Ambience★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Service★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Food★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Coming in at number two in this year’s Top 10, this restaurant is a special treat. The experience begins with welcoming drinks and not just one amuse bouche, but two, and a fantastic bread trolley with gluten- and lactose-free breads (careful attention is given to special dietary needs). They’re accompanied by no less than five flavoured butters, ranging from plain salted to butternut-and-calendula and honey-and-cinnamon.
Before the eating begins in earnest, expect several other mini artworks to amaze all your senses, the most invigorating of which is an arugula-and-lemonade shooter to cleanse the palate. The current menu is named Tabula Rasa, and kicks off with a snail and slightly spicy cauliflower-and-corn mousse. Next is a dish entitled Tidal Pool, which is playful and satisfying. Goose-liver spheres encased in Brussels sprout leaves are served with a velvety cauliflower purée perfumed with truffle. This dish is followed by Sea Mist, which features a fat and tender scallop and an East-Coast lobster tail enrobed in a saffron froth, which has everyone in the restaurant in delight.
The mains options vie for first place. There’s the smoked venison with madumbi mash, duck with plum and suurvygies, and a tilapia-and-halibut duo cleverly called Where the River Meets the Sea. Cheese is always a treat here and may include a 36-month-old French Comté, or a goat’s cheese from a Johannesburg artisan with a small herd of goats.
When it comes to dessert, you could opt for a sophisticated pear filled with white chocolate and a fluttering of dried pear ‘leaves’ perfumed with tonka bean, aptly named First Frost. SmartTease is a tongue-in-cheek play on everyone’s favourite candies, comprising chocolate, many colourful mini macarons and a pistachio ice-cream cone.
Moses Magwaza and Germain Lehodey comprise the passionate team in charge of all the beverages served at Restaurant Mosaic. Moses took the Wine Service Award at the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. The wine and non-alcoholic pairings are done with the same verve as everything else in this establishment. The team has decided to replace the local and international option with a sommelier’s wine-pairing option, giving guests the chance to sample a fantastic selection of local and international wines.
The front-of-house team took the Eat Out Service Excellence Award in 2017 too. The team rarely changes and the result is that the overall service is faultless – efficient and most engaging. One needs only show a little interest for the entire team to share the pleasure they derive from their trade. It is a rare treat to find as much pleasure from service perfection as one does at this restaurant.
Although the restaurant is relatively small, it can expand to various other levels of the building. At the back, past the kitchen, there’s a smaller private room with its own little lounge, as well as a larger private room off the main dining area. Banquettes and small tables line the two main rooms, which are always inviting and well-presented. Mosaic has established itself as a destination. For those who can afford to stay over, there are rooms available, which adds to the enjoyment.
Chantel Dartnall is a master at cooking protein. Whether she cooks tilapia or scallops, she is bound to make it taste its very best. Even though the food displays an undeniable delicate sensibility in both preparation and presentation, no one needs to fear leaving hungry, as Chantel knows how to cook food that satisfies on all levels.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.
From the first moment you enter The Orient hotel, you’re transported to another world – one rich with oriental antiques, lush fabrics and enticing aromas.
Chef Chantel Dartnall’s food is so at home in this elaborate establishment it’s almost hard to imagine the one without the other, but it’s quite clear that no other food will work here. Her impeccable style of plating, executed with perfection, is only outdone by the absolute deliciousness of the food. Every bite is filled with concentrated flavour and texture, and the way she plays with temperature is simply delightful. A piping-hot courgette velouté surrounding an icy mixture of fresh-as-can-be asparagus, broad beans and fava-bean mousse is one good example. The velouté, velvety smooth in texture, is also a great contrast to the al dente vegetables. So playful and so perfect.
Another showstopper is the Irish scallop served with a delicate yet intense maritime broth and pickled radishes. The broth is served in a siphon contraption of sorts, and is infused on the table with lemongrass and seaweed in a process that fills the room with the smell of the ocean. This broth is then poured over the perfectly seared scallop – it really is a dish to write home about.
L’Oie Doree sees slow-roasted goose breast served with goose-liver tortellini, candied clementine peel and a rich, robust sauce that ties the whole dish together. Similarly, Autumn Leaves is a beautiful serving of 36-day matured Angus beef, perfectly cooked and served with crispy sweetbreads, mushrooms, deep-fried celeriac leaves and cognac cream, all complemented by a full-flavoured, glossy sauce.
To end your meal, the enchanting Recipe for Romance sounds simple on paper, but is so much more. Chantel explains that for her, the perfect romantic evening is accompanied by your loved one cooking with you. This is translated to a DIY cake, which is brought to the table looking like a simple bowl filled with flour, cubes of butter and sugar, a chocolate bar and a raw egg yolk. In fact, what you are looking at is a slice of almond cake, ground almonds, coconut marshmallow, passion-fruit parfait, mango purée and 55% Valrhona chocolate, all accented by the Love Potion of a sweet, rose syrup which adds a touch of whimsy to the dish.
The meal is finally finished with a wonderful selection of petit fours consisting of the teeniest macarons, perfect Turkish delight, and dense, chocolatey brownies.
It’s not a mere list of wines; it’s an entire enormous book, filled with every name you can imagine, all carefully selected by sommelier Germain Lehodey. But let that not overwhelm you; Monsieur Lehodey is always at hand to make expert recommendations. Allow him to take you through a journey of excellently paired wines; alternatively, enjoy your meal paired with creative non-alcoholic options like home-made nasturtium lemonade and Gyokuro shaded green tea from Japan.
Every element is excellent, from the greeting at the front gate to the service during the meal. Staff are all incredibly well trained, friendly and professional. It is a delight to be taken through the menu by chef Chantel, and the sommeliers and serving staff complement her in their charming, informative way. The exquisite food is made more enticing by a team of staff who are clearly incredibly passionate about their work.
The restaurant is set in the lush Orient Hotel in Elandsfontein. With its rich tapestries and gorgeous oriental antiques, you would be forgiven for thinking you have been whisked away on a magic carpet. The restaurant itself is decorated in a grandiose manner and has an air of luxurious old-world charm.
Prepare to be dazzled by every element of your experience at this incredible establishment. To top things off, book a night in one of the opulent rooms of The Orient.
Eat Out critics arrive unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.