Many assume that the best fine dining restaurants in Joburg are of the stuffy French sort – that can’t be further from the truth. While there are plenty of Gallic classics, there are also down-to-earth high-class spots to celebrate a special occasion or for a regular treat-yourself Tuesday. When a trip to France is impossible, head to La Petite Maison – just be careful not to blink as you drive past or you might miss it!
Located along the hustle and bustle of 7th Street, La Petite Maison is a teeny tiny sliver of a restaurant dressed up with inky blue walls, lush greenery, velvet banquettes and burnt orange cocktail chairs. It’s so narrow it feels like a railway carriage and can seat no more than 20 diners, but considering the rise in speakeasy bars’ concepts and Instagrammable eateries, it’s clear that the off-the-plate experience is now just as important to diners as what they’re eating. This new French-inspired bistro owned by high-flying chef Tyeya Ngxola and friend and fellow Alma (one of the world’s premier cooking schools) graduate Timothy Stewart ticks all the boxes of today’s dining culture.
Tyeya and Tim are a dream team whose epicurean creations inspired by South Africa’s land and seascape speak for themselves. Tyeya worked at the Michelin-starred La Fiorida near Lake Como in Italy while Tim served his time in the kitchens of Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort and Luke Dale-Roberts’ Test Kitchen. Their petite menu and wine list at Le Petite Maison focus on quality ingredients, seasonal suitability, natural methods and provenance. Each course on the map that is the menu represents a region. To start, order the Atlantic-inspired, jet-black swirl of squid ink risotto. Brimming with butter and topped with Cape Malay spiced prawns and golden calamari coils, it’s wonderfully rich.
For the main event, it’s a toss-up between the Kleinmond sous vide octopus and the Magaliesburg pork belly. The octopus, served with orange, Peruvian tomato pickle, couscous and harissa, is a feast for the eyes and palate – it’s a tantalising interplay between sweet and savoury. In the pork belly dish, complemented by slices of fresh fig and a glistening star anise-infused demi-grace sauce, crispy skin gives way to slow-cooked strands of melt-in-your-mouth tender belly meat. Both dishes are cooked to perfection, hence why it’s hard to choose. Dessert isn’t up for discussion – order the irresistible Coffee Bay tiramisu with layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and a rich, velvety mascarpone cream. You won’t be sorry!
We highly recommend the wine pairing option, in which lesser-known grape varietals and small, independent new winemakers elevate what’s on your plate in every course. Three courses costs R550 with wine or R400 without, while five courses with wine is R800 or R550 without. For an extra-special spoil, splash out on the seven-course tasting menu that will set you back R1100 with wine or R750 without. The waiters are well-versed on the food and wine pairings, and overall the service is seamless and an absolute pleasure.
1 7th Street, Melville
010 593 7986