The prestigious American Express Platinum Awards, which recognise restaurants for consistent excellence in service and food, were held in Cape Town on September 23, in conjunction with Nedbank. This year 95 restaurants, a record number, were awarded for their efforts and a number of first-time situations arose.
- the highest number of awards in a single year – 95 – up from 83 last year
- the highest number of new entrants receiving awards – 17 – in any single year since the inaugural awards of 1998
- 7 restaurants received their 10th Award and were added to the Roll of Honour
- the widest footprint to date: the awards now cover 7 of South Africa’s 9 provinces
The restaurants were judged by a dedicated team, consisting of a handful of principle judges, including restaurant critic, Victor Strugo, publisher and author Tamsin Snyman and author, journalist and broadcaster Anna Trapido. They were assisted by a panel of experienced restaurant reviewers.
These sought-after awards, which have been running for 16 years have a strong focus on fine-dining, although, as the judges point out, their concept of fine-dining reaches far beyond the Eurocentric understanding of the term.
As Strugo points out, ‘The common link that encompasses all these genres as ‘Fine’ is the consistency in striving for excellence – of ingredients, of cooking skills, of food presentation, of menu and wine list construction and harmonisation, of décor that complements identity, of service and hospitality. This adds up to overall professionalism.’ There are no limits however, on what this identity is: champagne flutes and white linen restaurants serving European fare are as welcome as quirky off-the wall places serving ethnic African cuisine for example.
While it’s widely acknowledged that fine-dining was a pigeon-holed genre of restaurants, the industry’s attitudes to it are changing and the American Express Platinum Awards have embraced a newer take on fine-dining. Strugo states, ‘Awards often focus on the snob appeal of cutting-edge cuisine and luxurious glitz. But fashion is fleeting. Instead we seek – and see – excellence wherever it consistently manifests and that includes exclusive high end establishments but also the dining mainstream. In both cases we are seeing the creativity of new trend-setters, tranquil as well as lively venues and every type of ethnic expression. The key is quality and the fact that fine dining can be fun – and vice-versa!’
Some of the 2014 Award winners listed with Dining-OUT
- Johannesburg: Balata, Bellgables, Bukhara, DW11-13, Il Tartufo, Jazz Maniacs (Soweto), La
Campagnola, La Cucina di Ciro, Osteria Tre Nonni, Signature, Sophia’s Bistro, Thava, Wombles, Yamato.
- Cape Peninsula: Aubergine, Azure, Bistro Sixteen82, Bombay Brasserie, Buitenverwachting, Bukhara, Constantia Uitsig, GOLD Restaurant, The Greenhouse, Haiku, La Colombe, Myoga, Nobu, Savoy Cabbage, Signal
- Cape Winelands: 96 Winery Road, Bosman’s, Bread & Wine, Grande Provence, The Pavilion
- KwaZulu-Natal: Ile Maurice
- Garden Route: La Locanda (George), Zinzi at Tsala (Plettenberg Bay), Pembreys
- Pretoria: Geet, La Pentola, Ritrovo Ristorante, Zemara
- Free State: De Oude Kraal, Seven on Kellner
Check out these award-winning restaurants and more at www.dining-out.co.za.