Prepare for contemporary fine dining that celebrates African flavours (with the added benefit of a new and lavish vegetarian/vegan menu dedicated to exquisite plant-based starters, mains and desserts).
Apart from the impeccable service and attention to detail, what sets the Saxon’s main restaurants apart is Sarapana, their fruit, herb and vegetable garden, from which fresh ingredients are sourced daily and used as inspiration for each of their dishes.
Who doesn’t love beautifully whipped soft butters with freshly baked bread? And who can say no to starters of rich, handsomely braised oxtail with parmesan buttered samp, bean salsa and curried chilli mango atchar, or perfectly seared scallops with octopus terrine, pickled apple and a maple turmeric vinaigrette?
For mains their signature dish, Steak Diane, is an absolute spectacle and highly recommended: a beautifully ordained ‘cooking’ trolley is presented to the table, on which fillet medallions are seared and flambéed with brandy, mushrooms and cream and served alongside luscious mashed potato and al dente garden vegetables – if you’re a lover of dinner-theatre, it’s a must. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, but no less remarkable, the seared salmon served with curried cauliflower, fennel, salsa of mussels, tomato and saffron is the perfect example of restraint and subtlety so often lacking in South African cuisine – we tend to celebrate robust flavours and sometimes forget the beauty in balancing delicate flavours.
The only disappointment was the ostrich dish: two small medallions of ostrich fillet dusted in a blend of African spices and served with a few cubes of pickled beetroot and an apricot and star anise compote – the portion was just too trivial to warrant the price tag. It’s something Qunu needs to be wary of: when some dishes appear as if ordered from an a la carte menu and others from a tasting menu, there’s something amiss.
Having said that, the desserts are a delight. Expect a fine-dining twist to traditional South African desserts like malva pudding with Amarula crème, orange mousse, charred orange and vanilla custard, and their take on Peppermint Crisp tart with a mint mousse, milk chocolate whip, vanilla frangipane and caramel.
You’ll find wine from across the globe in this carefully curated tome of a wine list. Mark-ups are steep so expect to pay for the pleasure, but Qunu’s incredible sommelier is always at hand to help you find the perfect pairing for lunch or dinner.
After a visit to the Saxon you really do feel like you’ve been on holiday: you’re driven in a luxury car to the door, you’re greeted, doors are opened, your coat is taken, your chair pulled out, a special stool is brought to the table simply to hold your handbag…the ceremony is such that you’ll feel blissful before you’ve even ordered.
Qunu offers live music every evening, which adds to the seduction of the space. There are high ceilings and soft lighting, walls covered in hanging vines and plants.
Romantic dinners and celebratory lunches.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.