Thomas Maxwell Bistro
Thomas Maxwell Bistro is definitely a place for a special occasion or foodie indulgence
With fires roaring and the restaurant already buzzing with people, Thomas Maxwell Bistro in Parkmore, Sandton was a very welcome escape from the Jo’burg chill, and a cosy place to enjoy delicious food in an intriguing environment.
The restaurant is a lot bigger than it seems. We came through the front door, which was closed due to the cold, and were greeted warmly by Thomas Maxwell himself in his chef’s whites and were led through the second section of the restaurant, down a couple of stairs to another room. While it is quite sprawling, there is an easy continuity to the restaurant as a whole and it has a very intimate feel.
Exposed red brick walls and high ceilings run throughout, and everywhere you look there is something new to take in – antique furniture, interesting décor items like birdcages, hand-crafted wooden puppets and rustic books. Our table looked onto the beautiful wine cellar that was stocked to the brim with wines from some of the best winemakers in South Africa, as well as from France and Spain.
Thomas Maxwell’s wine list is impressive and extensive. He is apparently on the sixth version of the list and now includes industry and customer comments, alongside various judges’ critiques. Not merely listing wine and price, the wine menu is filled with tasting notes and information about the different varieties and what to expect from the different flavour profiles.
On recommendation, we went for a bottle of Meerlust Pinot Noir that was fruity, chocolatey, wintery and delicious. They decanted the wine for us, which was a nice touch.
The menu is a wonderful combination of old-time favourites and new, more innovative items which the team have concocted. The Belgian-style mussels with skinny chips is a dish that has been on the menu for years, but due to its popularity and because it would cause an uproar from the regulars if the dish had to be taken off the menu, it is still a firm favourite, and a dish that you can order either for starter or mains.
I had tried the more-ish mussels on a previous visit and so I opted for one of the starters on special – Asian-style ‘money bags’ filled with brie and drizzled with a honey-truffle dressing. The brie was slightly baked, soft and gooey and was a great texture contrast to the crisp filo pastry casing. It only came with a small drizzle of the dressing, so I asked for a little more, which was the perfect accompaniment and sweet combination to the crunchy, little parcels.
My dining partner went for the mussels and enjoyed a bowl of half-shell mussels simmered in garlic, lemon and parsley cream. Ultimate winter comfort food, we both ditched table etiquette and scooped up the indulgent sauce with the half-shells and slurped it down.
For mains, I tried another popular dish – the black mushroom and wild porcini risotto which was rich, creamy and decadent. Sticky, with a lovely bite of Parmesan, the heady mushroom flavour was enhanced wonderfully by truffle oil.
The wasabi sirloin was the dish of choice for my partner and he enjoyed a 300 g sirloin grilled medium rare topped with wasabi butter. The dish came with a cucumber and mascarpone side dish to soften the heat.
We were filled to the brim after the rich starters and mains, so while many of the desserts sounded delicious we didn’t order anything more.
The bill came to over R1 000 for two people for starters, mains and wine; so this is definitely a place for a special occasion or foodie indulgence, but it is a wonderful experience of warm service, divine wine and a menu filled with enticing options.