Two South African restaurants, both in the Western Cape, are among the top 100 restaurants in the world this year.
La Colombe in Constantia in the Mother City was ranked 56th, while Wolfgat in Paternoster on the Cape West Coast was ranked 90th.
The ranking is made by the prestigious The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022. The first course of the world famous La Colombe is already on the table when the guests arrive.
The liquid citrus palate cleanser is served in two small dove eggs, a theme taken from the restaurant’s name which means La Colombe in French.
Back in the kitchen, executive chef James Gaag and his team are busy creating what they call culinary theatre, each dish a gastronomic centrepiece.
This acorn and mushroom contains a truffled chicken liver parfait, soaked in a gel made from candied cherries and wild berry tea.
La Colombe Executive Chef James Gaag says, “So it has a really nice citrus berry flavor with a truffled chicken liver parfait inside a truffle custard underneath. The truffles are locally grown and then the little pie case is made from buckwheat so gluten free, all the things you have to respect these days.
“Then you take the acorn lid off, in the acron lid you have a patty of snoek. So right now there’s a nice snoek race going on in the Western Cape, so we’re smoking our snoek, flake it and make it into a patty. The jelly on top, I call it a Cape Malay jelly but it’s basically, imagine pickled fish. So it’s a jelly that covers the top of the snoek. So you have a patty of snoek with flavors of marinated fish.
Gaag says making the Top 100 list is not only a career milestone, but also a huge feather in the cap for the whole team.
He says presenting mouth-watering dishes in a creative and unique way is part of the goal of ensuring customers walk away with a lasting memory of an exquisite dining experience.
“You’ll see that the menu kind of reflects that, where it was kind of a very strict French and Asian fusion, now you have a Thai-inspired dish and a Mexican-inspired dish, and you know, a very French or whatever, I think the menu is globally inspired, I like to travel and see different cultures and different ways of cooking, so I’m always on the lookout for something different, and I don’t think that it should be tied to a certain style,” Gaag explains.
At 90th Row is the award-winning restaurant Wolfgat in the small fishing town of Paternoster. Established in a 130-year-old fisherman’s house, the restaurant offers diners an intimate West Coast dining experience set in a historic cave.
Named the best restaurant in the world by the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in February 2019 in Paris, diners here will feast on chef Kobus van der Merwe’s gourmet Strandveld menu, featuring sustainably sourced seafood, local meat, veldkos and native herbs.
Provincial authorities have praised the two award-winning restaurants for firmly positioning the Western Cape and South Africa on the global dining scene.
Western Cape Finance and Economic Opportunities Mirielle Wenger says: “This really puts our province on the culinary map and it means more domestic tourism to our province, but it also means that international visitors will come to our province in droves. Already after COVID-19, we are witnessing a very nice recovery in tourism in the Western Cape.
The world’s 50 best restaurants for this year are due to be announced in London on July 18.