Top 5 Distinctive South African Restaurants Every Foodie Has to Try in 2019

I spent an insurmountable amount of time satiating my incessant hunger for new taste experiences, as a food  lifestyle blogger in 2018.

It was thee most enjoyable and arduous task – a feat of diligent dedication for my digestive tract, which did not falter not once.

The journey to discover more of the worlds finest flavor & texture combinations, took me further than I had ever ventured beyond my narrow mouth cavern, and ofttimes, even took me across the continent.

I have had exuberant newbies to the industry, deliver lauded knockout fusions, while seasoned kitchen maestros invigorated the plateaued popularity of the restaurants they claim residency.

These are a few of the most distinctive dining experiences you should travel to indulge in:

The Refined Taste Seduction

I had the pleasure of visiting this particular locale twice, and would blow my pittance of a monthly food budget, to return to nirvana once more.

Nestled within the luxurious embrace of Majeka House & Spa, the decade-old Makaron restaurant honestly represents some of the finest fine dining South Africa has ever deigned to bless the food world with.

Under the deft hand of chef Lucas Carstens, and owners Karine and Lloyd, Makaron has crafted a masterclass of superb service, decor & haute cuisine, which recently got awarded at the 2018 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards.

When last I visited, I got acquainted with their new menu, which blends Makaron‘s inescapable international flamboyance with literal home-grown excellence.

Diners are privy to Makaron‘s design insistence on small plates, so as to enjoy more well-rounded and diverse taste adventures – ostentatiously showing off the kitchens capabilities optimally!

The airs of Chef Lucas’s latest travels to the Mediterranean’s Lisbon, can be tasted through the sublime seafood dining plated at Makaron.

The restaurant is not averse to promoting fellow local businesses and greater seafood traceability, using the digital seafood platform ‘Abalobi’ to empower small-scale fishers and diners with the knowledge.

Tel: (+27)021 880 1549

Email: reservations@majekahouse.co.za

Address: 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch

The Vegan Savants

Food & Lifestyle have experienced a crazy and extensive evolution in the past 3 years; Theirs is a marriage of necessity to humanity’s perpetual self-destruction – whether positive or negative, is entirely up for debate.

Balducci is a 21-year-old restaurant in Cape Town’s scenic and busy Victoria & Alfred Waterfront mall. After so long in the game, devoted to redefining how diners understand good ‘home cooked’ grub, Balducci erred on the side of modernity, by producing one of the most extensive Vegan menus ever seen in the country.

Passionate carnivore though I am, I got to sample nearly everything from this Vegan Menu, and can testify to it being a bold menu with riveting genteel flavors & texture combinations.

Balducci‘s menu already bears a sympathy for European sensibilities with its elegant balance of quality and options; but it is their Vegan menu which redefines “the essence of good home cooked food”, truly realizing the restaurants commitment to supporting more sustainable organic agriculture.

Tel: (+27)421 6002/3

Email: contact@slickrestaurants.com

Address: : Shop 6162, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

The Precipice of Foodie Nirvana

There are some restaurants which feel so far out ones league, that they don’t even register on pages 1-3 of your Google search.

Indochine Restaurant feels like one of those restaurants you’ve got to court, with distinction & class, before enjoying; So perfect is their carefully curated Afro-Asian culinary experience, and idyllic is their Botmaskop Mountain location, that I entered the Delaire Graff Estate with frenetic energy and nervous awe.

FYI: If anyone has watched the 2018 blockbuster success ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, I can confirm that the entrance to where this restaurant is located, is similar in its picturesque state & security, to the grandmothers party-hosting home.

Indochine has imaginative new dishes, prepared with precision flavors you wouldn’t believe are plated for mere mortals.

Executive chef Virgil Kahn, endowed with the kind of artful French European & South African cooking chops that render him a hot restaurant commodity, returned from his culinary adventures in Southeast Asia, to whip up an incredibly tasty Asian-Influenced menu at Indochine Restaurant.

I am a fan of the incredible decor here, with its copper and deep blue color palette, and features such as 1000 swallows swirling above diners heads in an incredible art installation display, by South Africa;s Lionel Smit & Andre Stead.

If for no other reason than a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic experience, visit Indochine to enjoy chef Virgil’s new signature (and complex!) dish with a twist: “an escabeche of tuna lightly cured in a ginger-chilli pickling liquid, served with salmon and ginger floss, caviar, Thai basil, caramelised onion and garlic.”

Tel: (+27)021 885 8160

Email: guest.relations@delaire.co.za

Address: Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Rd, Stellenbosch, 7600

The Ambrosia Refinery

Not every foodie experience begins with plated yum-yum’s right in front of you.

Sometimes there is merit to understanding what else creates magic in your mouth beyond hardy basic ingredients and spices.

Tokara is one such place where visitors taste journey begins with vines – not grapes singularly, but four hectares of acclaimed olives too.

