Personal is an understatement; you will be wined and dined in a setting so luxurious you could spend days just appreciating the décor; you’re served food that is sophistication and indulgence at its best and waited on like a royal. If you want to treat someone special to something special, then AtholPlace is it.
From the moment you arrive, you’re made to feel like a celebrity; from your name being on the exclusive guest list to being welcomed by the front of house and being served by management. Canapés are served either in the bar or on the terrace overlooking the exquisite gardens. We opted for a seat at the luxurious bar and enjoyed a glass of Avondale MCC whilst enjoying a plate of little ‘African delights’: an array of biltongs, mini bruschetta and stuffed watermelon balls with cucumber and onion marmalade.
We were then led to our table and served by Greshen (general manager and general master of amazingness). I’ve never experienced anyone like him at any other hotel restaurant aside from the Saxon – he’s a man who truly understands how to serve each patron’s specific needs by reading their verbal and physical cues.
Greshan talked us through the menu for the evening: a 4 course, seasonal menu that changes nightly. Chef Wynand van der Watt is a marvelous and generous talent; his eclectic style, with a strong Asian influence and touches of African and French flavours, is magical, and his plating and attention to detail is just outstanding.
For starters, we were served a light Chicken Miso Soup with Nori and Tofu which was the epitome of Japanese elegance combined with the homeliness of mum’s chicken broth. To follow was a Deconstructed Confit Duck Wonton with Pineapple and Cucumber Salad which was a cacophony of flavours and a textural delight – the crisp wontons layered between rich duck, all cut with the combined acidity of pineapple and refreshing, crunchy cucumber – it has to be said, it was my favourite dish of the evening.
For mains, there are always two options, generally a meat and a fish dish (they are happy to cater for special dietary requirements). On this evening, the choices were Pan-fried Sea bass with fondant potatoes, crispy onion and rocket salad and a citrus dressing or a Parma Ham wrapped Fillet of Beef with sautéed kale, dukkah spiced wild mushrooms and a pumpkin purée finished with a pink peppercorn jus. My partner and I shared the two. Both mains were magnificent, different and stand alone, but fitting perfectly into the story of the evening’s menu.
For dessert, we were served an exquisite strawberry cheesecake with hazelnuts, marshmallows, white chocolate ice cream and a berry coulis. The white chocolate ice cream was the most indulgent I’d ever experienced – it must have been made from a half-to-half ratio of chocolate and ice cream – it was out of this world! The cheesecake was moreish and perfectly counterbalanced the tart coulis and crunchy hazelnuts. And, that wasn’t even the end! With coffee and tea (served anywhere you like) you’ll receive a sumptuous plate of petit fours (on this occasion exquisite, homemade macaron, marshmallows and chocolate truffles.)
They have a concise and elegant wine list with some decadent options for serious wine aficionados as well as some refreshingly well-priced options – the Lavenir Chenin Blanc is wonderful and at R200 a bottle it’s superb value for money. Reds range between R200 and R600 a bottle. Greshan, having designed the list, is happy to help you choose the perfect bottle for your taste as well as for your budget.
The décor and furnishings; art and surroundings are just exquisite. The food is rich, delicate and superb. The service is beyond brilliant. If I had a star rating system, AtholPlace would get 5 out of 5.
(Currently, the dinner is R450 per person excluding drinks.)
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- Kate Liquorish