Thief is a resturant and wine bar that wants to steal a bit of your time! The open plan kitchen serves fine dinning inspired by international ravel, alongside a curated wine list. While I do try to keep a healthy lifstyle as much as possible, I also appreciate balance so I’ve enjoyed many a tipple at Thief. When they asked id I’d like to try some of the vegan options, I jumped at the chance.
Thief opened in 2017, in what was previously a car work shop but you’d never know from the industrial dining space owners Elena Venzo and Shayne Holt have created. The warm, welcoming ambiance keep people coming back again and again. Thief offers both a fine dinning experience and wine pairings at the resturant, if you’re after something more relaxed Upstairs at Thief is ideal for tapas and sundowners. Sandton’s hidden gem has a stellar list, with over 280 labels-mostly boutique. Venzo and Holt respect every part of the wine making process- that’s vinification to you and me- and the experience and staff at Thief reflect this.
Resident sommelier Desire Ndoluvo often gives recommendations after finding out your preferences. The menu changes seasonally and head chef Ashleigh Murison-Johnson has added some spectacular dishes to the newsest menu.
The menu doesn’t have any standardise vegan options but they will make them up for you on request. I alwasy recommend calling resturants ahead if you’re vegan and don’t see anything on the menu for you. If you don’t call Thief ahead it’s ok as they’ll still make something up for you. Fot starters, I had the Butternut Soup with mint oil, pumpkin seed and cumin crumble. It’s an expertly spiced soup served with sourdough Thief make daily. It is usually made with dairy so be sure to specify vegan. Ndlovu and Venzo recommended this be paired with Creation Reserve Chardonnay or Lieben Pinot Noir.
Next, Chef Ashley Murison-Johnson prepared something really special with a decivingly simple name- Textures of Baby Marrow. Pickled marrow with turmeric and cardamom, blanched baby marrow with apricot oil, deep fried rice noodels, cabbage and celeriac. It was incredible. Earlier I meantioned calling resturants to let them know you’re vegan before stopping in and dishes like this are the reason why. Given the oppurtunity, Chef Ashley dived deep into fine dinning by working with the “challenges” of plant-based or vegan cuisine instead of lamenting them. This dish was a brilliant play on light textures and flavours, it was also so beautifully presented in a way that reflected the delicacy of everything on the plate. This was paired with a Miles Mossop Introduction Chenin, rich in the mouth with notes of pineapple, peach and citrus.
Curried lentils with roasted onions, crispy kale and apricot puree was for mains. I could eat this on a weekly basis for the rest of my life. I’m not being overly dramatic. Here’s the thing about vegetarians and vegans- most of us eat a lot of lentils. To make a memorable dish out of lentils is not that easy. These lentils were almost al dente, tender but with texture, the spicing of turmeric, corriander, cumin and a touch of chilli was morish. The accompanying kale, roasted onions and apricot puree elevated the dish with crying out for attention. The Blacksmith, The Horseman White Rider is a robust Chenin Blanc that stood up to the punchy flavours of the Curried Lentils.
Roses may not always have had the most sophisticated reputation and I have to admit that I jumped on the bandwagon of not loving rose after tasting a few sweet ones in my college years. Fable Mountains Vineyard Belle Flower 2017 has changed my mind on how incredible roses can be, as the name suggests this one has a floral nose. Notes of orange blossom, strawberry, nutmeg and caradmom give way to a soft, creamy mouthfeel. This was an excellent way to finish off a meal. I will be returning to this old favourite as often as I can to eat from this seasonl menu before the next one rolls in.