Luke Dale-Roberts’s Joburg outpost is headed up by Candice Philip, who led the restaurant to a nomination at the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. The food is beautifully sculpted but without any fuss. Ingredients are seasonal, and there are no extraneous garnishes or techniques.
The meal kicks off with a combined bread and amuse-bouche course: salmon mousse served with croissant truffle bread, potato-and-onion wafers, winter leek butter, milk bread and dried kale. Next comes sea bass tartare served with pickled shimeji, lovage pesto and a delicious garlic catalan, and a white bean potage served tableside with sweet potato, smoked mussel, quinoa and wild garlic oil.
The seared beef with radish, tatsoi, apple mustard and mustard crème is so delicious, you’ll be tempted to mop up your plate with nuggets of bread.
Mains offer a choice between baby chicken with langoustine, parsnip and toasted parmesan ‘risotto’ or venison with coffee flavours, butternut and marigold. It is followed by a delightful grapefruit sorbet with grapefruit cells and liquid liquorice. Dessert presented a choice between a dish called Dill and Coconut or a guava delice, with white chocolate fondant and halva ice cream.
Those who are lucky enough to have eaten at The Test Kitchen will notice echoes in the smoked lamb dish and the Pot Luck tataki, but the ambience here is a little more modern
One can choose between three different beverage pairings with the two menus: a tea pairing, a local wine pairing or an international wine pairing. The wines are extremely competently chosen to complement the food, and sommelier William Riffel is extremely knowledgeable about the pairings.
As expected, waiters are competent and friendly, and look good in their floral shirts, bow ties and suspenders. Menus are two narrow cards on clipboards and all the serving staff members are very much engaged in the menu options and the various aspects of service and presentation.
The new look of Luke Dale Roberts X The Saxon is warm, inviting and all-around engaging. Large windows overlook the dark canopy of trees and you can easily imagine yourself being on the 30th floor of a stylish New York or Hong Kong restaurant. Wood panelling, sea-green carpets, upholstered chairs and framed botanicals create an elegant but comfortable ambience. It’s a pleasure to watch Candice Philip comfortable and in charge behind the large open serving table that runs almost the entire length of the restaurant.
There is a private room behind the kitchen in which you can book a large table, which creates the feeling of dining in the kitchen. The large glass-walled wine cellar also operates from here, and the kitchen has the ability to be slightly more engaged with diners.
See all 30 of the nominees for the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards here and the Top 10 here.