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Controversy clouds the Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa 2012 nominations.

The Cape dominates the list again in the race to find the Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa, with some questionable operating times.

  • Two restaurants only open for dinner 3 days a week and two for 2 days a week
  • Pot Luck Club withdraws, not open long enough!

After months of “nibbling, sipping and munching” their way across South Africa, Eat Out claimed they could barely contain their excitement at finally announcing the 20 nominees for this year’s Top 10.

Looking at the list one is surprised they made it past the wine cellars of Stellenbosch, never mind as far as Pretoria.

the-roundhouse-best-restaurants-south-africa-2011The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, Cape Town, nice mountain views.

mosaic-top-20-nominee-south-africa-restaurantsThe Mosaic at the Orient in Pretoria serves up a starter that lives up to its name. Mosaic is open 4 days a week plus Thursday on request for groups of 10 or more.

While the credentials required to make it into the Top 10 are not abundantly clear, other than having a view of a mountain or a vineyard in your back garden, the restaurants will be judged by Cape Town based, Eat Out Editor, Abigail Donnelly and guest judge, Bruce Palling of the Wall Street Journal and 50 Best Restaurants.

The only three of the Top 20 nominees that conduct their business beyond the borders of the Cape are Johannesburg’s DW Eleven-13, owned by Ultimate Braai Master Judge Marthinus Ferreira, Mooi River’s Hartford House, Jackie Cameron and Mosaic at The Orient up in Pretoria, Chantel Dartnall – voted SA’s Chef of the Year.

What is most distressing however is that several of the restaurants in the Top 20 nominees either don’t have enough business to be open for dinner more than three days a week or simply could not be bothered to open longer. One of the nominees, Babel, is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday! How is it conceivable that a restaurant that is rated so highly can’t get the business?

The truth of the matter is that the restaurant is not the primary business, that is wine. The restaurant is merely a marketing tool to win awards, attract attention and feed tourists visiting the vineyard. That does not a great restaurant make!

A great restaurant should be open for dinner at least five days a week, especially if it is to be considered for the Top 10 Best Restaurants in the country.

A good restaurant will value your patronage and be accessible to you, it is not just about the food and the service… it’s about honesty too!

Two to three days a week for dinner is simply not honest enough to be ranked in the Top 20, never mind the Top 10.


Restaurants ranked in the Top 20 in the country should be open for dinner more than two or three times a week. The quality of the food and service is not being questioned, simply the validity of being in South Africa’s Top 20.

The-Test-Kitchen-2The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town, open five days a week for lunch and dinner! Just like a good restaurant should.

To add further controversy to the 2012 Eat Out Restaurant Awards the Pot Luck Club, owned by Luke Dale Roberts, has had to withdraw from the competition due to it only being open for 11 months and not 12 as stipulated in the rules.

What is not clear is who made the decision, some reports say that Luke voluntarily withdrew while Eat Out are quoted as saying “Luke fully supports our decision and we wish him all the best with the restaurant for 2013″.

More misery is being piled onto the whole process where Whale Cottage Blog reports that the rules stipulate the executive chef must have worked at the restaurant for 1 year in order to qualify. Last year Rust and Vrede was omitted for that very reason when David Higgs left. even though his replacement John Shuttleworth had worked alongside Higgs for more than a year. This year Grande Provence was not evaluated for the this reason while The Roundhouse, which has also seen a change in executive chefs with Chef Eric Bulpitt replacing Chef PJ Vadas has been included.

The final Top 10 will be announced in… you guessed it, Cape Town on Sunday 25th November 2012.

We do extend our hearty congratulations to all those who made it into the Top 20, they obviously did not select themselves and wish them the best of luck.

What are your thoughts on the Cape dominated Top 20 list and the questionable operating times?

The Nominees for Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa 2012

Operating times are from the restaurants websites, click on the links to find out more about them.


Situated on a Wine Estate and only open for lunch Wednesdays to Sundays and for dinner Friday and Saturday evenings, according to their website… go figure?

Bizerca Bistro

Owner operated restaurant on the foreshore, Cape Town… we like that!

Delaire Graff Estate Restaurant

A wine estate…

DW Eleven-13

Owner operated suburban restaurant… we like that. Owned by Marthinus Ferreira, Ultimate Braai Master Judge!

The Greenhouse

At the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Constantia.

Hartford House

Lovely hotel along the Midlands Meander, hard working Jackie Cameron presides!

Open seven days a week, breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Jordan Restaurant

Wine estate, lunch every day of the week and dinner… Thursday Friday, & Saturday only?

La Colombe

Wine estate, open 7 days a week, lunch and dinner… yay! It deserves to be on the list.


A restaurant in a private garden estate, boutique hotel in Stellenbosch


Owned by Bertus Basson, Ultimate Braai Master Judge… but only open for dinner two days a week!.

Pierneef à La Motte

Wine estate, lunch Tuesdays – Sunday’s and dinner Thursday, Friday & Saturday… oh dear!

Planet Restaurant

Mount Nelson Hotel

The Pot Luck Club

Owned by Luke Dale Roberts, see The Test Kitchen.

Withdrew from the competition due to not being open for a full 12 months.

Restaurant Mosaic

Boutique Hotel in Pretoria

The Roundhouse

A proper restaurant!

Rust en Vrede Restaurant

Wine estate, closed Sundays & Mondays only… we can live with that.

The Tasting Room

A luxury hotel where the adjacent restaurant, Le Quartier Francais is ranked 57th in the world.


Wine estate… getting boring but is available to you Monday through Saturday!

The Test Kitchen

Owner operated, stand alone restaurant ranked 74th in the world.


Another proper restaurant

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Andrew Lieber (Ed) (have 515 posts in total)
Suffered from multiple personality disorders for the first year of Gourmet Guys. His primary personality has now taken control! Editor-In-Charge