The judges for this year's competition are restaurateur Dario De'Angeli; Arnold Tanzer (Director of the SA Chefs Association); Pete Goffe-Wood (Kitchen Cowboy and food alchemist) and Letitia Prinsloo (Principal of the Institute of Culinary Arts).
The judging criteria The restaurant should be operating from November 2006.
The restaurant owners and chef should display an unwavering passion for their business.
Chefs should be concerned about the origin of their produce.
Consistency and excellence should be displayed in every aspect of the business.
The top twenty nominees
* Auberge Michel (Johannesburg)
Auberge Michel is one of South Africa's finest French restaurants and should be a shoo-in for a top ten position again.
Aubergine (Cape Town)
Aubergine epitomises haute cuisine in a tranquil setting. Aubergine was recently honoured for receiving an American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Award for ten consecutive years.
Bosman's is the only Relais Gourmands (Relais & Chateaux) establishment in Africa, has also received an American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Award for ten consecutive years.
* Bread & Wine (Franschhoek)
Situated on the beautiful Môreson estate, head chef Neil Jewell will try to ensure that Bread & Wine's modern country cuisine receive a top ten spot again.
Grande Provence (Franschhoek)
With executive chef Peter Tempelhoff from the award winning 'Automat in London joining Grande Provence, they will definitely be gunning for the top ten. This Sunday Times Chef of the Year might also have his eye on the Eat Out Chef of the Year title.
Café 1999 (Durban)
This Durban stalwart encourages sociable tapas-style eating. Café 1999 will be hoping to add this national accolade to its plethora of KwaZulu-Natal based dining awards.
* Ginja (Cape Town)
The tiny door to this restaurant leads to an exciting and artistic restaurant. It is certainly vying for a top ten spot again this year.
* Jardine (Cape Town)
George Jardine won last year's Eat Out's Chef of the Year Award. Jardine has a well-balanced menu with something for everyone.
La Belle Terrasse and Loggia (Johannesburg)
Situated in the Westcliffe Hotel in Johannesburg, La Belle Terrasse serves elegant international cuisine complemented by an extensive wine list.
La Colombe (Constantia)
When taking over Luke Dale-Roberts had to fill the shoes of multi-award winning chef Franck Dangereux. However, the unpretentious Brit made the transition smoothly, ensuring that the La Colombe-dining experience remains a favourite on the fine-dining landscape of the Western Cape.
Linger Longer (Johannesburg)
This restaurant has been delighting diners with flavour-rich dining experiences for more than a quarter of a century. Linger Longer was recently honoured for receiving an American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Award for ten consecutive years.
* Ninth Avenue Bistro (Durban)
The food at the popular Durban bistro is exceptional and should ensure that they get the nod for a top ten position again.
* Reuben's (Franschhoek)
Reuben's is owned and run by the Reuben Riffel, one of the golden boys of South Africa's cuisine scene. Reuben's is a safe bet for a guaranteed spot in the top ten.
African and Asian heritage is evident in the food at Roots, combining elegantly with traditional French influences. Chef Philippe Wagenfuhrer should get the nod this year.
Salt (Cape Town)
Salt's nomination might be a bit contentious considering that the creator of the 'Salt food experience' is Pete Goffe-Wood, one of the judges on the Eat Out panel. However, Salt has definitely left an impression on the restaurant scene in Cape Town taking fine dining, service, setting (and pricing) up a notch or two.
The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais (Franschhoek)
With multi-award winning chef Margot Janse at the helm, this restaurant needs no introduction. Controversially missing a top ten spot last year, we can only hope the Eat Out panel will not overlook The Tasting Room again.
Templeton's at Four Oaks ((Montagu)
It is fantastic for SA's gastronomic landscape to see a restaurant from Montagu making the top twenty cut. The owner, Stephen Templeton (formerly executive chef of the Mount Nelson Hotel) has turned this historical building into a wonderful gourmet retreat.
* Terroir (Stellenbosch)
Terrior won last year's Best Restaurant and Best Service Award. However with partner Nic van Wyk's departure to run his own show at the Barnyard Brasserie and Tapas Bar, it will be interesting to see if this will influence Terrior's performance.
* The Showroom (Cape Town)
The Showroom took Cape Town by storm with its über trendy setting while grabbing the attention of diners with open innovative cuisine.
Zachary's at the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa (Knysna)
Chef Geoffrey Murray dishes up global flavours and a spot in the top ten will compliment will his illustrious list of kitchen-conquering accolades.
* Restaurants that featured on the top ten list last year.
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