Restaurant Review: Sensational Sebule by chef Freddie Dias

03 Mar 2024
Chef Freddie Dias is hot property. He worked at Michelin-star restaurants in France, headed up The Pot Luck Club in Cape Town, and steered Basalt at The Peech Hotel to gourmet greatness before opening his own restaurant, Séjour at The Houghton Hotel, to critical acclaim. Dias's fans can now delight in the knowledge that he's opened his second contemporary restaurant, Sebule at The African Pride Hotel in Melrose Arch.
Chef Freddie Dias, an absolute talent, a perfectionist, but also a truly genuine person. Photo: Kate Liquorsh.

With Sebule, Dias celebrates bold flavours, spices, and live-fire cooking, with steaks and seafood the primary focus. He describes the offering as "contemporary, open-flame cuisine", but it's always tricky to pigeonhole a fine-dining experience in just a few words. We describe Sebule as plush, punchy, and decadent.

'Sebule' (pronounced 'sɛbulɛ') means 'living room' in Swahili. Dias and his team have created an offering that is intimate and personal, in a meticulously curated, but comfortable environment, serving intricate dishes that are wondrously vibrant and daring.
An impressive setting to say the least awaits at Sebule. Photo: Kate Liquorish.

The space was formerly the lobby bar at the Melrose Arch Hotel and has been completely reimagined. Sebule is both impressive and inviting, and you immediately feel you're in for something special. The bar is adorned with an enormous and magnificent mosaic along with an impressive collection of cognacs and whiskeys. The live-fire grill is positioned centre-stage, fringed by sumptuous tables covered in leather tablecloths and regal chairs that were made for long lunches.

The main menu is inspired by nature's four elements: earth (vegetarian), air (chicken), water (seafood), and fire (coal-fired beef and lamb dishes). Naturally, the menu is abundant in ingredients that are charred, seared, grilled, and roasted over the open flame and in the charcoal-fired oven, the result being dishes that are loud and proud, bright, and bursting with flavour. 
The tantalizing tuna tataki starter at Sebule. Photo: Kate Liquorish. 

The starters take on a slightly more subtle tone. Think West Coast oysters, crispy calamari with pickled papaya and fresh herbs, and a charred lettuce and red cabbage salad. We opted for the tuna tataki with an ancho dressing, tomato, and avocado, as well as the spiced chorizo assado with a chickpea ragu and roasted garlic aioli. The tuna tataki is sensational, the combination of smokey, piquant ancho chillis with cooling avocado, crisp and peppery radishes, and seared tuna is a fresh and savoury showstopper. The Spanish chorizo assado is a dish that bursts with colour and flavour, the chickpea ragu is brimming with warming Moroccan spices, and tied together beautifully with a rich aioli. 
Everything you ever dreamt of and more from the Denver steak and marrow bone pops. Photo: Kate Liquorish.

Chef's recommendations for mains included the herb-crusted rack of lamb; the swordfish with chokka (squid), charred corn, and sauce bourride; the smoked gnocchi with charred asparagus, asparagus cream, and Parmesan; and the coal-fired 350g Denver steak. We tried the Denver steak and the swordfish. The Denver steak is a lesser-known cut and one of Sebule's specialities. It's similar in flavour to a ribeye but slightly more tender. In a nutshell, it's fantastic! It's a carnivore's utopia when paired with Dias's latest culinary invention of crumbed and deep-fried bone marrow (aptly named 'marrow bone pops'), along with a sultry beef jus, and roasted baby potatoes. The swordfish also impressed. The robust nature of the different textures and rich umami notes are cause for pause because it's the kind of dish you want to savour; to let your brain catch up with what's going on in your mouth. So order another glass of wine, sit back, and take it all in.
The whiskey caramel dessert tastes as good as it looks. Photo: Kate Liquorish.

To finish, we indulged in a duo of exquisite desserts: whiskey and miso caramel mousses with passion fruit, and a silky matcha ice-cream with a light vanilla sponge, raspberries, and a dark chocolate crumb. Each dessert offers different sweet experiences. The whiskey and caramel is a slightly more grown-up take on desserts with beautiful savoury notes, and the raspberry and matcha was, quite simply, a feminine, ambrosial delight. 

Dias's team doesn't set a foot wrong and the service, too, is on point. You're welcomed with a warm smile, and that warmth and welcome continues throughout.

The cellar boasts an impressive collection of older vintages. You'll find 1990–2000 vintages of Kanonkop Pinotage, Kaapzicht, L'Avenir, and more, but you don't have to splurge as there are very reasonable options by the glass and a good array of better-known and boutique wines by the bottle. Their in-house sommelier is sure to guide you in the right direction, and we're pleased to report that upselling isn't part of their ethos.


Sebule is a 10-minute drive from the Rosebank Gautrain station. See our guide to the Gautrain here and download the Gautrain app for real-time updates on when the next Gautrain and Gautrain midi-bus is due. Visit for more information on the timetable and fares. #YourGautrainJourneyStartsHere


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