An Italian classic, lasagna, at Ritrovo, Pretoria
The delectable mezze of Anatoli's, Cape Town
The sweeping views at De Kloof, Pretoria
The culinary artistry of Tokara, Stellenbosch
The beautiful creations of Aubergine, Cape Town
The superb vista from The Roundhouse, Camps Bay
Chef Bertus Basson of Overture, Stellenbosch
Exciting modern cuisine at The Greenhouse, Constantia
Precise plates of flavour at La Colombe, Constantia
Stylish interior and great food at 9th Ave Bistro, Durban

21 Nov | Looking forward to the next twelve years: Hartford House post Jackie Cameron
Hartford House is set on the grounds of a thoroughbred stud farm. The hotel and restaurant is within a 19th century, sandstone house that once belonged to the last prime ... more
14 Nov | Waffle about Waffles
My Belgian friend invited me to have lunch with him at Aroma Gelato and Waffle Lounge in Pretoria (072 592 8822; Waffles are important to Belgians... more

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Escondido Tapas & Wine   Illovo, Johannesburg
Hidden delight in the heart of Illovo   | By Lynne | Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Great food is an adventure. It’s an experience that excites and surprises, that extends beyond the plate to create an enchanting journey of discovery. This is why I eat out – to experience something new, to be inspired, to be transported from the everyday. Escondido – aptly named for “hidden treasure” from the Spanish – leaves me full of new reasons to eat out, to explore, to fall in love with tapas all over again.

This hidden gem, tucked away in the basement level of the Post Office Centre, is quaint and enchanting. Escondido has an unperturbed eclectic charm, where mismatched tables and comfortable kitchen chairs are paired with rustic timber and soft light to create a relaxed ambience perfect for a tapas bar. Staff are welcoming, knowledgeable and attentive, sharing their recommendations and helping with descriptions of exotic ingredients and combinations. Owners Henri Martens and Chef Willem Lubbe are seasoned restaurateurs, and it shows. Present themselves, and with their team, they make the space feel like home away from home – warm and authentic.

The menu is the hero of the Escondido experience. Handwritten on giant blackboards brought to your table, these vast menus dominate the space, doing justice to the genuine love of food that seems to inspire Escondido. Dining here is all about the latest menu – an extensive selection of dishes which change seasonally, even daily, inspired by available fresh produce. The choices of dishes are accompanied by an inventive selection of wines, craft beers on tap and cocktails to add to the sociable dining experience.

Picking your favourites from the menu is an adventure, selecting from over 20 tapas plates plus various “nibbles and sides” diverse enough to satisfy even the most discerning diner, with numerous vegetarian options. The menu is rooted in dishes to share, from paella to platters and a wide selection of tapas. While the vibe feels Spanish, the cuisine is global - from traditional potatas bravas, to baked Italian melanzane, thai curry mussels, and rustic French-inspired pork & duck rillet. And for some local flavours, “cheesy papalaka fingers” - mielie meal wedges, with spicy chakalaka!

Not everything on the menu is a delight. The duck rillet lacked flavour, and the fishcakes were average, though accompanied by a delicious zingy ponzu sauce. But there were also standouts - truly superb, memorable dishes that felt like a delightful discovery on the menu. The caprese bruschetta with balsamic reduction was fresh and balanced with beautiful clean flavours. The pumpkin fitters were sweet and simply scrumptious. The wild mushroom aranchini with truffled cream cheese is the kind of food you imagine served from the rustic kitchen of a real Italian nonna, packed with earthy flavour and cheesy goodness. It’s these gems that beckon me back for another visit, along with the adventure of exploring more of the amazing menu!
Made for sharing, this is sociable food that provokes conversation and debate about flavours and favourites. Prices are not astronomical – from R30-R55 for a sharing dish that is ample for two. Expect to order 5 dishes and save space for a range of fine deserts, from oozy chocolate fondant with pistachio icecream to traditional Spanish churros. Total bill? Roughly R350-400 for two, with a bottle of wine.

