Kream has been a favourite among Pretoria’s fussier diners since first opening its doors in 2007, and with good reason: it nails that mix of great location, flawless service and top-class cuisine with remarkable consistency. The new premises on Dey Street are cosier than the previous Brooklyn Bridge, but the experience is as upmarket as before.
Food type: Fine-dining food, modern, South African, sushi
Parking: On the street, additional parking available in a secure lot across the road
Cost: R195 for an average main meal
Star ratings: Food and drinks 4; service 4; ambience 5
Big-budget dinners, business meals, special occasions.
A selection of artisanal bread and four types of flavoured butter kick things off, but best to practice restraint at this point and save space for the good stuff. The baked camembert is a moreish delight. It comes with an intriguing almond-and-cranberry crumble, made unexpectedly elegant with a drizzle of hibiscus honey. The tuna tartare is generously portioned, with avocado and wasabi purée offering a delicate counterpoint. Equally eye-catching options include saffron pear and goat’s cheese, salmon gravlax and wild mushroom risotto balls. After a such a spectrum of flavours, the strawberry sorbet is aptly refreshing.
The vegan main is a handsome dish of baby marrow noodles with deliciously crisp edges. Dollops of basil pesto and rather unwieldy broccoli florets threaten to overwhelm the subtler tastes of the mushrooms, artichokes and cubed potatoes, but this is nonetheless a hearty, well-thought out meal.
Meat-eaters, however, won’t be disappointed by the beef fillet given a tasty twist with roasted bone marrow, a sublime bordelaise sauce and exceptionally well-made fondant potatoes. Other grill options include smoked pork belly, lamb shank and sirloin steak topped with a blue-cheese sauce and biltong shavings. One could just as easily come for the sushi, which is among the finest you’ll find in the capital city – and surprisingly unfussy and well-priced.
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For dessert, classic crème brûlée is partnered with popcorn and salted caramel ice cream: a brave combination that risks over-amplifying the sweetness of the one and saltiness of the other. The frozen honey-and-almond nougat parfait, however, is a dreamy concoction of icy, chewy goodness, made pleasantly complex with dainty details like lime gel, orange segments and almond crumble. The rainbow-coloured cheesecake served with crushed candy cane is a playful alternative, or go for the fruit- and mascarpone-filled crêpe parcels with hazelnut ice cream.
From an impressive array of fine French bubbles to an excellent selection of cognac, gin and rare whiskies, the extensive drinks menu sees to it that special occasions are matched with a fitting libation. The sommelier will help you navigate the endlessly vast wine list to find just the right one, while the cocktail line-up consists of all the classics.
A squadron of gracious, superbly trained staff ensures that guests are made to feel welcome in a flurry of attentiveness. Although it may feel excessive to some, it’s all been carefully planned and there are no awkward, mid-chew interruptions of the “how is your meal?” variety. The service is exceptional throughout, although some staff go about it with a little more heart than others.
The ambience is perhaps where Kream truly shows its fine-dining mettle: it’s just so good at getting the little things right. While dinnertime conversation fills the main eating areas with the sound of pleasant chatter, it’s still discreet. The music is played at just the right volume, the temperature is perfect, and high ceilings, reflective surfaces and fine local art team up to create an experience that is sophisticated from start to finish.