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Les Créatifs may have a French name, and chef Wandile Mabaso may be trained in the classical French style, but what you’ll find at this Sandton hotspot is a menu that uses haute cuisine techniques to showcase proudly South African food and flavour.
Mabaso’s international experience includes working alongside chefs at Michelin-star restaurants in New York and Paris – and it shows. The four-course tasting menu (with a choice of two or three options per course) is a showcase of his imagination, attention to detail and dedication to prioritising flavour, with consideration given to providing textural interest, too.
Case in point: the Kurgersdorp beef tongue option to start. Cooked in beef broth for eight hours at exactly 75–80C, this meat could not be more tender or have a better flavour intensity. It’s then crusted with toasted fennel seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns, sliced and finished on the grill, and served with ox liver, marrow, chakalaka-and-potato purée, melon atchar, and imphepho-smoked beef jus with a mirror-like sheen. Highlights to follow include fall-off-the-bone-tender garam masala duck confit with a star-anise carrot purée, naartjie gastrique, beetroot-pickled daikon, red-onion chutney and a sorghum cracker; goat braised for eight hours in a bespoke Cape Malay spice mix and served with purple sweet potato, okra, lemon-confit goat cheese and basil; and the visual feast that is the Tanzanian coffee-bean sculpture dessert. The four-course tasting menu will set you back R950 per diner, which feels like good value for this level of experiential dining. There’s also a vegetarian and vegan option, so nobody’s left out. Menus are updated every few weeks according to seasonality of ingredients, meaning you always have a good excuse to return.
Given the wealth of choice in the local wine industry, it’s not every day you find a wine pairing that includes French producers. With that in mind, the R1750 per head cost for the tasting menu with wine pairing feels like a reasonable treat. Or you could really get into the spirit(s) of things and try the cocktail pairing, at R1450 per person.
Service at Les Créatifs is well timed and the waiting staff are knowledgeable and efficient. The cherry on top, however, is the chef himself making a point of coming to explain each dish in precise detail.
Culinary artistry is not the only créativité you’ll find here: the walls are adorned with a rotating curation of local artwork, ranging in price from a few thousand rand to more than a million. The interior is relatively intimate, with few tables. They’ve got the acoustics right too – you can enjoy a tête-à-tête, even seated between the kitchen and a large party.