Jodi-Ann Pearton discovers new culinary vistas at The View Restaurant at the recently reopened Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff in Johannesburg.
The View is on its way to making a name for itself in the culinary circles of South Africa. Chef Dirk Gieselmann and his team offer diners the opportunity to sample cuisine off the seasonal menu in one of three ways. You could go for three courses, four, or plump for the extensive seven-course tasting menu. (All of which have the additional option of a wine pairing.) From the very beginning of the meal, each bite is a little journey. The dishes are well thought out, with classical roots and winning flavour pairings.
Using seasonal local and international produce, chef Gieselmann puts little masterpieces together on the plate. His food is picturesque and creative, awakening the senses and leaving you wanting more.
Stand-out dishes are deceptively simple, such as smooth garden pea royale and a sweet, seared langoustine in a light almond broth served with a crisp Parma ham stick. A perfect combination of flavour and texture on a cold winter’s night. Then there’s a play on a traditional cassoulet, where the chef takes a succulent roasted quail and serves it with braised white beans dripping in rich jus, freshwater crayfish, butternut, country bacon and sage.
To end the experience, there’s a selection of international and local cheeses as well as an array of inspired desserts on offer.
Some of the wine pairings are utterly sublime, leaving you joyously overwhelmed; others, however, are totally lacking in creativity and miss the mark. The wine pairing is also overpriced for the volume of wine compared to the portion of the meal. Many of the offerings are French, and although this is interesting for some, using local wines may assist to drop the price a little. The wine list is good, with a fair selection of wines, Champagnes and both local and international offerings – as you’d expect at such an establishment. The waitrons try really hard to explain the wine with each course, but the sommelier should make an effort to visit each table.
The utterly outstanding service begins when you arrive at the hotel gate. The hosts at this newly refurbished establishment should truly be applauded. You are treated as royalty as you’re ushered up to your destination in your golf cart and received at the restaurant. Bookings are wonderfully easy to make and staff are extremely helpful. Seeming to take a slightly more casual approach than some establishments, the waitrons are nevertheless gracious and delightful from the second you arrive to the second you leave.
The View most certainly deserves its name. Arrive a little early and enjoy a glass of bubbly or a cocktail on the deck as the sun sets over Johannesburg. The horizon is lit with hues of every shade as evening begins in the city of gold. If you knew the old Westcliff, forget it all. The chic revamp by international design firm Blacksheep offers a very new and unique experience.
The Four Seasons will get over its teething problems with time as the team settles in, but know that this is not a budget meal. Sundowners on the deck are a must, and you can look forward to a few secret dishes in the chef’s repertoire that will leave you trembling they’re so good!
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