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five hundred at the Saxon Hotel – Jozi’s gem…

So after an incredibly decadent surprise day at the Saxon’s spa I was still revelling in it all in the car park, ready to leave when the hubby drops another surprise: we were staying for dinner at the Saxon’s acclaimed five hundred restaurant. Dumbfounded, I dumped all my spa bag in the boot and we were whisked back to the main hotel…

I’d eaten at the Saxon before and whether it’s been high tea with the ladies, a meeting or a launch (I even had my kitchen tea with them!) it’s been anything but ordinary so I expected five hundred to be pretty superb.

Whenever you’re in a “Joburg’s-best-restaurants-type”of discussion know that five hundred will always come up. In fact, when I attended the DSTV Eat Out Awards late last year, they’d won the number two spot overall of SA’s top 10 restaurants for 2013. five hundred‘s Executive Chef, David Higgs also won the coveted Chef of the Year Award that night (trust me, this is a really big deal!). So yes, all in all expectations (and excitement!) was pretty high…

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even the menu presentation is luxe…

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I love an open kitchen. Makes me want to pull up a bar stool and just stare…

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I could hardly believe I was there…

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a variety of freshly baked bread with a range of flavoured salted/unsalted butter. But don’t make the rookie mistake of filling up on bread (when will I learn!?)…

Such eager beavers were we that we were the guests to arrive first to arrive. The menu is quite different – you choose from a number of set menus. There are various 4 and 6 course menus and each table needs to settle on one. i.e. every person at the table could choose a different four course menu but the table must collectively go with either a 4 course or 6 course menu upfront. The menus are then priced with or without alcohol (of course there is a sommelier on hand). I was pretty hungry having just had a light lunch hours ago so I thought the 4 course would be a breeze. How wrong I was…

Lust

  • no matter where in the Saxon hotel I am it’s always the unexpected touches that blow me away. I sat down and I’m about to put my handbag on the floor and someone appears with small stool/bench for it – amazing!

Love

  • while this is definitely a polished experience, the Saxon takes the pretentiousness out of it by doing simple things like having the chefs bring the food to table in person to explain each dish – I really love this detail
  • the fresh ingredients that go into their dishes come from their own on site rooftop garden

Loathe

  • seriously not a thing…

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starters – queli prawn roasted on shells and herbs, seaweed mayonnaise, garden chives & avo

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second course: kabeljou, garden lemon balm & saffron broth, artichokes, salted almonds, gold oil

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third course – lentil curry in an onion shell, roasted cauliflower, cauliflower salad, coriander dressing

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and finally – dessert! Eggless chocolate mousse, apple mint ice cream, coffee meringue, crispy garden mint

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And more dessert! Now you know why I was spoilt 🙂

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I was slightly shocked when the waiter pulled our menu choice from the menu book and got them signed by the Executive Chef David Higgs as a mementos – very nice touch…

While I can’t say I loved everything I  ate, I did love the entire experience and all the fine touches from start to end. Each time a plate was presented to me it looked like a work of art, almost a bit of a shame that I had to ruin it by eating it. The flavour combinations were unexpected and David Higgs & team are master at their craft, deserving of all the accolades. My favourites were the lentil curry third course and my absolute best was the eggless chocolate mouse – all the elements on the plate made for quite a party in my mouth.

If I ran the place

  • I’d have a food baby – permanently!

Need to know

  • five hundred serves dinner only & reservations start from 6:30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays. Oh & you may need to book weeks in advance…
  • ask for a table close to a window (they almost all are anyway). That view just makes dinner even more sublime
  • you also have the option to book a table online (see the book a table tab top right) which I quite like…

For something even more special you may want to the The Chef’s Table (a private dining room just off the restaurant – I definitely want to go back for this) or if you enjoy wine, the Ruinart Experience.

I want to say “go hungry” but you can never really be hungry enough for this. So go early & pace yourself!

PS I woke up the next day to head to Cape Town kind of wondering if it all really happened and if it wasn’t for the box of honeycomb and fresh cheese on the counter that five hundred has sent us off with, I may not have believed it…

W

 

The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa

36 Saxon Road, Sandhurst 2196, Johannesburg

+27 11 292 6000

www.thesaxon.com

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