I have the feeling that Joburg (Johannesburg) has a lot to offer when it comes to food – good food. Restaurants seem plentiful and you can basically eat anything there. We ask our hotel’s manager where we should go for dinner if we want to eat well in Johannesburg.
The hotel manager kindly gives us a few names of restaurants. Since our time in Johannesburg is limited, we really have to pick carefully.
On our first night out, we go to Moyo for dinner. The restaurant is in an area called Melrose Arch, which is really nice and feels completely like you’re in Europe. It’s basically a street with several restaurants, bars, cafes, some shops, etc.
Moyo is an African restaurant and of course we have to try some of the local cuisine. When in Rome … or when in Africa! The ambiance is incredible. There’s a lovely outdoor terrace where we choose to sit and the place is packed (always a good sign). Later in the evening there’s live music.
We decide to order a little of everything to try the most. My favorite dishes are the beef koftas (spiced beef meatball skewers, served with chili paste and minted yogurt, cumin flatbread and a petite salad), oxtail linguine (Amos oxtail, deboned and splashed with cream, finished with parmesan, rocket and roasted cherry tomatoes) and lamb curry (Durban style lamb curry in home baked bunny chow bread, served with carrot salad and raita).
The Mopane worms (butter sautéed mopane, served in a traditional tomato gravy) are also something that we just have to try! Well, at least in theory. I end up flying solo as Anders backs out as soon as he sees the plate of fat, brown worms (they’re actually caterpillars, so pretty nice size). I eat 2…just to show off, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. They’re very interesting, to say the least – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with a taste that I can’t really describe. You just have to try for yourself to see what they taste like!
Our bill (including a bottle of wine and a few bottles of water) comes out to 1083 Rand, about US$ 83 with 10% gratuity.
AtholPlace is actually a boutique hotel in Joburg, and it seem rather odd to go to another hotel for dinner. But since it’s a member of Relais & Chateaux, we figure it must be superb as these properties usually are.
The dinner menu is a fixed 3-course dinner, which is priced at absolutely nothing. It’s only 550 Rand per person (US$ 41-42), which is ridiculously inexpensive. I’ve only ever eaten at a Relais & Chauteax hotel restaurant at Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana and just one main course there will be the same price – or more!
As a starter I choose the soft shell crab tempura with wasabi mayonnaise, sesame cucumber and ginger caramel. Anders has the five spice duck breast, wonton and miso broth.
For main course I have the bourbon and honey glazed salmon, sweetcorn veloute, grilled leeks with herb salad while Anders has the slow roasted pork belly with shrimp arancini and red onion puree.
I order the coconut sponge with chocolate ganache and white chocolate for dessert and Anders has the local cheese selection with melba and preserves.
And we share a bottle of rosé.
The meal is outstanding, to say the least. The food is excellently prepared and presented and almost each plate is different in color, style and size – to perfectly compliment the food.
The ambiance of the restaurant is, however, completely dreadful, which is a shame because it takes away from the full enjoyment of the meal. The decor of the restaurant is actually lovely, modern with soft colors and dimmed lighting.
But what kills it is the sound – the constant sound of the waiters’ shoes scuffing against the wooden floors, the lack of any background music to mask this and the snippets of shouting heard from the kitchen every time the automatic doors open/close as waiters pass in and out.
Overall, we leave with a mixed experience. And although the food is some of the best we have in Joburg, the complete impression is not one that leaves us wanting to go back.
We head back to Melrose Arch for some good, old Italian food. We already know Jamie’s from our trip on Harmony of the Seas last December, so we kind of know what to expect.
The restaurant is packed, and the hostess tells us it’ll take about 45 minutes before we can get a table!! Fortunately, the manager comes around and sees us and immediately decides that he can give us a table, because it turns out that most of the people sitting at the bar (supposedly waiting for tables) aren’t going to eat.
So, we get a small table for 2 and we’re good to go. Jamie’s Italian is a new(er) restaurant in Joburg and apparently very popular already.
We’re hungry, so we start with a meat plank antipasti (Pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata piccante, with mini buffalo mozzarella, aged pecorino & chilli jam, olives, pickles & purple slaw), crispy squid (Fried with chilli, parsley & garlic, with house aioli for dipping) and wild mushroom bruschetta (with ricotta, rosemary & lemon), which is insanely good.
I order the Julieta pizza (slow-roasted tomatoes, basil, the best buffalo mozzarella & aged Parmesan – Jools’ favourite turbo-charged Margherita) and it’s probably one of the best pizzas I’ve had in my life! Anders orders the Porcini Fettuccine (Porcini mushrooms, mascarpone, garlic, chilli, white wine, Parmesan & pangrattato) and although the portion is small-ish, he’s very happy.
The food is really excellent, all made with good ingredients. Service is friendly and speedy considering the restaurant is full. Dinner is once again very cheap – just under 1000 Rand or US$ 75, including a bottle of wine, some bottles of water and gratuity. This is definitely a place I would go back to – with an appetite and a reservation.