78 top restaurants honoured; eight new restaurants make the grade; three restaurants recognised for 10 consecutive years of programme membership.
Despite the past year being a particularly difficult period for the South African restaurant and hospitality industry due to tough local and global economic conditions, 78 restaurants – including a large number of Cape Peninsula, Winelands and Garden Route establishments - feature in the latest American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme, which annually recognizes the country’s top eating establishments.
The judging panel
This year’s judging panel comprise well known restaurant critic, Victor Strugo, and Cape Town “foodie” Tamsin Snyman, assisted by an anonymous squad of experienced assessors.
Selection criteria for inclusion in the programme include quality and creativity of cuisine, service, wine list, décor and ambience as well as overall excellence and American Express card acceptance.
Strugo paid a special tribute to Walter Ulz of Johannesburg’s Linger Longer fame who died on August 14. Linger Longer would have scored its 14th consecutive listing in the programme this year had it not closed down following Ulz’ death.
“No fewer than 12 of the 2011 American Express Platinum-awarded restaurants – six of them in the Cape Peninsula, Winelands and garden Route - have shut their doors in the past year. That’s the highest attrition rate I’ve seen in almost two decades of restaurant reviewing,” he added.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2012 AMERICAN EXPRESS PLATINUM FINE DINING PROGRAMME
• 8 recipients of their first American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards: BistroSixteen82, Nobu, Planet@Mount Nelson, and Reuben’s One&Only in the Cape Peninsula; Pierneef at La Motte in the Cape Winelands; Café del Sol and Le Soufflé in Gauteng.
• The 3 restaurants that have been reinstated to the programme are: Bosman’s at Grande Roche and Grande Provence in the Cape Winelands; the Durban mega-legend Saagries, now re-established by the original owner in the heart of Sandton.
• The 3 restaurants that have received 10 consecutive awards are: 96 Winery Road and FraaiUitzicht 1798 in the Cape Winelands and La Campagnola in Gauteng.
The full list of awards for 2012 is as follows:
Cape Peninsula (13): Aubergine, Buitenverwachting, Bukhara (city bowl), Catharina’s, Constantia Uitsig, The Food Barn, Gold, The Greenhouse, Haiku, Il Leone, La Colombe, Roundhouse, Savoy Cabbage
Cape Winelands (12): 96 Winery Road, Boschendal, Bread & Wine, FraaiUitzicht 1798, French Connection Bistro, Jardine at Jordan, Mimosa Lodge, Overture @ Hidden Valley, The Pavilion, Reuben’s (Franschhoek), Seafood @ The Marine, Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
Eastern Cape (1): Hacklewood Hill (Port Elizabeth)
Free State (1): De Oude Kraal
Klein Karoo (1): Kalinka Karoo Cuisine
Garden Route (7): La Locanda (George), Sand @ The Plettenberg, Zinzi @ Tsala (PlettenbergBay),
Serendipity (Wilderness), Trans Karoo (Great Brak), Pembreys, Zachary’s at Pezula (Knysna)
Johannesburg (19): Bellagios, Bellgables, Bukhara (Sandton), Butcher Shop & Grill, Byzance, La Cucina di Ciro, Gramadoelas, La Campagnola, Le Canard, Mastrantonia, Metzuyan, OsteriaTreNonni, Piccolo Mondo, Pigalle (Sandton), Roots @ Forum Homini, Saxon, Sel et Poivre, Wombles, Yamato
Pretoria (5): Geet, La Madeleine, La Pentola, Mosaic, Ritrovo Ristorante
KwaZulu-Natal (8): Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Daruma, Hartford House, Harvey’s, Ile Maurice, Roma Revolving Restaurant, Spice, Sugar Club