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A R1,600 meal prepared by South Africa’s best chef

A R1,600 meal prepared by South Africa’s best chef

For R1,610 per person you can enjoy a seven course meal, paired with top SA and international wines, prepared by the number one chef in South Africa.

The chef is S.Pellegrino South African Chef of the Year Chantel Darntall, and her base of operations is Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient – easily South Africa’s top restaurant by mere fact of having her menu grace its tables.

Chef Darntall trained at the Prue Leith Culinary Academy in South Africa, and extended her training in Michelin three-star restaurants under top chefs such as Nico Ladenis of Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane in London, and Michael Caines of Gidleigh Park in Devon.

SA Chef of the Year, Chantel Dartnall, presenting her menu

SA Chef of the Year Chantel Dartnall presenting her menu

She’s meticulous and precise in her presentation, renowned locally and abroad for her modern take on fine dining, and is never absent. If she’s not in her kitchen, the restaurant isn’t open.

She presents her menu in person, checks in when there’s a break in service, and warmly greets you on your way out.

Mosaic features a three-tiered menu that packs a wallop – in flavour, presentation, and price.

For those keen on a lighter culinary experience, there’s the petite degustation, which offers four courses for R625, with an optional wine pairing for R225-R325.

The next level of gastronomic delight is the discover degustation, which offers five courses for R735, with an optional wine pairing for R275-R375.

Or for the most adventurous there’s the real deal – the grande degustation, which presents seven courses and a cheese platter for R1,185, and optional wine pairing for R325-R425.

So, what do you get for the asking price?

The short answer is an unforgettable culinary experience. The long answer is detailed below – with pictures.

Amuse Bouché (complimentary appetiser)

Parmesan Soup

Parmesan Soup

We were presented with a selection of freshly baked breads: yoghurt and muesli bread, basil rolls, and sweet tomato ciabatta.

Accompanying such an act were some of the most unique butters: saffron infused; French salted; and vanilla – a smorgasbord of flavours that you wouldn’t expect in something as simple as a pre-dinner roll.

Butters

Infused Butters

The breads were followed up with a small, but immensely flavourful Parmesan soup and a crouton.

Parmesan Soup

Parmesan Soup

Jewels of the Sea

Jewels of the Sea

Jewels of the Sea

The first ‘real’ course was an oyster. But nothing is ever quite that simple here. The oyster was topped with a champagne foam, along with a light apple jelly and some salty caviar to give that slight edge.

It almost seemed a waste to take the traditional oyster-eating action to the dish. The fresh blast of ocean is cut through by a subtle sweet and salty mix as the flavours blow up in your mouth.

Jewel of the Ocean

Jewels of the Sea

Sunflower Spring

Sunflower Spring

Sunflower Spring

What can only be described as “almost too pretty to eat”, the Sunflower Spring is all about the carrot.

A soft carrot puree is surrounded by an orange blossom yoghurt cream and topped with delicately presented carrot shavings, with jelly adding some sharp sweetness to the mix.

Sunflower Spring

Sunflower Spring

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna

Featuring the tiniest meringues and a wasabi marshmallow, the yellow-fin tuna course presented the thinly-sliced fish in two shades: au naturale, enjoyed with a light vinaigrette, and another soaked in beetroot, giving it a striking colour and even more striking taste.

Yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna

Millionaire’s Nest Egg

Millionaire's Nest Egg

Millionaire’s Nest Egg

By far the most intricate and falvourful course on the menu, the Millionaire’s Nest Egg presented a couple of dainty quail eggs, nestled in a courgette bowl.

The quail eggs are infused – one with truffles and the other with courgette puree – giving an added twist to its seeming simplicity.

What makes the nest and egg worthy of millionaire status, however, is the generous helping of truffle sauce, topped with grated black truffle for an added sensation.

Millionaire's Nest Egg

Millionaire’s Nest Egg

Alchemist’s Infusion

Alchemist's Infusion

Alchemist’s Infusion

What is a meal without a bit of showmanship? The Alchemist’s Infusion presents a trio of lobster tail pieces sitting among a fresh vegetable selection.

The twist comes in with the hibiscus consomme (a richly-flavoured soup), which is infused with the floral flavours of the hibiscus plant right in front of you.

The consomme is then poured into the bowl, letting the rock lobster and vegetables soak up the aromatic flavours.

