AtholPlace is a five star, boutique hotel in the heart of Athol; a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Sandton. It’s a little oasis that boasts manicured gardens, exquisite décor, gorgeous art and incredible food and a perfect spot for a meal even if you're not a hotel guest.
Breakfast has a host of options on offer including a refined, continental buffet with a selection of pastries, breads, cheeses and cured meats, preserves, glorious homemade granola, yoghurts and fruit platters. The hot breakfasts take it to the next level with highlights that include truffle-infused, soft-scrambled eggs atop gorgeous smoked salmon, rocket and toasted rye bread or a seriously over the top, French toast stack sandwiching crispy bacon, melted brie and mushrooms, drizzled in a herb pesto and finished with honey roasted nuts.
Lunches are affordable and casual, but the setting and the service add an air of sophistication and elegance, making it the ideal venue for business lunches during the week as well as relaxed extravagance over the weekend. The menu is small and bistro in nature with burgers, pan-fried line-fish, vibrant tagliatelle pastas and wraps or sandwiches. It’s simple, but very good.
Dinner is the main event; the menu changes seasonally and is dependent on what’s fresh and available. It all starts with a warm welcome and a selection of amuse bouche that you can enjoy either at the bar or in the garden to take advantage of the sunset amidst the stunning surrounds.
You’ll then be shown to your table and taken through the set menu choices for the evening. With newly appointed Executive Chef Willie Malherbe at the helm, there’s a definite Asian overtone to the concise and delectable menu. To start you’ll discover sensations like miso broth with seared salmon, crisp tofu, grapefruit and onion shoots and a five spice pork belly with grilled prawns, carrot puree, radish slaw and kale. For mains you’re offered the choice of a fish, chicken, red meat or vegetarian dish, each superb in their own right, and all wonderfully distinctive. The spiced seabass baked in coconut, lemongrass and lime leaf with sautéed pak choi, rice noodles and coriander is a standout dish; delicately seasoned and cooked to perfection, it’s a celebration of good ingredients and clean flavours.
Desserts are always magnificent here and give you the chance to really satiate your sweet tooth. The triple chocolate mousse with pistachio brittle, fig, pomegranate syrup and honey comb ice cream is richer than Rockefeller, but not overly sweet. The combination of smooth, dark chocolate, crunchy pistachios, subtly-sweet fruit and luscious ice cream is just marvellous.
And, to finish, you’ll be served a selection of exquisite petit fours that are just enchanting. They pair beautifully with a little further indulgence at the bar, so be warned, and make sure to get a taxi.
They offer a great spectrum: from affordable, quality wines like Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc and Vrede En Lust Rose to the big players, namely Luddite and Hamilton Russel. The only criticism is that they don’t have any interesting options by the glass; only a few of their entry-level wines, which leaves little space for spoiling in small quantities. I think they would also gain from offering wine suggestions and pairings for each course on the dinner menu, as it would elevate the experience, and take it from memorable to exceptional.
The interior design and décor beautifully combine comfort and style. Thought has been given to the most finite of details and every corner of the restaurant, bar and veranda are decorated with beautiful artefacts and art, and every chair, sofa and bar stool are both chic and cosy. Special attention has been paid to the acoustics in the restaurant, so intimate conversations remain that way. It’s personal and romantic at night and bright and charming throughout the day.
It’s service with a smile. Being part of a five star, boutique hotel, the meticulous hotel service you would come to expect carries through to the restaurant. If it’s a special occasion make sure to tell them as they’re always willing to go the extra mile.
They’ve introduced food and beverage pairing evenings, the first of which is ‘Curry and Craft Beer Fridays’. The tasting forms part of an after-work, before-dinner experience and includes 4 tapas-style curried dishes and 4 selected craft beers that change weekly.
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