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Destination Five Hundred

The restaurant inside the Hotel Saxon in Johannesburg is probably the best in the country

16-07-2015

The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa in Johannesburg is a super luxurious hotel offering the utmost comfort to its clients. Among the highlights, there’s certainly its gourmet restaurant Five Hundred run by chef David Higgs originally from Namibia

Located inside the luxurious Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg, Five Hundred is perhaps the best restaurant in South Africa, still not acknowledged as it would deserve, probably because it is not in Cape Town, the homeland of South African gourmands. Once you enter Five Hundred, you could very well be in any cosmopolitan capital.

The setting is cosy, with few tables (you need to reserve long in advance), everything here is looked after with extreme care: from the decor to the tablecloths, to the glasses. The kitchen is open view but very quiet. The chef is Namibian David Higgs who arrived in South Africa many years ago and has a long career and has won many awards, in South Africa and beyond.

Just to name the most prestigious one, Higgs was in the S.Pellegrino 100 Best from 2009 till 2011, and we hope to find him again very soon. He’s an extremely kind and available chef, who moved to Johannesburg from Cape Town in 2011 in search for new stimuli and his professional growth is unquestionable. Before moving here, he was the Executive Chef at Rust En Vriede, a prestigious wine estate in Stellenbosch.

David Higgs in the kitchen with his collaborators

David Higgs in the kitchen with his collaborators

David Higgs received all the possible support from the Saxon Hotel in order to turn Five Hundred into a restaurant of the highest quality. You can notice this right from the wine list, the most significant in South Africa, with a very remarkable international selection. But of course you don’t come to Five Hundred just for the wine.

David Higg’s cooking is indeed interesting, innovative, complex and with a great visual impact. In this sense, perhaps the most beautiful dish is Foie Gras and deep reds, in which foie gras is served with strawberries, beetroot, raspberries and rhubarb, creating a very remarkable contrast of colours. The menu has a wide range of ingredients, from foie gras to local products such as waterblommetjie (a local vegetable) or impala meat or kabeljou, a local fish similar to sea bass.

Impala tartare with egg yolk emulsion and pea oil

Impala tartare with egg yolk emulsion and pea oil

The dishes are very well balanced and have the right quantity of flavours and ingredients, something rather rare in South Africa where many chefs tend to put too many ingredients in the same dish, confusing the palate. To give an idea of David Higgs’s cooking: Impala tartare with egg yolk emulsion and pea oil, Springbok and guinea fowl with mushrooms and Jerusalem artichokes, Kabeljou with celeriac, asparagus and fish stock, Lamb with kohlrabi (a variety of turnip) and lovage.

Most vegetables and herbs come from the hotel’s vegetable gardens and there are many options for vegetarians such as the Pea mousse with wasabi and turnip fudge or Beetroot preserved in salt, with Venere rice and rhubarb. Desserts include unusual pairings such as Babà with Campari or Rhubarb and apples with goat cheese and white chocolate. Local cheese has a separate place in the menu and deserves to be tasted. The service is impeccable and the help of the sommelier is extremely pleasant, professional yet discreet, despite the significance of the wine list.


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Giovanna Sartor