In South Africa, we’re fortunate to have fantastic fine-dinning restaurants – restaurants that are innovative and keep us enthralled. One such restaurant is the Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient, in Pretoria. From Pretoria it’s about a 30 minute drive and an hour drive from Joburg. But it’s well worth it, especially as you arrive at the gates of the Orient Hotel.
The Restaurant Mosaic is run by head chef Chantel Dartnall. And if you’re in the restaurant, eating lunch or dinner, you’re bound to bump into her.
My boyfriend and I decided it was best to stay over for the night, than to drive home on dark roads after a few glasses of wine. Better safe than sorry!
Upon entering a security guard escorts you to a parking bay. He already knows that you’re a guest of the hotel and not a day visitor.
As you walk through the massive front doors, Zele is waiting for you. And you’re immediately taken to your room, where you’re handed a refreshing drink of pomegranate .
As it was our anniversary, a bottle of Pol Roger Rose 2004 was waiting for us in the room. Bottle popped and we were well settled in to our gorgeous Udaipur themed room.
After a while we got a bit hungry and asked for a light snack. We thought we’d get sandwiches or something similar. But no, Chantel had made a delicious and beautiful salmon salad. It was light, refreshing, crunchy, sweet and has a bit of bitterness. An excellent prelude to the main event.
When dinner finally arrived, we made our way to the restaurant and were seated at a cosy booth. It was difficult to notice the people around us, with the way the restaurant was designed. Immediately I noticed champagne glasses. I didn’t order any champagne for dinner as I knew we’d still be feeling the effects of the Pol Roger. But as we were celebrating an important event the Restaurant provided glasses to start off the evening.
With our glasses charged a bread cart followed, stocked with a variety of bread. And the waiter insisted that you try more than one.
Then Chef Chantel popped by to take you through the menu and different wine pairings and help you decide between the 5 course and 9 course meal. We went with the 9 course menu and the enthusiast wine pairing. How could you not?
Still part of a bread, we were presented with a amuse bouche. It was delicious.And an inviting start to the evening.
And then the “prelude” continued. First was frogs legs served on a bed of mushroom jelly. I must admit, in all my travels I never ate frogs legs before and I did not prepare myself for it. But as the true foodie I am, I was not going to let the opportunity pass me by. Frogs legs taste like chicken and in this case it was a tasty fried chicken legs. The mushroom jelly added an earthy taste. It was delicious. The frogs legs were served with a Graham Beck Brut (2012) and it paired well. Nothing felt out of place.
Once the appetizing prelude concluded, the first course was served: a foie gras mousse in a light muscadel jelly with finely sliced muscat grapes. It was served with truffle brioche. It was gorgeous. The foie gras was rich and creamy, the grapes added freshness and the brioche added an earthy flavor. It was, without a doubt, the best foie gras dish I’ve had in the country. And it was paired with my favourite South African Gewurztraminer: the Paul Cluver 2014. The pairing was perfect as the wine added a freshness to the earthy dish.
The second course was the Celebration on Spring. A well-thought out garden salad. It was fresh and light. Everything you would want from a vegetable salad and although it looked beautiful, the flavours complimented each other well. And so did the Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc (2012), that was fruity and creamy.
The third course was Genesis. Genesis was rainbow trout with a miso mousse and Pomelo. This dish was also tasty and had a subtle fish flavour. The miso had flavour and spiciness. And the Pomelo really did pop. Genesis was a beautifully designed dish but the only problem was that it was paired with the Iona Chardonnay (2014). The wine was still young and clashed with the spiciness of the miso.
The fourth course was the course I’ve seen everyone love: Mousse de Mer. And understandable so. The langoustine was cooked perfectly and the tomato froth was light and fluffy and infused with rooibos. And hidden beneath was delicious risotto which added meatiness to the dish. The seashell mousse had an intense tomato flavour. The tomato salt (the sand) added more intense tomato flavoring, so it was best to have as little as possible of this. The dish also contained seaweed which added more salty flavour sauce. Overall, it was an amazingly well-thought out and prepared dish. The flavours complimented the langoustine well and is a dish that has plenty of depth. It paired well with Hartenberg Weisser Riesling (2008), which was slightly acidic and very fruity.
