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EAT in Northcliff reviewed

Kate Liquorish checks out this must-visit restaurant in Joburg.

16 Jan 2015

People will know chef Philippe Wagenfuhrer from his award-winning ‘Roots’ Restaurant at Forum Homini, but what you might not know is that having sold ‘Roots’ a few years ago, he’s opened a new, independent venture in Northcliff called EAT. And it’s worth making a fuss over.

The restaurant interior is picturesque and refined made up of elegantly set tables donned with crisp tablecloths, exquisite cutlery and beautiful glassware, all surrounding a large, open bar. The exterior is perfect for summer days and warm evenings with a gorgeous courtyard showcasing lush ferns, trees and a trickling water fountain.

The service is personal and eloquent with Philippe’s highly trained staff and management attending to your every need; it’s a special place to say the least.

There is no wine list...

There is no wine list – I’ll say that again – there is no wine list – Chef Philippe has created a personal collection from such boutique wine estates as Ataraxia, Weltevrede, Catherine Marshall and AA Badenhorst Wines and will make wine suggestions according to your mood and choice of food – BUT, this is not a trap to get patrons to order wine that they can’t afford – his wines only have a 100% mark up as opposed to the 200-300% mark ups you’ll find in most fine-dining establishments.

He also has his very own wines made by select wine makers to fit specific criteria and flavour profiles. He’s created 5 wines that are unique, of fantastic quality and are very well-priced (the Chardonnay was my personal favourite - it’s something special, followed closely by the Sauvignon Blanc.)

The food

The a la carte menu showcases a gorgeous array of starters, steaks, mains and desserts; an eclectic and elevated take on classic dishes with a definite French edge that will make you shiver with delight.  Everything is made in-house and you can taste the difference.

We indulged in a set menu with wine pairings commencing with Philippe’s signature ‘beetroot gravlax of salmon’, beetroot-marinated Scottish salmon served with lemon sour cream and cucumber – it’s a beautifully balanced and delicate dish; a synthesis of sweet and salty salmon, slight acidity in the rich cream and palate-cleansing cucumber to finish each bite, simply delicious.

Next we indulged in the seafood bisque with handmade ravioli; rich, indulgent, magical! I wanted to swim in it! It simply exploded with purity of flavour and richness – what a beautiful dish.

A kind of elevated ‘surf and turf’ with a twist was to follow: quail with tiger prawns, artichokes and asparagus served with a pine nut stuffing and yuzu dressing; quintessentially savoury flavours using the sweetness of the prawns and pine nuts to lift the dish. (I honestly don’t mean for my descriptions to sound so poncy, but I swear eating food this good just brings it out of me.)

As a main, (yes there was more) we had perfectly succulent pepper-enrobed fillet with a Bearnaise sauce, Lyonnaise potatoes, field mushrooms, baby carrots, whole-roasted garlic cloves and wilted baby spinach, and… it was as good as it sounds, I wasn’t hungry and yet I ate every last bite.

We finished with ‘a study of Valrhona chocolate’, simply put I’d call it ‘an epiphany of chocolate’ – Valrhona truffles and ice cream, chocolate tart, marzipan jellies, floral chocolate dust…simply magical!

EAT was reviewed by Kate Liquorish. Follow her on Twitter for Gauteng foodie news.

- Kate Liquorish

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