This “hidden treasure” is a rare find and welcome addition to my most-loved list. It’s exciting, inventive dining accompanied by warm service, a charming setting, and a little spirit of adventure. With the exploration will come dishes you don’t fall in love with. But Escondido can guarantee some unexpected and truly unforgettable gems, and for these, and to explore further, you’ll return for more.

Reservations recommended. Contact 011 268 0058.
Follow @Escondido_Jozi for news
Location: Post Office Centre, Corner Rudd Road & Otto Street, Illovo, Sandton
Overall Rating:   4.5
Food: 4 Service: 5 Ambience: 5
Yes, I would return!

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The restaurant at Waterkloof   Somerset west, somerset west
what a disappointment   | By jenny | Thursday, 22 January 2015
I came home after reading your review and could not believe i had been to the same restaurant. On looking at trip advisor many have had a similar experience. I think you need to have a good look at the food at this place and we wasted an evening on your recommendation.
Overall Rating:   2
Food: 1 Service: 3 Ambience: 3
No, I would not go back.

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Helena's Restaurant   Stellenbosch Central, Stellenbosch
food matched the ambience   | By Jürgen | Sunday, 04 January 2015
Great lunch while seated on the veranda of this lovely old building, and watching the passing parade. The prawn, orange and fennel gnocchi caught my attention. Perfectly light gnocchi, finished off in the pan. Crunchy prawns and everything made to taste interesting by the whole baby fennel and fennel mousse. Orange juice provided some acidity and bite. The dish contained no orange segments, and I was informed the chef adds them when he feels like it, which I thought was a bit flippant (from the chef, not the waitress). My wife had an interesting and tasty mezze platter with a number of ingredients often not included such as rillettes and crispy aubergine sticks. Good to excellent service and generous wine by the glass.
Overall Rating:   4
Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambience: 4
Yes, I would return!

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Cargill's   Rondebosch, Cape Town
Exceptional Pre Wedding Dinner   | By Stewart | Sunday, 04 January 2015
We had an exceptional meal on 18 December 2014. It was a pre-wedding dinner for 13 people. The experience was perfect in every way - superb food (lovely menu and well prepared and presented), great ambience, beautiful table and last but not least excellent discrete but attentive service. Five stars!!!! Stewart Stiles
Overall Rating:   5
Food: 5 Service: 5 Ambience: 5
Yes, I would return!

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Bistro 98   Salt Rock, Ballito
Architectural gem   | By Janus | Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The Bistro is inside a sleek and inviting pavilion that opens to the surrounding forest . Architecture at its best. The food ranges from standard staples, like burgers, sandwiches and salads to more complex dishes that I suppose could be described as fusion. I am usually not a fan of fusion, but it does seem to work better in this climate and setting. Vegetarians are also catered for, and I had a very good vegetable couscous during a recent visit. Desserts have never disappointed with the recently devoured chocolate cheesecake requiring special mention. A good selection of wines are available.
Overall Rating:   4.5
Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambience: 5
Yes, I would return!

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DW Eleven-13   Dunkeld West, Johannesburg
Disappointing DW ELEVEN-13, 3 Dec 2014   | By Ben | Friday, 05 December 2014
My first impression was very negative, brought on by an almost dismissive front of house receptionist. Thank heavens for Emily, our waitress for the afternoon, who had a wonderful sense of humour and delightful personality! Her service is commendable.

The breads were interesting, the best the freshly baked corn bread bread. I did not think the butters were that interesting. Very difficult to get anything out under the display.

We ordered the pork belly, which looked lovely on arrival. Very nice plaiting indeed. Pork belly should ideally have a nice crisp skin with most of the fat cooked out. And it should most definitely be cooked throughout, without any red blood still lurking, which was the case. Whilst the combination of flavours worked well, unfortunately my pork belly was undercooked, resulting in a soggy mixture of meat and fat. The triple fried chips and broccoli brought as extras were fine. In fact, it turned out to be the best part of the meal.

The wine list is not interesting, nor unique, and comes with a heavily overpriced price tag. The starters are completely overpriced. I will most definitely not return. This experience also leaves a big question over the criteria used by the Eat Out awards team. It is difficult to understand why this institution is so highly rated when the basics are certainly not in place.
Overall Rating:   1.5
Food: 1 Service: 3 Ambience: 1
No, I would not go back.

