I love going out to dinner, but it often feels like restaurants are getting more expensive. Food in general is getting more expensive, though – from groceries to take aways to restaurants, the economy is conspiring against anyone who lives on a budget. Thankfully, going out to a great restaurant can be more affordable with Restaurant Week, and there are some excellent places taking part in the experience.
First up, though, what is Restaurant Week? Essentially, it’s a special event week in Joburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban where certain restaurants offer set menus for lunch and/or dinner. Diners can book for Restaurant Week online to secure a table at their preferred spot and enjoy a delicious meal at a set price (excluding drinks). Lunch is a minimum of two courses while dinner is three courses. So, head on over to the site and try out some fantastic seasonal food for Restaurant Week: Autumn.
Our picks for Joburg
I know it can be hard to choose, so this is where we’d go if you’re looking for a nice spot in Joburg:
- Bijou: “Our Executive Chef and his team bring a new twist to classic culinary dishes. The restaurant is a reflection of our commitment to providing a simpler more ingredient-led style of cooking using fresh, seasonal produce, much of which is grown and reared (our fish farm) on our extensive estate.”
- Licorish Bistro: “We welcome you to Licorish Bistro to enjoy Chef Karel Jacob’s unique Menu – a unification of contemporary classics and modern South African with strong Cape Malay influence. Bredies, Boboties and sosaties are some of the flavours that are incorporated into Karel”s dishes to create a unique and flavoursome meal.”
- The Generator: Build your own gourmet sandwich, enjoy an ice cold drink and have a great time with mates… sounding good so far? Well, it is! Parkmore has a new upmarket sandwich bar and the reviews have been great! Located around Benmore Gardens, The Generator is where all of Joburg’s cool kids are hanging out these days. They handcraft sandwiches to your liking at good prices and they also have more than five craft beers on tap. If you’re stuck in peak time traffic and need a bit of a breather then head down to The Generator.”
- View: “At View, the food – and not the chef – is the star. The seasonal menu offers refined and honest contemporary cuisine – a richly satisfying experience with delicacies like crayfish and foie gras. View’s urban chic interior opens out onto a sunset terrace, where diners can take in sweeping views of vibrant Johannesburg.”
Our picks for Cape Town
This is where we’d go if you’re looking for a nice spot in Cape Town:
- ASOKA: “Around the legendary Olive tree in the city bowl, our famous Asoka unfurls. For over a decade, Asoka has been the gem of Kloof Street, a sensual experience where the music is intoxicating and the energy is palpable. The restaurant tantalises patrons with nights of culinary and rhythmic indulgence”
- Burger & Lobster: “An exciting new trendy restaurant & cocktail bar offering burgers, lobster rolls and fresh lobster all served with chips and salad.”
- Marc’s Table: “Situated in the heart of Cape Town Marc’s Table offers a modern dining experience like no other. With a quirky twist on fine dining, a vibrant yet elegant atmosphere, Marc’s Table is a must do! With a fresh weekly menu, it has something for everyone and world class signature dishes prepared by Chef Marc van Rooyen.”
- Nobu: “No stranger to international culinary influences, Nobu gives classical Japanese cuisine a contemporary twist with a Peruvian influence. Diners can indulge in fresh South African seafood and indigenous spices in mesmerising dishes such as Sake Roast Whitefish with Jalapeno or the Chocolate Bento Box; a dark chocolate fondant with green tea ice cream and a sesame seed tuile. A sweeping fan-like staircase leads to the 104 seat dining area and sushi counter, which is framed by a textured, translucent origami light that glides along the ceiling. The upper-level Nobu Lounge features a selection of Sakes including Japanese beer and Shochu based cocktails.”
Our picks for Pretoria
Where we’d go if you’re looking for a nice spot in Pretoria:
- De Kloof Restaurant: “Our passion is creating wonderfully innovative and exciting dishes, bursting with complex flavour sensations. We always want our patrons to be excited by the menu, amazed by the flavours and presentation and delighted with their overall experience. We go to obsessive lengths to find the best quality ingredients. Our beef comes from a small local family producer who only rears free-range grass-fed beef. We bake all our own bread fresh daily. Our ice creams and sorbets are home-made, naturally. We smoke our own meats and fish, and we even grow many of our own herbs. For us, that is the minimum requirement to call yourself ‘fine dining’. We don’t believe white table cloths and tuxedoes waiters can ever compensate for average food, which is why we are, and continue to be viewed as one of Gauteng’s finest by many of those who know.
- Laughing Chefs: “Laughing Chefs, the blood, sweat and tears of Mother and Daughter team Maggie and Esrida. Our dream, situated in a garden paradise, consists of a tapas bar, dinner theatre, venue, art gallery, and casual dining room.”
- Salt: “We specialise in artisanal cheese, small-batch cured meats, bread and a delicious plates menu.
Our menu is simple. You assemble a Tasting Plate from our chalkboard selection of cheeses, meats, and condiments.
The selection changes constantly. You may also choose to leave the decision making entirely up to us and we will build a Salt experience for you.
- Fermier: “As for the menu, the idea is to close the gap between produce, farm and the final product. Guests can see the produce growing, where it comes from and the versatility of each product. We strive to involve producers with the same philosophy about produce and create a dining experience where not only the tender cuts are used, but rather the whole animal (head to tail cooking). This will be created around the season and what we can grow and our ability to serve it in a fresh and exciting way.”
Our picks for Durban
Lastly, this is where we’d go if you’re looking for a nice spot in Durban:
- Cafe 1999: “The menu is informed by the seasons using only the finest local and imported ingredients, hand-picked by Marcelle and her team, culminating in fresh and innovative seasonal dishes. Cafe 1999 has has been in operation for nearly two decades and has remained a firm favourite for locals and visitors alike.”
- Greedy Buddha: “Tapas is originally a Spanish concept designed to provide small portions of food for sharing. Our menu is inspired by popular dishes from South East Asian countries like China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. We aim to present these dishes using a worldly influence that celebrates our South African cosmopolitan society.”
- Skye Bistro: “Skye Bistro is a fine dining restaurant set in the heart of the exquisite Kwa-Zulu-Natal Midlands. From beautiful log burning fires in the winter evenings to watching the sunset from the veranda over the rolling lawns of Fordoun; Skye Bistro is the perfect place to have a relaxing sumptuous meal. From farm style breakfasts, lighter café style lunches to delicious dinners, Skye bistro captures the leisure of a bygone era. For the more health conscious to those seeking more decadent treats, we cater to all needs.”
- The Glenwood Restaurant: “Tuck into luxurious pastas at this new Brand Road restaurant. It’s headed up by Adam Robinson of Glenwood Bakery, so customers can look forward to more flour wizardry here. The pasta is house made and each plate is filled with silky, perfectly cooked pasta that’s glossy with sauce. A winner is the tagliatelle with plump cherry tomatoes, basil and a blush cream sauce.”
Dammit, now I’m hungry and want to go to all of these places. Good luck choosing just one.