The winners of the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards were announced on Sunday – with a few surprises. Here is our brand new Top 10.
1. The Test Kitchen (Woodstock, Cape Town)
Taking the title of Restaurant of the Year for the fourth year running, Luke Dale-Roberts’s edgy fine dining restaurant continues to display utter brilliance.
“Creativity, talent, innovation and oh, the food! This is what places The Test Kitchen at the forefront of South African dining,” said judge Abigail Donnelly. Top-notch servers patrol the buzzing space in Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill, and tables book up many months in advance. The contemporary menu is an eclectic blend of east and west. Think – if your imagination can manage it – shiitake in squid-ink chawanmushi with chestnuts, or a springbok rose of liver, chestnuts, beetroot and cocoa nibs. Watch the video here.
2. La Colombe (Constantia, Cape Town)
Chef Scot Kirton took home the title of S.Pellegrino Chef of the Year at this year’s awards – and the restaurant leapt from being a nominee in 2013, to the number two spot this year. At the new venue on the Silvermist Estate in Constantia, the restaurant is perched on the side of the mountain, like a modern, elegant lodge. Scot is taking the opportunity to experiment and add a playful touch to his pretty plates. Lift the lid of a tuna tin to find a Lilliputian seared tuna tataki, or sample the hen’s egg with poached salmon, asparagus velouté, peas and black forest ham. Pastry chef Glen Williams is full of imagination – and the dessert of ginger curd, cashew cake with mango sorbet, black sesame brittle and buttermilk is not to be missed. Watch the video here.
3. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais (Franschhoek)
Margot Janse celebrates twenty years at the restaurant in 2015, and dining here is an experience to savour. Set aside three hours for the eight-course menu, which is constantly evolving but always pays homage to our country. Dishes like ‘a day at the beach’, a fish dish with seaweed, eugenia, buchu and Natal wild plums, use local ingredients to set the scene for a proudly local story. The restaurant also took home this year’s Service Excellence Award (for the second year running) thanks to its superbly trained storytellers who serve the diners. Watch the video here.
4. Greenhouse at the Cellars-Hohenort (Constantia, Cape Town)
The menu at this Constantia restaurant is full of drama and detail, and each artfully dabbed dot on the menu is packed with flavour. Standout dishes include a masterful cheese course, displaying Dalewood’s Huguenot as a soufflé, in its pure form, in a panna cotta and as a creamy, magnificent ice cream. The restaurant has recently been refurbished and took home the 2015 Boschendal Style Award for its stylish charcoal walls, bare timber tables and comfortable leather chairs. Watch the video here.
5. Five Hundred (Sandton, Joburg)
Undoubtedly the brightest star on the Johannesburg skyline, the Saxon Hotel’s flagship restaurant delighted the judges with inspired technique and seasonal produce-driven creations from the hotel’s rooftop garden. Chef David Higgs has announced his departure at the end 2015, and will be succeeded by head chef Candice Philip. Highlights include kabeljou pickle with a chorus of sultanas, broad beans raw pea juice and toasted nori and the kudu loin with sherried gooseberries. Sommelier Lloyd Jusa took home the 2015 Wine Service Award. Watch the video here.
6. The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Somerset West, Western Cape)
This wine estate restaurant makes the Top 10 list for the first time this year – and chef Gregory Czarnecki is cooking his socks off, creating fare as light and ethereal as his glasshouse lair in the Helderberg mountains. Dishes might include a farmed Mulloway kabeljou with pistachio, broccoli and endive, or Joostenberg Vlakte duck with orange confit and a sultana fritter. “Gregory’s cooking has never been this good. The flavours are incredible and his attention to colour and styling are just phenomenal”, said judge Abigail Donnelly. Watch the video here.
7. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Elandsfontein, Pretoria)
Presided over by the supremely talented Chantel Dartnall, this restaurant turns out dramatic, emotion-led dishes, offset by precise attention to detail. The salmon ceviche might be topped with caviar, gold leaf, lemon oil and buttermilk, and a purple glass plate in the shape of a shell holds a luscious plump oyster on a bed of seaweed, in Champagne foam with caviar and a hand-crafted ‘pearl’. A charming and magical menu in this sumptuous space make for a supremely memorable journey. Watch the video here.
8. Terroir (Stellenbosch)
Chef Michael Broughton serves unpretentious but uncompromisingly delicious cuisine. A starter of prawn risotto with sauce Americaine is so good, it may spoil you for the rest of the meal. The parmesan risotto, topped with succulent sautéed prawns is a marvel of balanced flavour and textures. The menu may appear simple, but brace yourself for the depth and technique. A relaxed, country-atmosphere makes this the perfect venue for a winelands lunch. Watch the video here.
9. The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock, Cape Town)
The Test Kitchen’s younger sibling makes the Top 10 list for the first time this year. At the top of the Old Biscuit Mill’s silo building, with wraparound views of the Mother City, head chef Wesley Randles, under the guidance of Luke Dale-Roberts, turns street food into fine dining, in a thrilling array of tapas dishes. Don’t miss the springbok carpaccio with pine nuts or the smoked beef fillet with truffled café au lait sauce. A generous wine menu is complemented by outstanding cocktails like a ‘Thai green curry’ and the perennially popular pineapple-vanilla cosmo. Watch the video here.
10. Jordan Restaurant (Stellenbosch)
Chef George Jardine and his head chef Kyle Burn are turning out food bursting with flavour – high on technique and low on flash-in-the-pan trends. Moreish smoked Kroon duck breast with sautéed duck liver and cauliflower jus, or a honey and poppy-seed soufflé will comfort even the most seasoned diner. The tranquil views over the lake and distant mountains make this a stellar spot for a warm, spectacular lunch. Watch the video here.
Want to know more? Read the full list of winners here.