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Beleza Restaurant   Tamboerskloof, Cape Town
Tasty as always   | By penny | Thursday, 27 November 2014
Tasty as always | My favourite restaurant in my neighbourhood. The waitresses are friendly the owners awesome. The steaks are the best in Cape Town.
Overall Rating:   4.5
Food: 5 Service: 4 Ambience: 4
Yes, I would return!

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Ocean Terrace Restaurant, The   Umhlanga Central, Umhlanga Rocks
You will be delighted   | By The Fay Way | Monday, 15 September 2014
There are very few times in life when I find myself giggling with delight for any length of time at all. Our visit to the Oyster Box Hotel’s Ocean Terrace restaurant had me in stitches of pure joy. This was my first visit to the little town of Umhlanga, just North of Durban City. A smart little drive from our B&B took us practically side by side with the shoreline to the prettiest little town I’ve seen since Knysna. And then we did it, we got lost. Something this amusingly special you can only expect from someone who actually lives in a small town. I mean really, how does that happen in a modern age, with GPS and everything? It happens when your GPS reckons that your hotel destination is in fact a block away in a shopping centre parking lot. Oh dear. Fortunately for us, Umhlanga is really quite a small town, so a block later we found our destination: The Oyster Box Hotel.

You know you’re in for a fabulously indulgent afternoon when the staff at the security boom and his colleagues in the parking area are all wearing matching khaki short uniforms, Livingstone safari style hats and little red carnations tucked in their name tags. Oh my. Directed to our parking by no less than three attendants similarly attired. So we took a moment to sit in the car and figure out if it would be appropriate to find a spot for hubby to have a smoke, or if we should just hide in the car and have a puff there before mincing in through the red carpet adorned wood swing door entrance of the hotel. We opted out of hiding, since we are adventurers at heart after all (Livingstone himself would have approved), and were directed to the Chukka Bar by one of the three bellhops.

There are a few things I really do love, and one of them is a beautiful colonial style smoking room. And this is where we ended up. Leather seating, wood panel, Polo sport adorned walls and a most friendly bar tender concerned with our every well being. We were a bit sorry to have to leave the Chukka Bar, but our reservation time was approaching, and I hate to be late, so off we went to the red carpet entrance to the hotel.

The décor inside the Oyster Box hotel is luxurious combination of colonial beauty filled with flowers, curved lines, polish and sparkle with reflective surfaces and light that dances from windows and exquisite chandeliers. The Ocean Terrace itself is a spacious seating area filled with classy pure white wicker garden furniture with green accent cushioning. Not a very private setting unless you are able to get one of the booths. We were told by our servers that the hotel was opened in 1947 and was also recently revamped. The original tile details are the only thing that remain of the old Hotel, a lovely sentiment.

Service at the Oyster Box Hotel and the Ocean Terrace is deserving of its five stars. Our booking was not only confirmed by email but we also received a phone call that morning final confirmation for our booking. I liked that. I suppose that some may find that annoying, I, however, appreciated the effort and was glad that we were all on the same page and that our trip, detour and all, was on track.

Our server was not only knowledgeable about the menu, but about Durban cuisine in general. I related a story to him about a “curry joint” my dad had taken us to as children and have been unable to find. Our server was able to give me the name of the place and informed me that sadly it had closed many years ago.

At least we can say that although my childhood curry experience has now made way for a new favourite. The Curry Buffet at the Ocean Terrace is incredibly popular. Set out at the far end of the terrace, the curries on offer include a number of vegetarian options (lentil, bean and chickpea), chicken, lamb, mutton, beef, and right at the very end, stands the King of Curries: The Beef Vindaloo. R250 per person for this lunch, I would highly recommend that you come hungry.

The menu at the Oyster box Ocean Terrace sports a lovely variety to suit almost any palette. Since we had a dinner arrangement later that evening we decided to be frugal with the tummy space and order a light lunch. Hubby took on Fettuccini pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce.

