Freddie Dias’ Séjour is the new kid on the fine-dining block, situated at the prestigious Houghton Hotel in Johannesburg, overlooking a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course and manicured gardens. The name means “stay” in French, the brainchild of experienced head chef Freddie Dias, who previously headed up The Pot Luck Club and, later, Basalt.
Freddie naturally has a curious spirit and wants to share his love for not only fine dining but the flavours he has experienced around the world. Bringing something new to the sometimes very conservative Joburg food scene, Freddie’s creativity is a breath of fresh air.
The menu is an eclectic yet poetic symphony of flavours with something for all palates. It is inspired by Freddie’s classic French training, his travels to the UK, years working and living in France, and his love of Asian cuisine. The menu offering is diverse, casual and accessible to lovers of good food with familiar flavours, but also some rather interesting combinations. Freddie has created something special, where people don’t have to take themselves too seriously and also don’t have to be shy to try some experimental dishes.
A fine-dining restaurant had already existed at The Houghton Hotel, but with national lockdown, the owners decided to try a fresh spin on things and open something new and exciting that wasn’t readily available in the Houghton area. Their decision to convert the sky bar into a five-star restaurant was a great task but has been received well by the public.
“This is the food I love, and I just want to share it with people. I’d like to introduce the Joburg diner to something a little different than what they’re used to. I love making good food and enjoying good food and I want to share this with the people who visit Séjour. I have a curious spirit and would love this to come across in my menu,” says Freddie.
The brief was to create a signature restaurant at the Houghton Hotel and this is exactly what Freddie Dias brought to the table, a diverse menu for the inquiring diner.
To entice the palate, you’ll be treated to a spicy amuse-bouche (which isn’t on the menu but is the chef’s treat) with beetroot ketchup, charred beetroot cubes and goat’s cheese to finish.
Next up, tuck into the beautifully designed starters. The chef’s recommendation is the crisp calamari in a lemongrass, coconut and tomato-mustard sauce, which resembles Middle Eastern flavours. The fresh West Coast oysters is another delicate starter to try.
While Freddie is not a big meat-eater himself, he has added an astounding 1.5kg T-bone steak to the menu, as he knows how fond Johannesburg diners are of meaty dishes. This is one of the standout dishes on the menu, which is meant for a very hungry patron or can be shared as a showpiece, accompanied by black garlic butter, bone marrow sauce, charred alliums and pommes pont neuf.
The list of mains is diverse – whether you’re a meat-eater or not, there is something that will appeal to you. The beef short rib, the latest addition to the menu, is fall-off-the-bone quality and an explosion of flavours: master stock, celeriac rémoulade, black garlic and mushroom purée.
The linefish dish is also a wise choice for mains: fresh Cape salmon, artichoke barigoule, chorizo, olive pangritata and artichoke velouté.
Freddie lends his expertise to the dessert menu too, which is perfected by his pastry chef. His recommendation is to be adventurous and try the interesting strawberry-and-olive dessert: goat’s cheese crémeux, candied olive and strawberry granita. This dessert will have you questioning why olives haven’t been enjoyed as a sweet treat all along.
The service is friendly and the waitrons are clued up and attentive. The sommelier, Bheki, visits your table with a bright smile on his face, sharing his passion for fine wines. Pair your chosen starter and mains with anything on the very comprehensive wine list, or ask Bheki for his recommendation. Treat yourself, why not?
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