Alchemist's Infusion

Alchemist’s Infusion

Free Range Duck

Free Range Duck

Free Range Duck

The duck course was by far the heaviest meal: with a duck breast square teaming up with a duck leg confit. The dish is served with poached pears, parsnip puree, and a foi gras foam.

Free Range Duck

Free Range Duck

Free Range Duck

Free Range Duck

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

As a pescetarian option, the Garden of Eden combines Mauritian seabass with a tomato confit and lemongrass.

The meal is arranged in a deconstructed manner, and was designed to be part of the “perfect pairing” – working hand in hand with an Elgin white blend wine.

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

Selection of Cheeses

Cheese Platter

Cheese Platter

The cheese platter was simple, but then you only really need the cheeses to speak for themselves. The cheeses offered are Manchego, Comte, De Pekelaar, Phantom Forest, Old Amsterdam, and several others.

Cheese Platter top

Cheese Platter

 Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena

While the sheer amount of lemon on display with this dessert may seem overpowering, it’s actually perfectly balanced and refreshing.

You’re presented with a Victorian sponge cake, surrounded by a light jelly with dollops of lime and lemon curd.

It’s also served with a lemon sorbet, which is rather cleansing at the end of the culinary journey, as well as a lemon verbena tea, which provides contrasting warmth.

Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena

Chocolate Cherry

Chocolate Cherry

Chocolate Cherry

I don’t think it would be a complete menu without the option of chocolate. The chocolate cherry combines bitter dark chocolate bites with a sweet home-made cherry, and cherry marshmallows.

Oh, and there’s a deep, rich chocolate ice cream which just rounds off the course, bringing your culinary adventure to a perfect conclusion.

Chocolate Cherry

Chocolate Cherry

More images from Restaurant Mosaic and The Orient Hotel

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Quinton is a business and technology journalist who dabbles in media and graphic design. He holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Johannesburg....
Join the Conversation
  • Clinton

    Don’t feel so bad now about paying R4300 for 7 course meal at Eureka89 in Melbourne.

    • Streetwise 2

      I’d swop that for a bucket of drumsticks any day

  • Leon Cornelius

    Well, what a gastronomic journey, and a reason to experience “Cuisine” as it should be… it is a marvel to experience a Chef dinner prepared like this…

  • Dylan Kuchiki Clarke

    Any idea how i can book this? My gf is a real foodie.

  • Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling

    Looks divine but wasn’t The Test Kitchen voted the best restaurant in South Africa?

    • r0j0e

      best chef not necessarily = best restaurant

  • meep

    I guess I have very little appreciation in the way of “fine dining”. I would take a braai any day over this. Does look interesting but it looks too much like playing with your food.

    • rob.jetikons

      I look at this and all I see is pretentiousness.

      • Ian

        Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it 🙂

        • r0j0e

          ..or pretend you’ve tried it.. pretentiousness = playing pretend 😛

    • Kristoffel Wiesyafader

      As a fine dine chef myself, I think this lady is great. And considering what you get the price isn’t that bad. Something as simple as mash can give you a mangasm if prepared by the right person. As a south african I can understand the apprehension. We’re meat eaters and we’re always looking for bang for your buck. But don’t call it pretentious or stupid if you haven’t tried it. I used to think the same before I was a chef. it’s an experience that will change your life.

      • Siya StoneCrazee Sosibo

        mangasm lol I know what you mean, yum yum 🙂

      • r0j0e

        I have a feeling I’d still be hungry after eating tom thumbs food

    • Robert Mugabe

      That’s why your only culture will be rugby

  • bricare

    bird food who pay R1600 for food really no thank you keep your fine dining

  • Marcan

    R 1600, many SA households have this or less to spend for the whole month.

  • FIghtcANCer

    lyk sos stront, klomp vinger happies wat fancy lyk, klomp crap vir mense mense met te veel geld.

  • lizbit

    Really beautiful and probably tastes super awesome but I cannot justify that kind of money, you could make a meal fit for a king at home with that kind of money. O well let the rich be rich.

  • Tholo McNelson

    Awesome. Will surely check it out next time. Lets see if it lives to the likes of Momofuku Seiobo

  • nickn4m3

    Where is the food? They only seemed to cover the snacks in this article.