I was incredibly tempted to try the Curry buffet. After telling the dad curry story, I just wanted to sample everything and the curry buffet really offered me a chance to sample each and every one at a very reasonable price. But, as I said before, we had arrangements and I needed to think with my head and not my taste buds, so I opted for their homemade Durban Bunny Chow and requested that they give me a hot curry. The irony does not escape me that we went to the fanciest hotel on our list and I order the messiest dish available. I will withhold further comment about that albeit to say that I managed to be the neatest bunny eater in the world that afternoon!

Tender, tender, tender meat, aromatic spices and enough chilli to lull me into a false sense of security for at least half the bunny. Once I reached the middle of the bunny, I am pretty sure I lost my vision for a few minutes before regaining it, giggling some more with utter delight at the best bunny I’ve had in years.

The menu does also include a small, but unusual milkshake menu, including a nutter butter milkshake which sounded delicious. I was just so sorry my stomach wasn’t big enough and the waiter informed us that there were no spare stomachs available. Ce la vie.

All in all, The Oyster Box Ocean Terrace restaurant was the absolute highlight of our stay. We had such a good time, enjoyed the food, the service, the atmosphere. If you ever want to spend an afternoon lunch in Durban, try the Ocean Terrace. You’ll be delighted.
Overall Rating:   5
Food: 5 Service: 5 Ambience: 5
Yes, I would return!

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Stephward Estate   Uvongo, Margate
A little bit of an enigma   | By The Fay Way | Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Even to the locals of the KZN South Coast, Stephward Estate is a little bit of an enigma. Hidden in the lush 5 acre tropical garden of their very own little exotic nursery, this B&B, wedding venue and restaurant is home to two of the coast’s most eccentric people I know. Stephen van Belkum, couture fashion designer, orchid expert and chef and Howard the botanist. All elements of this unusual place are brought together by the central personalities of Stephen and Howard: Stephward.

The estate boasts an Orchid & Exotic Plant Nursery as well as a micropropergation Laboratory which has become well known in South Africa for their collection of rare and exotic plants. Come for tea and home baked cake and sit at the pool side or dine in the Edwardian style dining area for lunch or dinner enjoying a home-style meal prepared by Stephen himself while Howard ensures that patrons are comfortable and wanting for nothing.

To take in the full experience of Stephward estate you really need to take into consideration, the entire estate lest you find yourself guilty of a “key hole” vision of the place. The grounds are quite sizable, lush gardens surround the main buildings as well as the little chapel and accommodation cottages; fish ponds and water features and eclectic statues can be spotted all around the grounds.
The exotic plant nursery are a passion for both Howard and Stephen, if you are able to visit in the day time, you can ask for a tour of the nursery (word of warning to the tannies with the big handbags, leave those behind; big handbags have been responsible for damaging priceless orchids and delicate exotic plants in the past and you will be met with a stern word from the Stephward team.)

The restaurant at Stephward Estate is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however booking is essential particularly for dinners.

The menu at Stephward does vary, but for the most part you can be sure that they will have Stephen’s famous oxtail stew and West Coast Sole meunier. You can simply not go wrong with those. Swiss cut rump and sirloin done to perfection and served with delicious homemade sauces will inspire you to try your own at home.

The ingredients used in the Stephward kitchen are as local as they are able to obtain, herbs coming from the nursery itself and even the Cointreau used in the dessert is made by Howard himself.
Fresh black mushrooms stuffed with bacon and garlic, served with a melted cheese topping is quite a filling starter, beautifully presented and filled with earthy flavour.

Scallops are not very common on the South Coast and very few restaurants serve them. Stephward is one of only two that I am aware of that serves these delicious little treats. Stephen prepares his with a creamy garlic sauce and serves with homemade slices of bread.

The curry dish is a popular one not only with the visitors but locals as well. The beef or lamb curry is made with mostly fresh herbs and spices, served with sambals or vegetables and homemade chutneys and poppadum.

17 Peter Rd Uvongo, KZN
Phone:039 315 5926
Overall Rating:   4.5
Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambience: 5
Yes, I would return!

