Roots Restaurant, Cradle of Humankind
Roots Restaurant, Cradle of Humankind - A world of taste in one restaurant
Forum Homini is a 5-star luxury hotel in the Cradle of Humankind, located in Maropeng, northwest of Johannesburg. The name Forum Homini means a ‘place for people to talk’…and there is definitely plenty to talk about at this venue. Situated on the Letamo Game Estate, it is surrounded by various eco-environments and is home to a variety of free-roaming animals such as Kudus, Hippos, Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest, Blesbok and Impala. The hotel was designed to blend into its surroundings and plenty of thought went into the design in order to keep it natural, but still luxurious.
The hotel is home to fine-dining restaurant Roots, led by Executive Chef Adriaan Maree; Barbara Holtmann visits and shares her experience with us.
There were a number of hurdles to going to Sunday lunch at Roots. My husband said I could choose where to celebrate my birthday and I had long been tempted by reports about the interesting, innovative food and by the setting, out near the Cradle of Mankind. However, Sunday lunch is a set tasting menu of 6 courses. I don’t drink alcohol or eat anything prepared with alcohol and it’s often the case that the snootier (read more sophisticated) the restaurant, the less accommodating when faced with this challenge. Waiters come back from the kitchen when asked to check if there’s alcohol in the food with a variation on the theme that “there’s only a very little wine in it” or “it’s cooked off before you eat it” and chefs are more likely to be irritated than accommodating. When there’s a set menu, I am often just expected to skip the bits with booze. Another in our party doesn’t eat red meat, making us even more difficult to please. Securing the reservation requires prepayment in full and I knew that would irritate my husband – but I persevered. We warned the concierge in advance about our eating oddities and set off for a festive day in the countryside. As it turns out, it’s only a 45-minute drive from Parktown, no passports or padkos needed.
The setting is lovely, overlooking a dam decorated with Red Bishop birds and Weavers bustling prettily in the reeds. We were warmly welcomed and our Waitress asked straight away which of us had which special preference and assured us that they had prepared for us. They had. The meal that followed was delightful. Each course was a visual delight and a sensory journey. The others said the wine pairings were mostly good (there was some debate about one or two of the wines) and both the Waitress and the Sommelier were informative without being pompous, seeming to enjoy our experience with us.
Each plate was a delicate artwork, from smooth smoked cauliflower soup to kabeljou with a crispy shard of skin to a tiny leg of quail to perfectly pink lamb, each accompanied by jellies, purees, foams and pickles and tiny delicately flavoured vegetable accompaniments to each course. The goat’s cheese ice cream seemed a fine way to end the eating marathon, but with coffee came a gorgeous little chocolate mousse birthday cake to send us into a bout of serious eating exhaustion. There was a slightly rowdy-getting-rowdier table near us and although they hadn’t hassled us at all, our waiter suggested we take our coffee onto the terrace where it was quieter.
Roots is a wonderful place for a celebration – I’m looking forward to finding a celebratory excuse for another visit soon.