April 16, 2021

The last supper at Restaurant Mosaic…but the memories live on

Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient Hotel

THE LAST SUPPER AT MOSAIC…BUT THE MEMORIES LIVE ON

What a privilege and honour to be invited to the final dinner service at Restaurant Mosaic. It was with a mix of emotions that we entered the gates of the Orient Hotel. Despite it being the last weekend of service before closing their doors, we were welcomed by the cheeriest of smiles at the gate. I quietly commented that I would never be taking this drive through the Francolin conservatory again. We proceeded in silence, and for the first time, never saw any wild life en route. During previous visits a tortoise, giraffe, zebra and buck had gathered to greet us. It was as if the animals knew…

THE ART OF…

The warmth of Mari Dartnall’s welcome was uplifting. After settling into our characteristic Jaipur suite, we spent the afternoon enjoying the vast collection of art in their beautifully appointed museum. All too soon it was time for pre-dinner aperitifs (Champagne of course!) and canapés. A sense of unity prevailed as the guests gathered, socially distanced yet close enough to share some banter, united in the moment. Menus have always been a work of art, and as I opened the ribbon of ours, a personal letter from Chantel, Mari and the team brought tears to my eyes.

Chantel Dartnall

The ‘last supper’ was an experience to behold, a combination of dishes that had wowed us before, and some surprises. Sunflower Spring started the show, and there was nothing humble about this carrot and yuzu mousse with bergamot cream and pickled carrot.

The Song of the Sea – salmon, kombucha and seaweed stood out perfectly on its pure white backdrop, depicting beach sand – accompanied by Hartenberg Tenacity Riesling Ltd Edition 2012.

The last supper at Restaurant Mosaic

A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE

The Mousse de Mer is an old favourite of mine, it’s langoustine, Rooibos risotto and lemongrass foam bringing back indelible memories of my first dinner at Mosaic. It was served with Quinta da Pellada Reserva Encruzado 2013. The Soup du Jour featured on the 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™ cover, the year that Chantel won our Innovation award, and a day later was heralded as the best female chef in the world!  It’s elevated cauliflower and Brussel sprouts to new heights with the addition of truffle and goose liver mousse. The Naudé Family Wines Grenache 2014 was its impeccable partner.

Naude wines

The Remise en Bouche, an alchemist’s infusion, was an inventive take on a palate cleanser. We were then ready for main courses – catch of the day with nasturtium cream and dill veloute for me, and Le lapin for my man – a spectacular trio of rabbit that embraced every part, loin taking centre stage, alongside a spelt salad and country terrine. Quinta do Crasto Branco 2014 took its place alongside the fish, and Paul Cluver Celebration Decennium Mosaic Blend 2015 with the (remarkable) rabbit dish.

fine food and wine

A BITTERSWEET ENDING

‘Blink-Blaar-Wag-‘n-Bietjie’, 36-month matured Old Amsterdam cheese served with beeswax honey cream and pumpkin seed granola provided a delicious interlude, with Domaine Lucien Crochet Le Cul de Beaujeu 2015. Sommelier, Moses, served the Domaine des Aubuisieres Le Plan de Jean Moelleux 2009, our final pairing, with the nostalgic desserts. The Heffalumps and Woozles (a combination of almond, snowflakes and tonka) that deservedly graced the pages of a Gourmet Guide, and orchidaceae (Tahitian vanilla, pate de fruit and Valrhona Ariaga) was equally impressive.

Chef Chantel Dartnall of Restaurant Mosaic

A TRIBUTE TO TALENT

It was a joy to interact with Moses, Surprise and the team, and they gave every ounce of their being to ensure that the final dinner would be everlasting. Breakfast was a brief affair, truly a meal that any five-star establishment worldwide would be proud to produce.

Breakfast at Mosaic

Fond farewells all around, and a few photographs and then it was time to go. Heartsore, but happy that Chantel and I have shared a love of food, a desire to improve the industry, and mutual respect. I am exceptionally grateful for the contribution that Chantel and Mosaic have made to South African cuisine, raising the bar, and promoting our talent worldwide. She changed our culinary landscape, effortlessly, with grace and genius. Her affinity to nature was translated with perfection into supreme botanical cuisine. There is no doubt that she will make her mark globally, again and again…and we will be watching and supporting from a distance.

THE NEXT CHAPTER

It was hard to tear ourselves away, and I was melancholic during our drive back to Jozi, contemplating the footprints that Chantel has left for others to follow in. Her legacy will live on – and how delighted I am that she will be our ‘foreign correspondent’ when firmly ensconced in France. Moses continues as custodian of the impressive, enviable wine collection as Restaurant Mosaic sells their cellar. The first lot of Champagne was sold out in an hour. Watch out for the second sale, which is sure to create great excitement amongst discerning oenophiles.

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