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Daruma Japanese Restaurant   CBD, Durban
As traditionally Japanese as a South African can be   | By The Fay Way | Monday, 25 August 2014
Daruma authentic Japanese restaurant and Teppanyaki is located on the ground floor of the TsogoSun Elangeni Hotel right on the Durban beach front. We were looking forward to visiting this restaurant because hubby is a bit of a Japanese culture enthusiast. Our Friday evening dinner reservation was set for 6pm but I will say that although 6pm is, for us, a good time for dinner, it seems that everyone else dines at 8pm. We were the first to arrive and although the restaurant was empty, doors closed a few minutes before 6pm, we were ushered inside and seated with a friendly smile albeit with some expressions of confusion.

Seating at Daruma includes general seating around either a small or large Teppanyaki stations which seats between 8 and 12 people. Individual tables are also available and I was glad that I requested to be seated at the Teppanyaki. On booking over the phone I was asked where we would prefer to sit (table or Teppanyaki?) I responded that since it was our first visit, which would they recommend. Table. Really? Hmmmm no I think we’ll sit at the Teppanyaki station rather. Excellent choice as it turned out. We shared our station with a couple on what seemed to be their first date (very sweet) and a family of four complete with rebel goth boySti and grundge girl stuck to her iphone. The fun part was that the couple on the one side just went about their date, chatting and getting to know one another without getting into our space or even acknowledging our existence. The dad of the family on the other side was quite the joker and engaged us a little with some humor. At no time did we feel that our privacy was impeded even though we were all seated beside one another. What fun. Already feeling very Japanese!

Drinks menu at Daruma is nice and varied. Besides the very impressive five star wines and champagnes available, they also had a small selection of traditional Japanese Sake (warm or cold) as well as Jin ro sho-chu which is a Korean brand of rice wine.

GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka) is one of my favourite Japanese Anime series; in the cartoon, Onizuka makes a big deal about a sushi dish that includes Toro; he seems completely horrified that his student just dumps the container containing this “toro” in the bin without even a second glance. I google. Toro is a fatty cut of tuna and according to my research is a Otoro in particular is a most valued ingredient in authentic Japanese sushi. So to honor the Great Teacher Onizuka, we order toro sashimi. No stock. Argh. No. really? Deflated and a little peeved, we order a sushi platter that includes at least something we’ve not tried before. Sashimi Marlin which had a delicate flavour compared to the accompanying tuna and creamy salmon sashimi. I approve with a smile. You have to when every mouthful is so pleasant.

The menu includes not only quite an extensive sushi menu, but also an option to have a la carte or set menu teppan yaki, or individual a la carte dishes. The set teppan yaki menu allows for some choice in the mains of either beef, chicken or lamb. With a price tag of around R240 for a three course meal, we decided that this was a worthwhile option and ordered the beef.

Starter on the set menu included a Japanese style salad (shaved carrot topped with shaved cabbage drizzled with vinegar dressing, rice noodles with soy dressing and seaweed.) Although this is not really my idea of a salad, I was eager to embrace my authentic Japanese experience and maneuvered my chopsticks like a professional and found the salad to be refreshing, particularly after the distinctive flavours we encountered in our sushi platter.

The second part of our starter was a sticky teriyaki marinade chicken kebab called Yaki tori. Sweet, tender and very tasty.

And then our teppanyaki chef arrived, raw ingredient dishes balancing on his arms. Simphewe. Not the most traditional of Japanese names, but as traditional as South African can be. Professional and deft with his teppan yaki spatulas, Simphewe proceeded to clean and oil the hot station and entertain us with balancing eggs, super fast dicing omelets, and hopping bits of fried steak onto our plates. Stir fried vegetables, beef fillet and egg fried rice made for a very filling main meal indeed. The beef could have been seasoned a bit more, but perhaps the way teppan yaki is performed it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much seasoning to use; perhaps Simphewe will improve this over time.

Our dessert was very simple, flavoured ice cream; chocolate or green tea flavoured.
Overall Rating:   4
Food: 4 Service: 4 Ambience: 3
Yes, I would return!

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The stylish interior of Signal, Cape Grace
Graham Beck's Gorgeous for bubbles and bites
The inviting warmth of Lucit, Pretoria
Makaron in Stellenbosch: design meets cuisine
Great calamari at Pirates, Plumstead
Regal dining room of the Saxon Hotel, Sandton
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