The Michelin Guide has yet to stretch to South Africa, but the fine dining scene in its major cities is unquestionably on the rise. The country’s unique mix of cultures and a wealth of fertile land has inspired inventive cuisine not seen anywhere else on earth.
South Africa’s restaurants may not be eligible for Michelin stars, but here we list four that would certainly be in the running.
The Test Kitchen
The Test Kitchen was the only African restaurant to be included in Elite Traveler’s Top 100 Restaurants in the World, finishing 46th in the 2018 results. Housed in an old biscuit mill in Cape Town’s trendy Woodstock, it has long been regarded as the continent’s best restaurant.
Head chef Luke Dale-Roberts is behind its success. He has opened a number of successful restaurants across the world, but, as the name suggests, The Test Kitchen has been the scene of his most daring dishes.
Dale-Roberts specializes in pairing ingredients and flavors that a traditionalist would never serve together. Guests embark on an 18-course sensory experience beginning in the Light Room and moving into the Dark Room with a mixture of traditional fare and creative small plates.
The tiny beachside restaurant in the village of Paternoster stormed into the limelight earlier this year when it took top prize at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in Paris.
It was the culinary underdog story of the year: the restaurant’s six staff had no formal training when it opening in 2016 and can only feed 20 people per sitting.
Head chef Kobus van der Merwe makes use of the lush West Cape by foraging daily for ingredients along the seashore. The menu is everchanging as a result, but his philosophy of interfering with the produce as little as possible remains the same.
La Petite Colombe
La Petite Colombe originally opened as the little sister restaurant of the legendary La Colombe, but under the guidance of talented young chef John Norris-Rogers, it has in many people’s eyes risen to greater heights.
Norris-Rogers cut his teeth under the La Colombe’s chef-restaurateur Scot Kirton, but has become a culinary star in his own right with outstanding classic French food. The main show is the Gourmand Menu, an eight-course taster that presents South Africa’s bountiful produce in all its glory. A Reduced Menu and Vegetarian Menu are also available.
The wine menu is also an exclusively South African affair. All of the wines are South Africa including three from Franschhoek, where the restaurant is based.
Mosaic at The Orient
Pretoria’s The Orient Hotel is considered to be one of South Africa’s most opulent properties. There are many reasons to stay at the hotel but many come to experience the in-house Restaurant Mosaic.
Head chef Chantel Dartnall is the genius behind the wonderfully diverse fare, which is always served in spectacular fashion. The Grande Degustation menu begins with beautifully-designed small plates such as ‘duck liver mi cuit, quince and hibiscus’.
The restaurant also boasts one of the most extensive wine cellars in South Africa, containing some of the most exclusive vintages to hail from the region. Once you’ve feasted on excellent food and wine, you can retreat to one of the hotel’s spacious suites.