This past December /January holidays I decided to stay in South Africa and show my family where I live. My aunt and uncle flew in to spend 3 weeks here and of course wanted to see and experience as much as possible. South Africa has a lot to offer. Besides a beautiful scenery and landscape there is definitely a vast choice of excellent restaurants with creative menus and amazing wines. Knowing that my family are gourmets, I was quite surprised by their excitement about the South African restaurant landscape which they ended up calling one of the best although it didn’t really start off well.
I booked Christmas lunch at the Cradle Restaurant in the Cradle of Humankind just outside Johannesburg. Having been there twice before I was never disappointed. So, I gathered friends and family and booked a table about two months in advance. The view and the location is still spectacular.. but that’s about it! The food was below average, the service was bad and a friend of mine found a caterpillar in her rocket salad.. Last but not least, the waiter gave about 100Rand change to little.. of course, out of mistake!!!
It could only get better.. and it did. Especially in Cape Town. Proof enough that Cape Town is the better place to eat out? Maybe.
First stop in Cape Town was Five Flies. Situated in a national monument the atmosphere is already worth going. The food was delicious, the wine could even impress my Spanish wine loving uncle. We ended up with a five course meal and had an evening full of laughter and fun.
The next top-notch restaurant was Aubergine, run by a German chef and located in the historical part of Gardens it was in the German media shortly before my family’s trip and therefore on their wish list. We were lucky that other guests cancelled their reservations, so we got a last-minute call to confirm our booking. Brilliant wine pairing with delicious food was the outcome. The evening included a first for me. First time I had Abalone. Not quite sure what to think of it yet (on that note.. I actually once read a book in which they murdered for it, so maybe that was still stuck in my mind).
One of the most anticipated eat-outs was Reuben’s in Cape Town. Reuben Riffel is one of South Africa’s most liked chefs. His restaurant “Reuben'”s in Franschhoek well-known and famous for its creative cuisine. When I heard that he had just opened his first urban restaurant in the luxurious One&Only in Cape Town, I decided to book a table for uncle’s 50th birthday celebration. Situated right next to Nobu’s (world-class master chef Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa’s first African restaurant), I wasn’t sure if I made the right choice. All doubts vanished as we go there! They loved it. The interior, the menu and… the sommelier. Very knowledgable and a sales talent! He managed to sell us a more expensive chardonnay for starters then the red wine for main. I was told before that Chardonnay tastes like butter, but I was never able to get my taste buds trained enough. I think with this one, no taste buds need to be trained… it just tastes like… well, butter. If you feel like testing or tasting: Glen Carlou, Quartz Stone. Back to the restaurant experience. It was almost keeping up to the expectations, except that they didn’t give us enough time to finish our sorbet between second and third course.. maybe something to look past, given all the other positive experiences.
Final verdict: South Africa and especially Cape Town surprises tourists by its density of great restaurants.