The new space is still based on multiple course tastings, but there are fundamental shifts. Firstly, it is no longer called Cube, but rather Est Est Alea, which translates as, “It is still Cube.” Of the menu, Di Angeli is adamant, “I’m sticking to my guns, I am not an a la carte restaurant, I do tasting menus.” His goal is to create an experience that helps to offset the stress of living in Johannesburg, “Provide people with the best of everything, let them leave their problems at the door, and most importantly make them feel cared for.”
The menu itself has progressed with current trends. His food has always been heavily influenced by molecular gastronomy, but he is moving away from that. “I’ve gone back to real classic cooking, prime ingredients at the intersection between sustainability and quality. Of the flavours, the flamboyance remains, “some of the flavor combinations will be classic, but it is still Cube, so mostly, they will be wacky.”
The meal at Est Est Alea seems, therefore, to be a battle weighed in Di Angeli’s favour. He has the pedigree, access to ingredients, and the location upon which to stage his attack. The meal starts off with a reintroduction to nachos and margarita’s. The drink element comes on a spoon in sphere form, while the nacho is a cracker of smoked duck and bean salad, topped with avocado and sorrel. It’s a remarkably tasty little slip of a thing. So too is what follows… a Tom Yum jelly with squid ink and dehydrated slap chips. A pool of curry sauce comes next, topped with perfectly picked and seasoned crab, although when told that the crab is Alaskan king carb, the provenience and sustainability comes into question. The highlight, however, is a springbok tartare with soy poached tomato cheeks and a tian of aubergine, which perfectly marries ingredient, technique and personal style. It's effortless and perfectly executed.