A feast for mind, body and soul, The Orient Boutique Hotel is a place to truly relax and unwind and Restaurant Mosaic is a place to enjoy a gastronomic experience like no other.
Chantel Dartnall’s new spring menu at Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient is a beautiful, inspiring work of culinary art. Lauren Hills visits her restaurant nestled in the Crocodile River Valley, Elandsfontein to enjoy a tranquil afternoon of incredible food paired with exquisite wines.
When you are in the thick of the hubbub of Joburg life, often driving over 30 minutes just to get to work, it is hard to imagine that just 45 minutes out of the city is a place that is not only beautifully set in nature, but is home to one of South Africa’s top restaurants, wine cellars and boutique hotels too.
Restaurant Mosaic, set in the Moorish Orient Boutique Hotel, has a distinctive Moroccan/Middle Eastern feel, with plush Persian carpets and intricate artworks throughout. Romantic and unique, the hotel and restaurant takes you back to a world of Art Nouveau classic elegance, which is inspired by Chantel’s experience living and working in Paris.
Chantel is celebrated both internationally and locally for her botanical cuisine – her use of flowers and garden-grown herbs and vegetables in her dishes. She is also known for how exquisitely intricate and beautiful her food is; every dish is created with the utmost care and each plate makes perfect sense, both in taste and visual appeal.
While Chantel’s cuisine is exceptional all year round, it is in spring where nature’s bounty seems to lend itself most perfectly to her creativity and skill as a chef. Like a painter with every shade of paint at hand, Chantel has a glut of ingredients available to her, allowing her style of cuisine to truly blossom.
“I enjoy discovering nature’s pickings, the inspiring pleasures of peeling the new vegetables and fruits of spring. I try new blends, new contrasts every day. I want to go further, but in the same time simplify my cuisine,” says Chantel in the foreword of her new menu.
Her new spring menu, titled Nature’s Nuances, is a showcase of Chantel’s love of art and nature and how she inspired by the freshest, local ingredients. The grande degustation menu, which will be available until mid-December 2012 is designed to tempt the eye and tantalise the taste buds, and it most certainly does both.
Our taste adventure began with a cream cheese and zucchini mousse, which was encased in a crisp, slightly blanched, thinly sliced zucchini. The dish was finished off with drizzle of blitzed zucchini dressing and a yellow pansy; a bright, fresh expression of spring on a plate.
Next up was the Mondrian, a dish inspired by the linear-style work of artist Piet Mondrian, which is a layering of different flavoured jellies. From the parmesan jelly base to the balsamic vinegar strips, and red, green and yellow pepper jellies, it is geometry of flavours and melt-in-the-mouth texture.
The next dish, the Chagall’s goat’s cheese curd with lemon confit, was presented on a beautiful porcelain platter adorned with a replica of a Chagall painting. The medley of colourful vegetables include a deliciously pickled carrot, green asparagus spear and two towers of goat’s cheese curd wrapped in a lemon confit.
The piece de resistance of the menu, however, was a dish simply titled By the Sea Side. A seascape on a plate – this platter brought together a heady lobster bisque, a scallop puree in the shell, a lightly crumbed prawn and an oyster with a slightly sweet and frothy topping.
Following this platter was another treat from the sea; Mauritian sea bass served with the most exquisite lemongrass infused tomato consommé. We were spooning out extra helpings of the consommé long after the sea bass was finished.
While we were still reeling from the incredible flavours and beautiful presentations, the immense cheese trolley was rolled in; a fantastic selection of local cheeses, as well as those from across the globe. With so much choice in front of us, we were happy to select Chantel’s ‘parade of cheese’, where you are in very good hands with her special selection served with dried lavender, pear and macadamia nut bread and a selection of preserves.
And for dessert… while you can hardly imagine fitting in pudding after such an adventure of food, Chantel’s light and refreshing spring desserts are divine. You can choose between a peach Bellini, made from peaches picked from Chantel’s garden and served with verbena-scented sorbet or the rose-infused panna cotta with rhubarb and berries.
Each course was masterfully paired with wine chosen by Mosaic’s sommelier, Cape Wine Master, Junel Vermeulen. The Orient’s wine cellar is a cave of delights that holds some of the most unique international wines to be found in this country, as well as a very special selection of the best of South African wines.
A feast for mind, body and soul, The Orient Boutique Hotel is a place to truly relax and unwind and Restaurant Mosaic is a place to enjoy a gastronomic experience like no other. If you have a celebration coming up soon, the Nature’s Nuances menu, paired to perfection with wines from their cellar, will definitely be a dining experience to remember.
An incredible fine dining experience.