12 courses and a cavalcade of culinary kicks
Claim to fame: The African continent’s best restaurant
Reason to go: A theatrical dining experience where guests flow between two distinctly different spaces in one night
To look out for: Tinashe Nyamudoka, who has just won South Africa’s Eat Out Wine Service Award
This is the perfect setup for a superhero metaphor, yet we can’t find which one of them it might be. Batman? The Silver Surfer? Captain Marvel? Or Adrien Veidt? There’s something here that revolves around the restaurant’s mega-chef and his Dark Room and Light Room that makes us think about Anakin Skywalker, but no, that’s just so wrong.
Luke Skywalker Dale-Roberts, South Africa’s most lauded chef has been firmly carrying the country’s culinary Kryptonite on the global food stage for over a decade. His restaurant, situated in an old industrial space in downtown Woodstock, has recently undergone a massive refurbishment, dividing the space into two theatrical rooms, the aforementioned Dark- and Light Rooms, open nightly for a maximum of 40 diners.
Guests start off on the Dark side where finger food is shared. Killer cocktails are key to getting you in the mood as you start the first seven courses of the night’s tasting menu. Drifting through to the Light Room, the airier yet more formal interior lifts you out of the decadent crepuscule and readies you for the remainder of your culinary journey. Sipping rose geranium-infused water, chilled with rose petal ice cubes, is how you are welcomed into this lustrous space. The setting is more formal, the tasting menu is plated this time. Every dish has its own identity, its own entirely different story. All are difficult to describe. The food combinations are furiously complex: you’ll find 12-hour smoked seabass, celeriac extraction, frozen horseradish and lime-compressed apple all on one magnificent plate. Volumes could be written on the dish that presents sweetbread, pine smoked pancetta, pine nut milk and ox heart stuffing. Desserts have never been as inventive and precision-plated as chamomile ice cream, cardamom and brown butter sponge with toasted sunflower seeds.
In the fight between good versus evil, we’re forced to tell you to succumb to the devilishly excellent wine-pairing, so unique that it’s hard to beat anywhere else in the country, you’ll be sipping on wines virtually unobtainable to most. Though Princess Leia would probably opt for The Test Kitchen’s very select hot and cold tea pairing that elevates the 12-course tasting menu experience to a whole new intergalactic level.