If you’re from Johannesburg or Durban, you have to wonder about the inescapable truth that the restaurant awards are governed from the Mother City, and speculate about the possibility that, were the carrier magazine published in Gauteng and its judges mostly based there, the outcome might not be very different.
This dinner is the highlight of the South African foodie calendar and has become a fabulous and very stylish event over the years. But if McCarney didn’t put a word wrong, others did fluff their lines. Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly did the customary thanking of sponsors, including ‘Wild Cock’, quickly correcting herself while the audience convulsed. Wild Peacock may never live that one down.
Reuben Riffel came of age in the sunny Cape winter of 2010. The Franschhoek poor boy-made-good has stepped out of the shadows of others who had bolstered his burgeoning career as a chef and restaurateur, and stepped into clear sunlight.
In that quiet that follows, there is the sound of a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks badmouthing his girlfriend. On a pavement corner there is a trio of coloured boys singing in perfect harmony, with a hat at their feet, while bands of tourists march by unseeing, with their eyes on the next gourmet thrill.
How on earth is 9th Avenue Bistro, which has a nondescript al fresco area overlooking a plain-as-chips parking lot, better than the Tasting Room at le Quartier Francais or Overture with its world-beating view and Margot Janse’s fabulous cuisine? I don’t buy it.