Situated in the Francolin Conservation Area in Elandsfontein, Pretoria, this magnificent restaurant offers nature-inspired, seasonal tasting menus full of theatre and decadence. The restaurant came in at number seven at this year’s Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. Watch chef-patron, the lovely Chantel Dartnall, hear the news on the day.
Eat Out critic Hennie Fisher explains what makes Restaurant Mosaic so special.
Restaurant Mosaic offers three menus of varying complexity, categorised as Petite, Discovery and Grande. The menu changes to reflect the different seasons, but also to allow the kitchen to invent new ideas and perfect their execution in the intervals.
To make you feel welcome, an amuse-bouche upon arrival might be the tiniest choux puff filled with truffle cream, or a Lilliputian rice roll. Once the meal starts, expect to be blown away by the tastes, textures and sheer drama of the meal, with many dishes served or finished tableside, and in custom-designed and -manufactured crockery.
The salmon ceviche topped with caviar and gold leaf features lemon oil and buttermilk poured around it at the table. A handmade purple glass plate resembling a shell holds a lusciously plump oyster on a bed of seaweed, covered in Champagne foam, caviar, a hand-crafted ‘pearl’ and a tiny bit of crisp seaweed, and underneath the oyster, a sweet little jelly.
The aptly named Millionaire’s Nest Egg epitomises what this restaurant is about: perched on the most amazing glass bowl are three quail eggs, filled with black-truffle paste and topped with truffle espuma and some more fresh truffle shaved over the top.
The menu offers many other superb delights, such as The Alchemist’s Infusion (another theatrical device containing a number of aromatics infused in a clear broth right at the table). Dessert brings a lemon verbena plate with a delightful little opera cake or a decadent chocolate cherry dessert.
Because they understand that guests might not be able to really eat another thing after such an Olympian repast, the petits fours are packed up in little boxes to take home.
Sommelier Germain Lehodey and commis sommelier Moses Magwaza run their cellar like the captains of a large ship – no detail is overlooked. Guests can choose various options: a Connoisseur wine pairing featuring predominantly local wines, or an Enthusiast wine pairing featuring mostly international wines. They also offer a non-alcoholic drinks pairing, where you can expect such delights as a rose-and-pomegranate cooler, a pear toddy and a cherry tonka shooter. The wine list comprises two massive tomes that might flummox all but the most knowledgeable of wine lovers, but the sommeliers are always on hand to ease the process.
A few staff members have been around for years, and some new faces offer a breath of fresh air. Everyone at Mosaic is generally extraordinarily friendly and accommodating. They have dedicated people managing the bread and cheese trolleys, relaying the various options – like rosemary-and-vanilla butter, saffron-and-calendula butter, along with green olive rye, caramelised onion and thyme loaf, or cranberry pear cheese bread – with enthusiasm and a sense of fun.
Intimate and welcoming. Apart from the main dining room, there are a few smaller private dining rooms, all sumptuously decorated. Don’t be surprised if you should encounter a Pierneef or some other notable South African artwork dotted throughout. The restaurant and impressive wine cellar (more than 4000 labels; over 55 000 bottles) are on different levels, and lunching at Restaurant Mosaic on a Sunday must be one of Gauteng’s biggest treats, with beautiful views over the conservancy. They are also famous for their movie nights, when long-forgotten art movies are screened in a private movie theatre along with a gourmet meal. This is not just a restaurant, it’s a dream setting meant to whisk you away from the humdrum of every day to better places and times.
Their frequent wine tasting evenings often combine a package deal comprising accommodation and dinner at very competitive rates. What can be better than not having to worry about driving home after a night of the best food and wine in sumptuous surroundings?