Diane de Beer
In the year that chef Davies Moagi has led the young team at this fine restaurant, he has developed a clear signature for his cuisine. Exquisitely presented dishes have clean lines and clear tastes and his passion for food and establishing his individual style in the industry is paying off big time.
There’s a subtlety yet confidence in dishes such as delicate beetroot cheesecake accompanied by roasted baby beets, beetroot-cured salmon and beetroot ice cream served with mustard, honey and truffle oil as a starter. Also on the menu is a comforting spinach-and-potato soup; a trio of seafood with perfectly crunchy prawns; beautifully prepared biltong-rubbed springbok loin with coffee-smoked lamb rib, grilled fig, sweet potato fondant and pea purée; and the fantastic finale of orange-and-white-chocolate cheesecake with orange sorbet. To top it all is the signature granita – on this night it’s pineapple flavoured.
The balance and quality of the complete meal satisfies but doesn’t overwhelm in taste or quantity. The chef has truly taken flight and Tshwane should be proud of the addition to its fine-dining accomplishments.
The pairing choices are excellent, with Pecan Stream or Tormentoso chenin blanc for starters, Iona sauvignon blanc with the fish course, Hartenberg Doorkeeper shiraz for the sturdier mains and Thelema Vin de Hel muscat late harvest to end on a sweet note.
There’s a lovely laid-back atmosphere in the dining room and that’s due to the staff, their smooth service and the way they embrace their customers.
Granita is about 30 minutes from the capital city and it feels like another world as you escape into the African countryside to arrive at your destination of gabled Cape-Dutch architecture, rolling lawns and star- or sun-filled skies. Everything is set to turn the experience into something special.
It’s good to encourage young chefs who show promise. Granita gets it right time after time.
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The first course of their prix fixe menu consists of roasted baby beetroot with tiny blue cheese and mascarpone quenelles, hazelnut powder and mustard dressing, served on a massive white plate for impact. A seared langoustine tail tops a lovely duck confit ravioli on very tasty wilted spinach, surrounded by a langoustine bisque with a dash of sherry. A soup of tiny cubes of perfectly-cooked chicken resembles the heads of tiny wild mushrooms in the mushroom and chicken soup, further enriched by a poached quail egg.
As its name suggests, Granita always serves a granita palate cleanser, which can be followed by mains of slices of roast rump of lamb with a thin layer of crispy fat, beetroot chips, stewed parsnips, and artichoke purée. The dessert, a trio of apples, consists of a delicious apple panna cotta, apple sorbet and a tiny whole apple with butterscotch sauce.
The wine list is smart and well-designed, showing care and attention.
Achilles Bobo, the restaurant manager/sommelier, is engaging and fun but also thoroughly professional. The service is efficient and crisp, and the chef himself will come out to inform patrons that the kitchen might be running a little behind but not to fret about your order.
Kievits Kroon is a large estate with a larger, commercial dining room also on the property, but Granita has to be one of the most intimate and elegant dining rooms in Pretoria. Simply decorated with just a few local artists’ works gracing the walls, this establishment is about the food and the experience, which is clear from the moment you arrive past the massive arrangement of luxurious fresh flowers in the main foyer.
Davies Moagi is the chef at the helm of Granita at the moment – he is young, talented and speaks eloquently and with passion about his cooking style and career. In summer ask to sit on the veranda just outside the French doors of the restaurant, and in winter book a table close to the fireplace for a special treat.
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