Launched in 2012 as a revision of the former presidential suite, Five Hundred was conceptualised as a fine dining experience that would distinguish the Saxon Hotel in Sandton as being above the norm. Seeing the role of the contemporary chef as one of “creative director”, executive chef David Higgs, Eat Out’s reigning Chef of the Year, has conceived the restaurant as a multi-sensory experiential journey.
The food and wine become “modernist experimental” art under David’s direction, with assistance from head chef Candice Philip. Although high-quality local ingredients are considered essential – with many greens sourced directly from the restaurant’s own roof garden – there is an alchemical and aesthetic transformation that means, for instance, a salmon dish might be plated as a Ndebele beading creation.
The restaurant is painted entirely black. While guests may find it seriously dramatic on first impression, the reasoning becomes clear once they’re seated: against the classic white linen and Dibbern crockery with elegant Sommelier Riedel glassware, the food becomes star of the show. The space was designed in collaboration with interior designer Stephen Falcke and the clattering open kitchen in the middle is key to the edgy-but-personal look and feel.