February 18, 2022

Fine dining restaurants – experience the very best

fine dining restaurants



South Africa’s Plate Rating defines fine dining

Dining at a fine dining restaurant is so much more than simply savouring fine food. It is more than what is presented on a plate. It’s the philosophy of the chef, the setting. It is an experience…provided by people.

South Africa’s Plate Rating takes into consideration so much more than what is on the plate…provenance, the philosophy of the chef and restaurant, and more…

The Gourmet Guide team is very proud that our awards programme is acknowledged as SA’s original, respected restaurant rating. Established in 2016, it is revered for credibility, consistency and integrity. We are constantly asked how and why it began…

How did it all start?

I grew up in a home devoid of silver spoons but filled with love and laughter at a table laid with simple food. I was always encouraged to lay another place for another face. After graduating with two qualifications in food, and working in the industry, business beckoned, and I veered off course. But a decade or two later, my love of food was re-ignited, and after a marathon of writing business books, magazine articles and a weekly newspaper column, my passion for food was then united with my love of words. I started to travel the world to sniff out stories behind top restaurants and chefs, and to then write about them.  

Fine dining restaurants - gourmet guide Plate Rating

Why a Plate Rating?

I realised that SA could hold its own in the culinary world, and I consulted iconic chefs during these travels to produce a list of criteria for a rating system. It needed to be a system that equated to respected ratings globally, like Michelin stars and Australian hats…we are unique, so we deserved our own.

  1. One plate is awarded for excellent cuisine.
  2. Two plates are given for exceptional dining that is worthy of a detour.
  3. Three plates, the ultimate accolade, is bestowed upon restaurants that are world-class destination dining, worthy of a flight.
FYN restaurants in South Africa
fine dining restaurants in the winelands

How about now?

The last seven years have been the most rewarding of my career, working with chefs and restaurants to make the industry a better place through our training programmes. Training food writers and reviewers has been equally pleasurable, and I am convinced that 2022 is going to be our best year ever! Our bi-monthly Gourmet Guide online magazine covers fine-dining restaurants, but also refined and quality dining – plus a few quirky spots too!

The pursuit of excellence

We constantly seek excellence, and when a restaurant does not come up to scratch, rather than giving them a public lambasting, we work with them to improve their business. Sometimes it is a simple feedback phone call, in other instances we work with them to develop their brand plan, refine their menu and ‘own’ their space in a very competitive industry, and train their management and staff.  


While we are hard at work training, refining, recruiting, researching and already dining out, you may be wondering where you can enjoy a superlative dining experience. Why not look at the current list of Plated restaurants and start your gourmet journey for the year. Let us know what you think – and what other establishments you believe need to be considered.  

Meanwhile, happy dining!

Jenny Handley


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