Plates and places for dining in style

In our latest newsletter we explored the issue of fine dining:

There seem to be an abundance of dining “styles” these days, including some new hybrids, like “fast fine” and “fast casual”, and older movements getting modern attention, like “nose-to”tail” and “farm-to-plate”. But what about good old-fashioned “fine dining”?

The website Fine Dining Lovers recently posed the question of what fine dining is to a group of celebrated chefs across the world, and their varied answers point to the fact that there is certainly nothing “old-fashioned” about it – at least not in the sense that there is a strict formula for how to provide it. One chef summed it up as being about “making people feel good”, while another mentioned providing diners with the “best experience” in a way that doesn’t have to be “formal”, “pretentious”, or “elegant”. Chef Mauro Colagreco (chef-patron of the 2 Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur on the French Riviera) had perhaps the most poetic answer: “For me it’s a big question. It’s a place where you work with memory, with art. I think it’s a place where you find emotions, luxury – but new luxury. Once, to have a garden was common, something everyday, but today to eat something from the garden is a luxury. Luxury has changed.”

Apart from the food on our plates, luxury has arguably also changed in terms of the spaces that we eat in, many of which used to signal the “fine” part of dining with their opulent décor – though perhaps none quite as extravagantly as the famous “Peacock Room” in the London home of Frederick Leyland, a shipowner and art collector in the nineteenth century, who agreed to let the artist James McNeill Whistler paint his dining room. He incidentally wasn’t too happy with the results, which included patterns inspired by peacock plumage on every available surface! (The original is pictured left, below, and its restored version, on display at the Freer | Sackler Gallery in Washington, on the right. Image ©Freer | Sackler Gallery.)

That’s not to say there aren’t still many charming, elegant and indeed beautiful spaces in which to enjoy dining in all sorts of “styles”. In our latest review, Jean-Pierre visits Pierneef à La Motte, which he describes as ‘one of the absolute stalwarts of Cape tourism’ not only for its food, but also for its magnificent setting and interior.

We’re lucky as diners in South Africa to have an abundance of spectacular spaces to eat (out) in – in addition to Pierneef, the Cape alone boasts the restaurants at CavalliDelaire GraffRust en Vrede, and Boschendal estates, Bombay Brasserie at The Taj in Cape Town city centre, and Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenhort, to mention just a few.

In Gauteng, diners can treat themselves to the opulence of both the food and surroundings at Restaurant Mosaic at the OrientMarble, Luke Dale-Roberts X The Saxon, and Signature Restaurant.

KwaZulu-Natal hosts the likes of Hartford House, several restaurants at The Oyster Box Hotel, and Little Havana in the Umhlanga Village.

No shortage of stylish dining options for a gourmet road trip, in other words!

Have we missed out any of your favourite spots to be pampered with great food and stunning décor? Let us know in the comments.

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