The thought of students cooking you dinner might be daunting for some, but rest assured, a meal at Prue Leith Chef’s academy restaurant is delightful from start to finish. The students are in charge of service and all food preparation, as well as doing the menu planning. It is clear that they are exposed to the very best ingredients and techniques because the menu promises everything you would expect from a modern fine dining establishment.
The curried kabeljou soup is a delicate and luscious start to the meal. The curried veloute poured table-side is perfectly spiced and seasoned and the kabeljou beautifully cooked.
The blue cheese, leek and biltong risotto was incredibly flavoursome although too al dente. For mains, expect a well-planned list of delicious dishes including a hearty vegetarian option in the form of creamy polenta with roasted mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, finished with Parmesan cheese. The Asian-style Mauritian sea bass was well-cooked and well-flavoured, served with stir-fried vegetables and a soy dressing. The chicken galantine was well-cooked and flavoursome but overall the main dishes are somewhat underwhelming, albeit perfectly plated. They are truly works of art.
The dessert menu is absolutely a winner, with every option delivering on every promise. The pastry chefs are excellent and their desserts are works of art. The apple tarte tatin with salted caramel ice cream was one of the best (if not the very best) desserts I’ve had this year. The apple was perfectly caramelised and beautifully cooked, the pastry was buttery and flaky and the subtly salted caramel ice cream the perfect accompaniment. It took every bit of self-control not to lick my plate.
The “Textures of chocolate” was equally impressive. A twirl of flexible chocolate ganache is served with caramel and milk chocolate mousse, roasted and aerated white chocolate, and candied hazelnuts. Truly, “textures of chocolate” is the perfect name for this dish. And although it might sound like it could all be too much, this dish is so well-balanced. Every bite is a delight.
The wine list is extensive and very well put together. The majority of the wine list is comprised of South African wine farms and includes an “interesting varietals” section as well as a section dedicated to organic and bio-dynamic wines. Towards the end of the list you will find a few international wines from Italy, France, Spain and Australia. They also have a decent list of wines available by glass.
As the students handle all the service themselves, there are a few nervous moments here and there (understandably), but they do an excellent job overall, from suggesting wines to have with your meal to flambeing your Crêpes Suzette tableside.
The restaurant is set on the chef academy grounds in a beautiful, classic building. The interior is elegantly decorated and an exquisite fireplace keeps things cosy on cold winter evenings. During the warmer months, al fresco seating is available.
It was a most enjoyable experience. It's very promising to see our future culinary stars producing such excellent food.
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