The 2022 Gourmet Guide recently awarded 36 SA restaurants with its “Plate” ratings, equivalent to Michelin Stars, since we don’t get Michelin in SA. The ratings range from 1 plate to 3 plates. We’ve been starving for a definitive restaurant authority in SA, and I hope we see the Gourmet Guide as just that on our local cuisine scene.
I’ve eaten at 8 of the restaurants covered in this years guide, and I’m booked at one of the 3-plate restaurants in Feb for my wedding anniversary next year. I’m pleased to report that my wife will be joining me at that one, as she has at every one of the others.
The plate-ratings in the Gourmet Guide start at 1 Plate for Excellent (17 restaurants in this category), then 2 Plates – Exceptional (14 restaurants)and Better than exceptional, or worth the airfare and the travel for 3 Plates (5 glittering restaurants in this category).
I’ve been to restaurants across the plate spectrum, and I have to say there’s a fine line separating them. I even have the infamy of having told a 2-plate chef I didn’t like one of his dishes. Granted I had no idea who he was at the time, he didn’t introduce himself to our table as the chef and owner, we just thought he was a surly waiter dressed in khaki shorts and vellies, and I hadn’t started food blogging and celebrity chef idol worship so I didn’t know what these people looked like.
We first met Candice Philip, our favorite chef in Jo’burg, when she was head chef under Luke Dale Roberts at the Saxon and we followed her as she branched out on her own. She opened Basalt at the Peech after Covid, and her new restaurant was awarded 2-plates, a well deserved accolade for her talent in the kitchen.
Our new favorite discovery in the Western Cape, Dusk Restaurant, created by @Darren Badenhorst and Callan Austin, opened late in the year, and I’ll put my money on seeing this one as a 3-plate in next year’s guide.
Apart from the 36 restaurants mentioned in this years guide, there are scores of other top class restaurants that are well worth the visit, but fell just short of the accolades. At the end of the Plate ratings, the Guide lists a number of restaurants their team has rated, which feature places like homespun by Matt, Marble and Embarc Restaurant. See what I mean about a fine line. I’d consider any of these as excellent.
We have some incredibly talented chefs in SA, and we have some world class dining at our doorstep. My kids hear me say this every time I leave my front door, but I love where we live.
Looking at the guide I take a deep breath. There’s still so much work to do. So many amazing restaurants, so many talented chefs, so many world class wines, and so little time. Money is another story.
Onward an upward.
Here’s a collage of pics from 8 of the country’s top rated restaurants.