If every day is Valentine’s Day, we’re guessing you need some inspiration for your next date night. Planning to book a table for two for a hot date in the City of Gold? Qunu at The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa is the master of dichotomy – creating an atmosphere that’s both romantic and energetic while delivering African inspired food that’s as traditional as it is creative.
Although reservations should be planned in advance, Qunu – named for the rural birthplace of Nelson Mandela – is well worth the wait. From the outside the restaurant may seem nondescript, but upon entering you realise it couldn’t be further from that. Red earth tones, hanging gardens, carved wooden walls and woven lampshades elevate the dining room at Qunu, which encapsulates the heritage of Africa in the décor.
Fair warning: A meal at Qunu is going to cost you, so best you start saving up if you’re planning an anniversary surprise. Starters range from R190 to R385, mains from R285 to R1,150 and desserts from R205 to R235. Once you get over the sticker shock of its à la carte menu, you’ll find that dinner here is actually money well spent. The food menu is straightforward, with sublime African dishes and classic Eurocentric fare by head chef Trevor Chikaura and executive chef Jane-Therese Mulry and taking centre stage. Skilled sommeliers Lloyd Jusa and Bryan Nyamara are able to make pairing recommendations from the overwhelmingly impressive wine list depending on your dishes of choice, otherwise feel free to split a bottle between the two of you – every local and imported varietal, style and vintage imaginable is on offer.
For starters, the Lobster, Corn and Champagne is a sumptuous lobster morsel that must be seen and tasted to be believed. Delicate butter poached lobster, melon and charred corn are perched atop sweetcorn and champagne beurre blanc and dill oil, forming a work of lobster art. We also recommend the Pork Belly, Radicchio and Apple – an extravagant combination of perfectly tender confit pork belly, grilled radicchio, Parma ham and spicy apple chutney. Onto mains, Qunu serves meat dishes that hold their own against any steak in the city. The famous Steak Diane – beef medallions flambéed tableside with brandy, mushrooms, mashed potato and garden vegetables – is a singular Joburg experience that’s worth having.
The Seafood Platter is another worthy indulgence. Spend you shall, and with great rewards: The platter consists of velvety East Coast lobster thermidor with a rich tang; garlic prawns seared with gorgeous flavours that are juicy on the inside; lightly browned, sweet and buttery Canadian scallops; as well as grilled line fish, calamari and garden vegetables with lemon butter and peri peri sauce. Afterwards you’ll definitely want to save room for the creamy, salty and fluffy caramel mousse with banana ice cream, hazelnut sponge, hazelnut sable and salted caramel, or the light and refreshing yoghurt panna cotta with guava sorbet, yuzu crème, guava jelly and yuzu gel.
While gleaming tableware, elegant art-décor embellishments and live piano music in the background are all the ingredients of a romantic restaurant, where Qunu really shines is in its ability to ignite conversations that last the evening. For an even more intimate experience, why not huddle over a nightcap at Olive Bar (also inside the hotel) after dinner? It’s a surefire way to seduce your sweetheart!
Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, 26 Saxon Road, Sandhurst
011 292 6000