My favourite 2014 Eat Out Restaurant Awards nominees

With the Eat Out Mercedes- Benz Restaurant Awards around the corner, I though I’ll share my favourites of the 20 nominees with you (and one I hope to see on the list soon). In no particular order:

The Vineyard: Jordan Restaurant

There are so many great vineyard restaurants in the Cape Winelands, and I cannot tell you exactly why Jordan is my favourite on the list. Perhaps it is the relaxed atmosphere; perhaps it is their To Die For homemade aioli (it took more than a little restraint not to eat it with a spoon straight out of the dish); perhaps it is the excellent wines from their own vineyards that complement the food so well; or perhaps it is because I shared one of the most wonderful meals there with dear friends from very far away. Regardless, Jordan is my favourite vineyard restaurant among the nominees. Expect traditional quality ingredients (like Saldahna Bay mussles and Chalmar beef) with a modern twist and great presentation.

Jordan Restaurant

Salad of seared Kroon duck, grilled peach, pepper crumble, celeriac chantilly and watercress

Salad of seared Kroon duck, grilled peach, pepper crumble, celeriac chantilly and watercress

Compose your own cheese platter in the walk-in cheese room

Compose your own cheese platter in the walk-in cheese room

The Full Circle: The Restaurant at Waterkloof

Nature plays the leading role at Waterkloof; from the tasting room and restaurant where the surrounding nature (vineyards, mountains and the sea) visually enters into the spacious building through impossibly big windows, to the carefully composed meals made from local, sustainably farmed and seasonal products.  At Waterkloof, the wine is produced according to biodynamic principles and chef Czarnecki follows the same principles in the kitchen. The 5-course tasting menu (paired with the vineyard’s own wines of course) is always an excellent choice; it is a visual as much as a sensory experience!

Waterkloof Restaurant

Conoglio Rabbit Rillettes with rhubarb relish and pickles

Conoglio Rabbit Rillettes with rhubarb relish and pickles

Pannacotta, lavender merengue and fruits of the forest

Pannacotta, lavender meringue and seasonal berries

The Cool Kid: Pot Luck Club

Perched at the top of the Silo at the Old Biscuit Mill with stunning views of Cape Town, chef Dale-Roberts’ tapas style restaurant is all the rage right now. Expect a hip crowd, hustle and bustle; and seriously innovative tapas. Oh, and a waiting list of about 6 months! The menu is split into 5 sections: salty, sweet, umami, sour and bitter, plus dessert. Tick off what you like, then sit back and enjoy as the kitchen sends the little dishes out in the order that they recommend (from lightest to heaviest). Don’t miss the ever popular Pot Luck Club Fish Tacos, and for something new try the tails and chips: pig’s tails with a sweet crust, polenta chips and a smokey dip.

Pot Luck Club Fish Tacos

Pot Luck Club Fish Tacos

Tails and chips

Tails and chips

Asian style beef tartare

Asian style beef tartare

The Most Stylish Affair: Five Hundred at the Saxon

The Saxon is a perfect example of the saying that class does not shout; it whispers. From the moment you enter into the grand lobby, through to being whisked upstairs in a private elevator and the special stand that is put out for your handbag, Five Hundred at the Saxon makes you feel like royalty. The service is immaculate; the food is like a work of art; and the wine list exclusive. It also appeals to me that chef Higgs designs the menu around what is in season in his organic vegetable garden, rather than around the protein which is usually the case. Heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers play a big role in both flavor and presentation. This is without a doubt one of the most amazing restaurant experiences in South Africa!

Poached marron, cured speck and winter vegetables

Poached marron, cured speck and winter vegetables

Confit pork, crackling, smoked honey cream, banana, red cabbage & salted nuts

Confit pork, crackling, smoked honey cream, banana, red cabbage & salted nuts

Impeccable style and service

Impeccable style and service

The Challenger: La Mouette

In a beautiful old house, once belonging to the Mayor of Cape Town, lies Seapoint’s very own fine dining gem: La Mouette. In summer, the beautiful courtyard with a fountain centerpiece is a wonderful oasis, and in winterthe magic happens in the small, cozy rooms with creaky wooden floorboards and open fireplaces. Although La Mouette’s menu is classy fine dining, the ambiance is that of a local village hangout; relaxed and familiar. The cuisine is inspired by southern France, and is expertly paired with locally produced fine wines. The most popular choice is the seasonal tasting menu. Not surprising, given the mouthwatering selection, and the fabulous value for money. This is the first time La Mouette is nominated for the Eat Out Restaurant Awards, and I really hope to see it in the top 10!

Beetroot salad, goats cheese, candied walnuts, beetroot ravioli, sumac and hazelnut dressing

Beetroot salad, goats cheese, candied walnuts, beetroot ravioli, sumac and hazelnut dressing

Mushroom soup, parmesan hazelnut crust, cheese & truffle croquette and mushroom jelly

Mushroom soup, parmesan hazelnut crust, cheese & truffle croquette and mushroom jelly

"Fish pie"; hake, mustard mash, leek ash, mussels, sea foam, leek & potato sauce

“Fish pie”; hake, mustard mash, leek ash, mussels, sea foam, leek & potato sauce

On My Wish List: Priva Gastronomic Lounge

Pretoria’s newest babe is a classy jazz lounge, complete with fine dining; a champagne & oyster bar; a walk-in cigar humidor and a separate cigar lounge. After just a few months of operation, the restaurant is already attracting big numbers of foodies and lovers of other fine things in life. The menu changes monthly, and features lots of little taster-size dishes of both traditional and innovative combinations. Priva is the perfect fusion of a fine dining restaurant and a sexy jazz lounge, and I really hope to see it on the nominee list in the future!

Scallops, elder flower, granny smith and wasabi

Scallops, elder flower, granny smith and wasabi

Kabeljou, nasturtium, white anchovy, horseradish, apple and celery

Kabeljou, nasturtium, white anchovy, horseradish, apple and celery

Foie gras, gooseberry, pork cheek and chili

Foie gras, gooseberry, pork cheek and chili

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