The fifth course was, honestly, the course that caught my attention: Millionaire Nest Egg. A quail egg with black truffle paste, on a bed of truffle infused mushrooms. It was a gorgeous, subtle dish that was earthy and the yolk pierced through adding some sunshine. The earthy dish was paired with the Lismore Viognier 2011 (another favourite) that provided an acidity and freshness to the dish was the hints of peaches and apricots.
Finally the starters were done and a palate cleanser was brought to the table: The Garden Pea. The palate cleanser consisted of a matcha and lime with a pea puree. It was a refreshing palate cleanser and fitted in well with the menu. And the peas were from the garden, adding to the ambiance of the hotel.
And with that we were halfway, although quite stuffed, and onto the main course. For mains, we had the option of 3 courses: Bouillabaisse (Kabeljou), Prints in the Paddock (Beef), and Birds of a feather (Quail).
I love quail, so there was no way that I was going to say no to the Birds of a feather. The dish consisted of King Quail that was glazed with raw honey and Balsamic vinegar. Top that off with saffron scented petite tortellini that is stuffed with slow braised Goose and Capon meat and you’ve got a mouth-watering dish. Add to this sweet onions in a red wine sauce. The dish was sweet, slight acidic, and rich. I loved every bite. The birdy (that’s now a word) was paired with the Mont Destin Pasionne (2009). With the heavy dish, the wine added creaminess and further richness.
Lee had the Prints in a Paddock for mains, which consisted of a 36 days matured Angus beef with sumac and a red ivory fruit preserve.The red ivory fruit is from the Red Ivory tree that can be found all over the Francolin Conservancy. Another element from the surrounding areas. The beef was perfectly cooked to medium rate, and the fruits added sweetness. The sumac spices added a hint of tartness to balance out the sweetness. This well-designed dish was paired with the Nederburg Petit Verdot (2001), which added richness and a spiciness to the dish.
With out stomach’s bursting, we moved onto dessert. First up was a cheese selection that was paired with Quinta de crosta port. There’s every variety of cheese available but the highlighted choices were the Epoises de Bourgogne, Belnori Phantom Forest, and Dolcelatte Gorgonzola. Most of the cheese paired well with the port, but as I’m not a fan of port of depth and flavours of the port were wasted on me.
Next for dessert was the Chocolate Cherry. This dessert had a large cherry filled with chocolate on the plate and was surrounded with cherry infused elements. Again, a fantastic mixture of sweetness, sourness and crunch. And it was delightfully light. The dessert was paired with Chateau Septy Monbazillac (2009), which with its fruity bouquet, complimented the cherry and chocolate.
Finally, we were on the Mamelon de Venus. A delicious, light and cruchy choux pastry that was surrounded by Jasmine. It was definitely a Spring dessert: floral and light. And the bright colours of the strawberry and jasmine made it inviting. It was a scrumptious dessert and one that I would travel all the way back to the Restaurant Mosaic for.
AND after all that food there was more: Petits Fours. They were too gorgeous to ignore and we may have finished most of it.
After stuffing ourselves, we made our way up to our room. A steep affair if you’ve drunk all the wine pairings.
Come the Sunday morning and we were still stuffed, but I couldn’t miss an opportunity to see what breakfast would entail. And breakfast was superb. After being seated, a slightly warm herbal, ginger and lemongrass tea was placed in front of you. It was a delicious tea at the right temperature on the warm morning. A pastry tier was also placed on the table.
But that’s not all, a quartet of intriguing dishes were placed in front of us: tropical fruit salad, oats with vanilla and star anise, fig with goats cheese and a herb vinaigrette, and a coconut pannacotta with granadilla jelly. A flavourful start to the day.
After this, our warm breakfast of salmon with scrambles eggs and hollandaise sauce was served. Another well-executed dish.
It’s difficult to find fault with the Restaurant Mosaic or the The Orient. Every detail is thought of and as a guest, of the hotel or the restaurant, you are well taken care of. The service is impeccable. I was a great weekend away. And when the menu changes, I’d love to be back again.
I give Restaurant Mosaic 5 cupcakes. I can forgive the unfortunate pairing with the Iona.
No rating (read: why have you even bothered to open)
Poor (read: shit)
Average (read: meh)
Good (read: above mediocrity)
Very Good (read: fling your money at them. It’s worth it)
Extraordinary (read: if you have to make a sacrifice to be here, do it)