Tokara has a state-of-the-art extraction plant with all the fixings, which results in sought-after classification of their boutique produced olive oil range.

I was never really concerned with oil and its nuanced differences, nor how particularly aromatic it may be; but I got to learn a multitude of things about activating taste buds, and getting the best flavors out of food you’re cooking, with something as simple as olive oil choices.

There’s different olive oil flavors – who’d have thunk?!

“Tokara’s range of oils brings out the flavour in food, it intensifies and enhances all of the other ingredients in the dish, and so key is to match the right oil with the right ingredients. Visitors to Tokara can discover their favourite oil every day of the week, with complimentary tastings of all five oils available at both the wine-tasting centre and the Tokara Delicatessen. Guests visiting the estate during harvest season may also enjoy the unique opportunity to sample oil fresh from the press in true Italian style.”

Tokara has a terroir-focused restaurant to visit, 400 meters above sea level, and in the experienced hands of farm-inclined chef Carolize Coetzee.

While on the premises, I got to enjoy the range of olive oil Tokara produces, with/in dishes like: Lemon olive oil cake, Roasted Chicken Breast, and Wood oven-roasted mushrooms with root vegetable puree, spinach, peppered salami, anchovy, and truffle dressing.

Visit Tokara for the ‘good wine, good food, and good art’ – Sometimes it’s that simple!

Tel: (+27)21 885 2550

Email: reservations@tokara.com

Address: Tokara Wine Estate, off R310 Helshoogte Road, Banhoek Valley, Stellenbosch, 7600

The Nature of it All

Cape Town’s Clifton Beach may still be experiencing an influx of visitors, relaxing in the dredges of the festive season, so why not head a little higher for some piece and the same views?

As an avid ‘laze about’ sort of foodie explorer, I marvel at any sort of eatery which gears itself to that primarily.

The Lawns at The Roundhouse, is one such sprawling establishment, not at all shy about reeling you in for chilled all-day affairs in a mountainside hamlet laden with bistro-style furnishings, in spacious deck areas and terraces.

My friends and I are usually pressed to find a place big enough, affordable enough, and stunning enough to satisfy our significant numbers, but The Lawns has a set-up that checks all the boxes…and then some!

Breakfast spreads with a view? Check!

Lunches with friends? Check!

Picnic baskets with gourmet benefits? Check!

Cocktail Sundowners on a whim? Check!

The stellar Atlantic Ocean view at The Lawns, is matched only by the wide-ranging à la carte menu and its prices & the unending fountains of cocktails, craft beer and award-winning wines listed.

Head to The Lawns at The Roundhouse website for all the latest specials and such…

Tel: (+27)021 438 4347

Email: info@thelawnsct.co.za

Address: Round House Rd, Camps Bay, Cape Town, 8005

The Urban Outfitter

There is more Italian authenticity at this restaurant, than an American-Italian emphatically shouting “Fo’ ge’ abou’ i!” in New York City.

Bocca is a Cape Town foodie favorite, helped along significantly by its ideal location on world-renowned gourmet boulevard, a.k.a Bree Street.

It is not hipster hype alone which has hungry hoards pattering in and passed upscale eateries, along this street.

Cape Town was given the Conde Nast Traveler ‘Best Food Cities in the World Right Now award, while Bree Street is celebrated by Vogue, as Cape Towns Coolest Block.

Bocca is smack-dab in the middle of it, and has been enjoyed as the best CBD pizza stop during evening establishment hoppings…the pizza being made in 90 seconds|450°F, within the outstanding, imported Acunto oven.

Newly revamped into green tiled | brown leather urban earthyness, and under new ownership, Bocca has a sparklier disposition and divine cuisine to match.

Movies and Television shows, have gone a long way into solidifying traditional Italian cuisine as fine, hearty decadence. Bocca, however, wants to bring us into the essential modern Italy and its cuisine – its menu tapped to change four times a year, with the seasons.

Small plates may seem like a rip-off to South African sensibilities, but Bocca‘s versions will leave you stuffed, entertained, and yearning for more space in your gut.

Chef Guido’s new menu, serves diners who, hopefully visit as groups so as to enjoy an array of different small dishes together.

“Think local Stracciatella with roasted cherry tomatoes and confit eggplant. The Panzanellasalad of sourdough and seasonal tomatoes…while the Polpo of Atlantic octopus with potatoes and basil pesto is a classic Mediterranean-inspired plate.”

Zucchini, artichokes and even asparagus are not too deliciously far off, while carnivores die happy scarfing down the last beef, pork and lamb meatballs, dipped in fresh mayo verde.

I love the pasta selection at Bocca, filled with everything from Rigatoni, Ragu or even some the ravely reviewed Cassiopipa.

Bocca is pleasantly satisfying, so do make it a 2019 foodie goal!

Tel: (+27)021 422 0188

Email: info@bocca.co.za

Address: The Block, Bree St & Wale Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000

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