I get to travel around South Africa rather regularly, and this gives me an opportunity to visit some restaurants, and get to taste some new dishes. The debate on which city has the best overall restaurants continues, however I do think that Cape Town has more great eateries than Johannesburg and Umhlanga, but when it comes to individual dishes, they are all very close. So, here are just a few of the best, must-have dishes, from around SA.
1. The Unicorn Burger from Bacon on Bree, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
Simply put, its one of the best burgers in South Africa. The patty is made from Chorizo sausage (mind blown!), and the bun is lightly dusted with course salt. All the ingredients are uber fresh, and the taste combinations have been wonderfully crafted by Richard Bosman and Justine Seymour. Be prepared to walk away full and satisfied!
2. The Croque-Monsieur from Petite Patisserie, Blairgowrie, Johannesburg
The KING of toasted cheeses! Thank you Paul Zwick for training at some very fancy french chef academy and bringing this back to us in SA. What is a corque-monsieur? Its a toasted cheese and ham, covered in béchamel!
3. The Venison Loin from Harvey’s in Umhlanga.
Mouth-watering! Andrew Draper certainly knows his way around a loin – LOL! But seriously, the Venison Loin is prepared perfectly (best served medium), and comes with deep fried chives, spring onion gnocchi, roasted peaches, all swimming lightly in a peach, cumin and red wine sauce.
4. The Nuri Stack from Nuri Sushi Factory, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
There are so many great dishes at Nuri, but this one simply stands out as one of the best! Layers of tuna, salmon, and rice rest on a thin layer of wasabi paper, and then each portion gets a dollop of mayo and a healthy smothering of fresh peanut sauce. Delicious!
5. The Espresso Cotta Pizza, Espresso Cafe, Parkhurst, Johannesburg
If you have been to Espresso and you have not tried this pizza – then shame on you! I have friends in the UK and US that still ask if I could smuggle them in a few slices the next time I go over. Possibly one of the most satisfying pizza’s in South Africa, tuck into a wonderful concoction of chicken, bacon, avo, topped with that legendary Espresso sauce!
6. The French Onion Soup, Ile Maurice, Umhlanga
For a spot of fine dining, Ile Maurice is glorious. They may have fancy and complex dishes – but the French Onion soup will make you sit up and scream Bonjour! You may think its a simple dish, but no, this one is far from simply – its worthy of a letter back to mother, explaining your dismay at finally tasting a soup that’s better than hers.
7. The Chicken & Chorizo Paella at Escondido, Illovo, Johannesburg
Well, the picture says it all. I was simply not able to get my camera out fast enough to take the picture. The Spanish certainly know to make good food – and the chicken and chorizo paella does not disappoint. The peas are fresh, the rice is not overcooked (although I like it a little burnt), and the toast crisp and hot. Its a real crowd pleaser – but get in there fast, as it disappears quickly.