I visited Central One Restaurant at The Radisson Blu Gautrain and I have to say, the experience was exceptional. There’s something to be said for the hotel service we experienced here; well-trained staff that have worked there for a number of years and know the restaurant and menu thoroughly, but who also understood the value of adding the personal touch to our experience. We were welcomed and served by 2 individuals, namely Sibusiso and Lucky, both of whom work the floor and both of whom were on standby for the entirety of the dinner to ensure that everything was to our liking.
On entering the restaurant, the first thing we noticed was the view - you don’t find many restaurants in Johannesburg where you can enjoy watching the hustle and bustle of the city below under twinkling stars with such clarity, and I found this really special. We were seated at a lovely table next to the cascading windows; the table settings are quite rudimentary, the large, almost bucket chairs are sumptuous and decadent and the ambience is sophisticated, but slightly stiff due to the vastness of the space.
Sibusiso was our waiter. He’s been working for the Radisson Blu for 5 years and was both charming and attentive without ever making us feel hassled. We were given our menus and talked through the 3 course set menu for the evening with the addition of wine pairings. On the cards were: a starter of pan fried sea bass, octopus, garlic lime purée, potato fondant, asparagus and sweetcorn, followed by a main of sous vide chicken, broccoli purée, bacon aranchini, almond curd, confit tomato and braised fennel and, for dessert, coconut cheesecake, kiwi sorbet, naartjie foam and a berry coulis.
The sea bass was absolutely perfect; crisp, salty skin framed succulent flesh, a slight smoky flavour from the dry-fried octopus countered the sweetness through the purée and sweetcorn. It was a seriously sophisticated dish, but it didn’t try too hard; clever use of simple ingredients that were delicate and balanced, none of which overpowered the sea bass. The dish was paired with Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp and aromatic Sauvignon Blanc which was just right. I could have eaten this dish for all three courses and I will be back just because of it!
The sous vide chicken was beautifully plated (as were all the dishes, for that matter) and the flavour combination of the braised fennel set against the perfectly cooked chicken and bacon aranchini was delightful. Executive Chef, Stuart Cason really does know how to play with subtle flavour combinations and his flavour balance is wonderfully elegant and dynamic. My only grievance with this dish was that the balance of ingredients (in terms of amount) on the plate was slightly off – there wasn’t quite enough of the purée, curd or jus to coat the amount of chicken served. To drink, we were served Tokara Chardonnay which is buttery and smooth, but it’s a light Chardonnay that still has a crispness to it which really complimented the dish.
The dessert was spectacular; the coconut cheesecake was the creamiest and dreamiest cheesecake I’ve ever encountered. The naartjie foam, which was a kind of egg white mousse, was gorgeously light and tart, as were the sorbet and coulis which offset the richness of the cheesecake beautifully and, paired with a glass of the Lórmarins Brut Classique which is light, citrusy and full of delicate bubbles, made an absolutely magical end to the evening.
The cost of the 3 course set menu is R275, or you could have 2 courses for R225 which really is fantastic value for money. The à la carte menu showcases a lovely variety of vegetarian, fish, chicken and meat dishes that all exhibit Chef Cason’s eclectic and exciting style, but it isn’t laboriously long or overcomplicated. Starters and desserts are around R65 and mains around R150.
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- Kate Liquorish