SAXON HOTEL, VILLAS & SPA
You can check out, but you may never (want to) leave… Checking into the award-winning Saxon Hotel is like being reunited with friends. GM George Cohen and PR Manager Johan Vos ensure that every aspect of a sojourn in this urban sanctuary is sublime. They both practise ‘MBWA’ (management by walking around), so they get to know guests. The drawcard? Show me another hotel in SA that boasts two brilliant female chefs. These stars do not compete, but complement one another – perfectly.
Getting to know chef Jane-Therese Mulry of Qunu was a pleasure after a sublime dinner with my son and his girlfriend. A voracious carnivore, a vegetarian and preferential but not official pescatarian, we did justice to the variety of menus. A little order envy was encountered when I saw the mushroom and hemp starter, the carrot risotto, and the Beef Wellington, but was well sated and impressed with my seafood. After a sumptuous and healthy breakfast Jane-Therese and I wandered around Sarapana, the rooftop garden at the Saxon.
When I heard that the spa offers an orange and bergamot experience, of course it was the food-loving part of my soul that needed to be fed. The Saxon Spa is a destination and manager Tania is extremely passionate. The Molten Brown signature experience is a must…
The next day I took advantage of the quiet, tranquil surroundings I managed to meet a few deadlines before getting excited about dinner at Grei. Chef Candice Philip, winner of the 2019 Haute Property award, has cemented her inimitable style in an herbaceous culinary journey that impresses from the amuse bouche to her parting gift. Here too are three menus – vegetarian, pescatarian and regular. If you look carefully you will detect a discreet touch of ‘theatre’, like the gold truffle oil dancing as it catches the light. Dig deeper and you will experience more mystery – nothing is obvious or contrived. This chef is at home with her space and her talent. Flawless and informative service, white-gloved, adds to the appeal, as does the expert wine pairing. Candice sent out a dish that we had not ordered, the scallops and sweetbreads – get there before it disappears off her menu. Simple yet innovative plating is another element of an unforgettable treat.
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL, THE WESTCLIFF
This property is close to my heart from its previous ‘life’, when The Westcliff. It was here that I hosted fundraisers for Hospice when managing their brand and brand ambassador campaigns. The spirit of abundance remains, and after being welcomed by vivacious PR manager Natalie Harrison, I settled in with high expectations of dinner at View. Here there is more than an exceptional view to catch your eye. From the first stroke of the five-course tasting menu impressed. The butter, served with style and finesse, displayed the most exquisite plating that I have seen. When the cow who produces the butter is nicknamed Batabile, you know there is attention paid to origin! Seafood courses of crab (so imaginative) and salmon were excellent in flavour and depth, and the quail porridge delighted me with its nostalgia, texture and taste. The skate, with squid-ink spätzle, chorizo, inkomazi, mussel and nasturtium was a triumph. The herb-encrusted Karoo lamb was tender and succulent, and the dessert of beet and rhubarb made my heart sing.
Chef Daniel Payne, who has been here for six years, is a finalist in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef award. I have no doubt that he will do Four Seasons proud.