  • r0j0e

    ..but is it Halaal

  • r0j0e

    Fran Descher meets Angelina Jolie? (not sure if that’s a good or bad thing)

  • bengine

    I like food – I really do – I like cooking, eating, trying new things but it is about the flavours and the textures. When I need a microscope to find my food or have to play Where’s Wally to spot the morsel in the decor it sort of detracts from the experience.

  • Visionery1 .

    You’ve got to be kidding… you pay R1,600 for a ‘meal’ and then go elsewhere to quell your hunger! As an affluent acquaintance once said, “you don’t go to these places to eat, you go there to be seen”. Senseless spending, which has nothing to do with class, breeding or culture. Those who work their way up to finally ‘arrive’ appreciate money and its value, they will not indulge in lavish ‘meals’ and pretentiousness.

  • AvatarS

    This reads like a marketing piece. If you’re going to try this out, at least give us your thoughts on the meal. It’s unlikely that every dish is a raving success; if not bad as such, as least not living up to the other courses.

    • Maybe I’m just a pleb, unaccustomed to fine dining experiences, but I was blown away by each course. I cannot fault the experience in any way – sorry if that isn’t what you would like to hear.

      • AvatarS

        More of a case that this doesn’t look like a review, but a marketing piece. At the beginning, you do give some hint of what you think of the courses, but the rest is just an indication of what the dish is. Not faulting it if that’s what it is; maybe I’m just odd in hoping for an indication of the diner’s experience as well :). I love Test Kitchen and go at least once a year, but I am inevitably disappointed by one course which doesn’t live up to the rest. Perhaps I’m just hyper-critical when I come to food.
        Excellent photos, btw. Would love to try it out if I can ever get to that area.

        • If anything, my experience was probably a little bit *too* favourable, so I tried to stick to the make-up of the dish instead.

          Food is one of those things that, even if something wasn’t my favourite thing, someone else may absolutely love it. An example would be the oyster course – oysters are not my thing, but it was the best oyster I’ve had, and the flavour combinations were undeniable.

          I think the main intention of the piece wasn’t to review, but to showcase what a R1,600 meal looks like, and what you get. It’s up to the readers to determine its value.

          I would love to visit the Test Kitchen 🙂

  • JactusCak

    What the gravy train brigade would call ‘ alight snack at reasonable price’, while some Zimbabwean victims of xenophobia living under causeway somewhere would use that money to feed themselves for a month. Just saying…

  • David Van Zyl

    I just loved the decorations on the plates. Where is the photos of the food?

  • 小杜 (xiao du)

    Whoever took the photos needs to learn about lighting and white balance settings.
    They’re below average. Given that this is all about the food, I’d expect better.

  • They Say

    Only for the super rich – I prefer normal food .

  • It’s a very well-considered menu that is lives up to the expectation that we eat
    with our eyes first.

    Anyone who thinks that they will still be hungry after a seven course meal will be
    very disappointed. The portions look small but they all lead the way to a
    richer and more substantial dish afterwards. By the time they’ve served the
    fifth course you’ll probably find yourself wishing they were smaller or that
    you had opted for fewer courses. The body registers that it’s been fed within 20 minutes- and Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient is not about to throw courses at you to get more bums in seats. This is fine dining, not fast food service.

    Each dish is an experience in its own right. Foodies will give their front teeth to
    enjoy the nuances of each course and how they interplay with each other; but,
    if you’re strictly a meat & potatoes kind of diner then those nuances will probably be wasted on you. There’s also a technical skill required to each that you are not going to find in your everyday restaurant and the ingredients are also delicacies – which all contribute towards the increased cost, but the chances are very slim that they would be mundane by any stretch of the imagination.

    I would definitely opt to enjoy this meal with a wine pairing rather than finishing
    one bottle- the wine pairing would add another dimension to the experience.

    I love that the Jewels of the Sea are served after the soups and breads almost
    like a palate cleanser. You can just imagine the freshness of the oyster –
    along with the salty & astringent accompaniments literally waking up your
    palate for what lies beyond.

    My only critique would be that after one fish course, I would have preferred red meat after the duck.

    Better photography could also done these dishes true justice.

  • They Say

    what a waste of money!

  • I don’t know who wrote this article, I know accents sound fancy but you kind of look silly because you changed the ENTIRE meaning of the word! Fix it!

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