special touch to the experience.
Once the dinner service is over, the music heats up (& a cover charge applies).
The musicians are amazing & I was honestly a bit sad when we left at around 10 pm, because they were getting hotter!
What you can expect to pay
This is not the spot for a night out on a tight budget. Instead, so make it an occasion to remember & budget around R600 per person. If you’re keen on expensive wines, then up the number. In my view, it is still worth the money.
If, like me, you are a bit uneasy about going into the city centre, then just be sure to have so the address in your GPS so that you can drive straight to the Marabi Club. I would also recommend that you use the valet service at The Marabi Club. It is convenient, makes you feel like a VIP & at ease. It is charged at only R30 & gets added to your bill.
A Final Word
Rumour has it that The Pop Luck Club is not as amazing the original Mother City version, but lucky (or maybe unlucky) for us who haven’t been to The Pot Luck Club, so we could not compare the two.
Thumbs up to the geniuses who brought this amazing dining experience to Joburg.
Dinner service is from 18:00 – 22:30 from Wednesday to Saturday & lunch on Sundays from 12:00 – 15:30.
47 Sivewright Ave, New Doornfontein; 010-591-2872; firstname.lastname@example.org.