Food is one of life’s simple pleasures. But there are those who have elevated this pleasure to an art form. Chefs’ who conjure up food so immediately delicious that on tasting a forkful you can’t help but pause, your attention caught up in the combination of flavours at play on your palate. And it’s these chefs and restaurants that were recognized earlier this month at South Africa’s 2014 Eat Out Awards.
The winners were announced at a gala dinner held in Cape Town. A city at the cutting edge of international culinary trends and tastes, Cape Town once again established itself as the country’s foodie capital. Indeed seven of “South Africa’s Top 10 Restaurants” all lie within an hour’s drive of drive of the beaches and mountain of Africa's favourite city.
Luke Dale-Roberts at The Test Kitchen - this year's overall winner.
Cape Town: The Test Kitchen
The Test Kitchen won top spot for the third year running, adding to its many awards and accolades which this year includes a coveted place on Restaurant magazine’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”. Here celebrated chef Luke Dale-Roberts pushes the boundaries with his unique culinary style bringing together a mixture of innovative flavours and cooking techniques. .
Having visited The Test Kitchen earlier this year, Southern African Travel’s General Manager Julien Perreard had the following to say: “The whole dining was an absolutely amazing experience but I loved the fact that it wasn’t formal at all – service was tops but of course best of all was the out-of-this-world combination of art, colour, flavour and texture in each plate put in front of us.”
If you’re coming to Cape Town and want to dine at The Test Kitchen; you’ll need to book well in advance. Their first available booking is currently 28 April 2015!
The technically precise and totally original dishes at The Test Kitchen.
Franschhoek: The Tasting Room
Franschhoek is arguably the prettiest of the Cape Winelands towns. And it’s here, at the luxury boutique hotel Le Quartier Français, that you’ll find Chef Margot Janse’s The Tasting Room. As the name suggests, this restaurant serves a tasting menu of six or eight courses; the bold flavours perfectly paired to wines from the surrounding region. Allow yourself around three to four hours for a dinner at The Tasting Room; it’s an experience that should not be rushed.
The same must be said of the Cape Winelands Region itself. Yes, you could easily drive back to Cape Town but after a six course food-and-wine pairing would you really want to? Our advice: book a night or two in one of the excellent hotels in the area and wake up to that spectacular mountain-and-vineyard scenery. During the day visit the surrounding wine estates via the hop-on hop off vintage tram, stopping for tastings, cellar tours and world-class cuisine.
A small taste of what to expect at Overture Restaurant in Stellenbosch.
Stellenbosch: Jordan Restaurant, Overture, Rust en Vrede, Terroir
The oldest of the Cape Winelands regions, Stellenbosch has long been known for its outstanding (and well-priced) vintages. Add to this a recent surge in contemporary fine dining restaurants, and it’s easy to see why Stellenbosch is a first stop for foodies visiting the Cape. Indeed this oak-shaded town and its elegant estates claimed an impressive four of the Top 10 spots in the 2014Eat Out Awards.
Visit Jordan Restaurant for unpretentious fine dining at its best; a few stand out dishes include the hot-smoked yellowtail, aged Chalmar sirloin, and Chef George Jardine’s signature honey and poppy seed soufflé. In sixth place this year is Overture Restaurant, where Chef Bertus prepares South African heritage food with a contemporary twist.
Rust en Verde Restaurant is located on a 300-year-old wine estate, the perfect setting for food and wine pairing. Sit down to a four- or six-course menu expertly prepared by Chef John Shuttleworth, who cut his teeth at Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK. Or opt for Terroir Restaurant in its wonderfully relaxed setting under ancient oak trees on the Kleine Zalaze Estate.
Dining under ancient oak trees at Terroir Restaurant in Stellenbosch.
Hemel-en-Aarde Valley: The Restaurant at Newton Johnson
Not many people know of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. With a name meaning 'heaven and earth', this beautiful wine producing valley lies just outside Hermanus; the cool Atlantic breezes creating the perfect conditions for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines.
This is where you’ll find the Restaurant at Newton Johnson, a new addition to this year’s Eat Out Top 10. Look forward to country cooking at its best with Chef Eric Bulpitt using local seasonal produce and techniques such as preserving and open fire cooking. For starters try his wild organic salad with raw, pickled and charred vegetables and herbs – it was the best dish of Restaurant Week 2014.
Also, if you’re visiting the Hemel-en-Aarde from August to November you can combine your culinary feast with whale watching in next-door Hermanus.
The magnificent views at Newton Johnson in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
Where To Stay:
Mont Rochelle: Sir Richard Branson’s hotel and vineyards, overlooking the Franshhoek Valley.
Le Quartier Français: conveniently located in the heart of town and home to The Tasting Room.
Lanzerac: set on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, amongst rows of vineyards and landscaped gardens.
The Marine: this elegant luxury hotel has a fantastic cliffside location and expansive sea views.
Stylish bedroom with vineyard views at Mont Rochelle hotel in Franschhoek.