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Dinner at Zioux: Inside Joburg's Afro-Art Nouveau Escape

David Higgs and Gary Kyriacou have opened their third ultra-cool city hotspot where they serve big flavours, escapism and formidable signature cocktails

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By House & Garden South Africa | January 25, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Text by Neo Khanyile.

Following the runaway success of their previous endeavours, Marble and Saint, co-founders celebrity chef David Higgs and Gary Kyriacou are well on their way to establishing Joburg’s newest ‘it’ spot: Zioux. Less of a clubby experience than Saint (which, if that’s what you’re into, is next door), Zioux has all the high-glam attraction without getting elbowed in the madding crowd, all while offering a small-plates menu to augment diners against the formidable cocktail offering. Cocktails like the signature Agua De-Me-Hee-Ko (tequila and mango-based alchemy that's ‘like drinking a pudding with alcohol’).

Picture: Chef David Higgs, Supplied

‘When we first discussed what we wanted to do with the menu, it was that we wanted something different that Joburg hadn’t seen before,’ says co-head chef Mike van Rooyen who, along with colleague chef Moses Moloi, riff on a kind of South American-style cuisine, adapted to incorporate locally sourced produce. ‘When you’re doing smaller plates of food, they have to incorporate bigger flavour,’ Mike says. ‘As it is a 110-seater restaurant, the idea is to have shareable plates with more intense flavours that blend spiciness with some saltiness and acidity’ he adds.

Zioux boasts a light, seafood-based menu with a big focus on the raw bar – ceviche, tiradito, and oysters are marinated in different flavours including red habaneros, Morita chilli, and fresh truffle. The bar, made of back-lit onyx, serves as the centrepiece at Zioux, giving the space a sensuous, grounded gravitus – especially at night. When evening rolls in, the bar speaks a whole different language, thanks in part to the music (a mix of low-fi beats and lounge), and wow-factor lighting design (more on this in a little bit).

Picture: Supplied

Irene Kyriacou, who worked on the last two Marble Group projects, says she drew on her travel experiences while writing the design narrative for Zioux. Along with branding specialists, Grid Worldwide and interior company RedDeco, Irene wanted to create a space that was an escape from the city hustle and bustle. ‘We wanted to create somewhere people can escape to. That's where Zioux (pronounced Zoo) came from.’

The resulting aesthetic is a little bit Art Nouveau, a little bit 1970s (thanks to the profusion of animal print). The team collaborated with local artists, including Damien Grivan and Krisjan Roussow, to create the restaurant's artwork. Award-winning furniture, lighting, and accessories designer, Thabisa Mjo, provided the oversized lantern tapestries suspended above the bar.

Plans to introduce a high tea on Saturday afternoons and a Sunday brunch menu are in progress. You can follow the Zioux journey on Instagram @zioux_jhb. Take a look inside the Zioux luxury cocktail bar and champagne lounge in the gallery below.

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