What are the top ten restaurants for business meetings? Well, it’s quite simple – the country’s top ranked restaurants are the best for business, because if you’re wanting to impress a client, you want to take them somewhere great, right? Put them in a good mood with excellent service, super tasty food, and world-class wines? We knew you’d agree!
This month the South African restaurant and food guide Eat Out announced their Top 10 restaurants for 2013. Here are the top 10 winners, and we suggest treating clients (and yourself!) if you’re in the vicinity of any.
The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town once again won Restaurant of the Year, so this is clearly a toasty-hot hotspot of culinary excellence!
Restaurant owner, Luke Dale-Roberts, is one wildly experienced chap. He trained in Switzerland and England, then went and worked in restaurants in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines. “My time in Europe taught me to cook; my time in Asia broadened my horizons”, says Luke.
We say simply that we’re glad Luke has chosen to now bring his skills to South Africa!
In the words of Abigail Donnelly, Eat Out editor and competition judge, “When Luke is working closely with his team it seems more like he’s dancing with them – it’s a performance!” She also adds that his “thrilling flavours have pushed the boundaries and eating his food is simply heart-stopping.” That sure is some heady praise, and coming from a food critic nogal! (Foodies are the fussiest human specimens on the planet, FYI.)
We dare you to mess up a business deal while dining at such a sublime place.
Aside from being the second best eatery in the country, Sandton’s Five Hundred boasts David Higgs, their executive chef and winner of the Eat Out S. Pellegrino Chef of the Year award. David and his team of chefs are passionate about fresh produce, simple, flavoursome cuisine, and artistic plating. Each chef personally presents his or her prepared food to the diner.
“I believe in constantly experimenting with exciting new cooking techniques and bold flavours,” says David, “bringing in a few unexpected twists and turns as an element of surprise. I draw my inspiration from contemporary world cuisine and classical combinations as well as intriguing modern African influences”.
The Five Hundred is the epitome of fine dining – rock up without booking and you’re begging a ‘look’ from the host. Open evenings, Monday to Saturday, diners enjoy an extremely elegant setting with a view of the night skyline. This is the sort of place you take clients when you want to convey an unambiguous message, viz.: I’m stinking successful, so stick with me.
If you want to go BIG, the Five Hundred has now joined forces with Ruinart Champagne to provide guests with the option of enjoying the hautiest of haute culture – experience the blissful intersection of food, wine and art at the private Chef’s Table, where you look into the open-plan kitchen and see where and how the magic is produced.
(Note: If you muff up a deal in this blessed environment, reassess your calling.)
The Rust en Vrede is a wine estate restaurant in Stellenbosch that has rather a lot going for it – it won the Service Excellence award and its sommelier Joakim Hansi Blackadder won the Wine Service award. Clearly, there is some seamless filling of wineglasses happening at this place!
John Shuttleworth, head chef, trained in England in classical French cuisine. He and his hard-working team aim to give guests a truly relaxed experience – plush chairs, beautiful restful views of the estate, and excellent service (headed by Andrea, John’s wife) are combined with fresh produce, a world-class menu and an equally world-class wine list, which is structured according to origin so as to showcase SA’s diversity.
If this wasn’t enough, the Rust en Vrede has a ‘cheese chariot’ – this is a cheese trolley, but any establishment with the good sense to elevate its cheese trolley to chariot status is a place you can trust.
“The pairing of food and wine is what we really do well,” says John, and Eat Out clearly agrees. We’re confident you will too!
The Greenhouse at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel is an intimate, sophisticated restaurant in the beautiful Constantia Valley. Cape Town’s first Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Peter Tempelhoff, together with his dedicated team, use locally sourced produce (plus some grown in the hotel garden) to render regional flavours with modern interpretations. Their philosophy is clearly one of local is lekker, though we imagine they themselves express it with a touch more refinement.
The restaurant at Hartford House is a timeless affair set in KZN’s gorgeous green Midlands. ‘In season’ and ‘local’ are the bywords of the establishment. On offer are breakfast, lunch, picnics, snacks and dinner. So instead of the usual business dinner you could perhaps opt for a romantic business picnic? No? A little on the weird side? Well, fortunately the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are mightily appealing too, so we recommend a relaxing meal on the veranda overlooking the award-winning gardens.
The Jordan Restaurant with George Jardin (we’re digging the ring in the names) is part of the Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. It’s open for lunch from Monday to Sunday and then there is a four-course dinner menu on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Local produce, beautifully plated food and panoramic views make for an elegant, understated experience.
Stellenbosch really mops up when it comes to award-winning restaurants. Overture, located within the Hidden Valley Wine Estate, is however a more casual affair than its neighbours. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant’s chef, Bertus Basson, is known for his bold, abundantly flavourful dishes.
Camphors at Vergelegen is a Somerset West success story. It was named after the magnificent camphor trees that were planted on the estate in 1700. Expect a classy interior, a large patio overlooking the Vergelegen lawns and gardens, fine but simple cuisine, and classic wine varietals from the estate. As refined as it all is, you can nonetheless look forward to a decidedly unfussy vibe.
The Tasting Room in Le Quartier Français, Franschoek, is a funky establishment of grey, crimson and acid green. Every day heralds a completely new, African inspired menu, so what you eat will be a surprise every time. The part that won’t be a surprise is that you can be sure to love it! Expect local, in season produce of course. Dinner is an 8-course meal, therefore pace yourself – these little courses sneak up on you and before you know it you’re full, and full people don’t have space for desserts like a coconut dome with honeybush, baobab and caramel. Missing out on such treats would be tragic!
The Pierneef à La Motte is another Top 10 restaurant in Franschoek. (Lucky Franschoek!) The gorgeous interior with its unique cream-coloured chairs and ceramic hanging lampshades is reason enough to visit, but of course there’s far more on offer than just beautiful décor. There’s also a menu offering South African fine cuisine with a modern interpretation, and you’ll be eating at one of the country’s finest wine estates, so expect some sumptuous food-and-wine pairings.
If you’re dining at any of these restaurants on a business date and things become a tad shaky, we offer you this little conversational filler: “Did you know we’re eating at one of South Africa’s Top 10 restaurants? You didn’t? Well, we are!” Hopefully that will lead to some chatter, but if not, rather an impressed awkward silence than a run-of-the-mill awkward silence!