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It’s a journey – via golf cart, glass lift and stairs – to get into chef Daniel Payne’s sophisticated domain high on the side of the Westcliff Ridge, overlooking some of Johannesburg’s priciest and oldest suburban real estate. But it’s worthwhile.
Four seasonal tasting menus – three-course, five-course, pescatarian and, unusually, a full vegetarian menu – are on offer. Whet your appetite with unusual home-made breads such as an ash-crusted sesame sourdough and a creatively presented amuse-bouche – or perhaps a bite of seared tuna floating on a jelly cracker of Chinese rice wine. Chef Payne adds light African accents and ingredients to his classic nouvelle cuisine – shredded crab, for instance, is served up in a miniature vetkoek (gwinya), the tartare is kudu, and the oak-smoked lamb loin and breast main covered with a crust of bright watercress and herbs is, naturally, from the Karoo.
Also recommended is the excellent quail porridge – a creamy barley risotto teamed with foie gras, a delicately crumbed drumstick lollipop, ceps and a fried quail egg. Or a pork belly main served with a crisp puff of crackling heirloom carrots and seared bok choy. Asian ingredients feature strongly in the vegetarian menu showcasing seasonal vegetables.
Desserts include a reimagined South African childhood-inspired combination of Ideal Milk and smoked peaches called Embers, expertly plated to delight both foodies and Instagrammers. Or try a dark chocolate delice roll, with fig puree, yoghurt and pumpkin seeds.
You could break the bank here by spending R8 500 on a local wine of superior vintage or a special French champagne, or you could choose to be introduced to some excellent local and foreign wines through the wine pairing with your chosen menu. As befits a five-star hotel with many international guests, the bar menu is expansive and expensive.
Suited waiters and sommeliers glide quietly and deftly to and from the kitchen where the chef at the pass calls out dishes for the table.
A soothing contemporary room featuring marble, sleek chrome lighting, white napery and muted tones. French windows offer vertical tranches of the view outside, while a horizontal slot window into the kitchen wall provides tantalising glimpses of food in preparation.
Impressing a date or foreign business partner dinners for the well-heeled, up-and-coming celebrities and new diamond-mine owners, as well as hand-holding honeymoon and anniversary couples.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.