Ilaria and I had the privilege of attending a “foodie meet up” this past week, hosted by the wonderful people from Zomato at The Winehouse in Dunkeld. It is the second collaboration between Zomato and The Winehouse (hence the double x); we were absolutely thrilled to be included in the evening, allowing us chance to taste some of the best fine dining available in the City of Gold.

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If you are not yet acquainted with The Winehouse it is situated in the boutique hotel, 10 Bompas Design Hotel (the name = the address). Bompas Road, to many of us traffic-weary city folk, exists only as a thoroughfare road between the suburbs and Jan Smuts; and why, upon arriving, we were both quite astounded by the expansive property complete with rolling green lawns. Instantly, we felt transported out of a rush-hour, load-shed’ed Jo’burg to a tranquil city escape.

Amanda – the exceptionally gracious manager – filled us in with a brief history of the hotel, the name of the restaurant (designated after the stunning Amy Winehouse portrait displayed in the main dining room) and the aim of the establishment – affordable fine dining – before we were served homemade with hummus and an incredible burnt butter.

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As much as I enjoy fine dining, the one thing that always scares me is the weird and ‘wonderful’ ingredients used in the dishes. Especially things like offal. I know it’s trendy but I honestly cannot pretend to want to taste any strange animal part that may, or may not, be used for bodily functions. However, the menu at The Winehouse appears to focus on produce and offers enough of a selection (4 starters, 5 mains) for even the fussier eater to find a suitable meal.

Ilaria’s starter of duck in red miso broth was fantastic – the duck tender, the broth fragrant, and while my starter (asparagus, poached egg with lemon oil) was well-cooked and beautifully presented, I am not sure I would order it again if the duck was available on the menu. In other words, try the duck!

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Mains, however, were the star of the evening – my lamb rump was cooked to pinkish perfection, faultlessly seasoned and complimented with spinach and apple. The pork belly – complete with hock crackling – produced more than a few “aaahs” around the table as it was served; definitely going back to try this dish! The portions were not huge – fine dining is more about the appreciation of flavours in any case – but certainly generous enough to be satiated after three courses.

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The dessert can be measured in one of two ways – by me, a dessert-fiend, or by Ilaria “not a dessert person” (*flashing quotation marks in the air, because really, how can you not be a dessert person?!). In either case, dessert-lover or not, the deconstructed trifle was excellent. Each element on the plate complemented and enhanced one another superbly.

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What I truly enjoyed the most about the evening was the laid-back atmosphere of the restaurant – most fine dining establishments in Joburg tend to feel uptight and borderline pretentious. The Winehouse has a more accessible nature to it – reflected in the price (R280 for 3 courses!), the menu and the ambiance.

Zomato presented The Winehouse with a User’s Choice Award for the category “Try Before you Die” and based on the excellent meal, and attentive service (special mention here for Abby to looking after us so well!) I would tend to agree with these other Zomato followers.

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Ilaria and I both loved every minute of the evening – despite being our first ‘event’ we were amazed at the warmth of all those present at the dinner. The Winehouse now joins my own personal top 10 restaurant list in Jo’burg – I would be as happy dining here for a special celebration as I would be over a lazy lunch. Executive Chef, Johannes De Bruijn and team have upped the stakes in the fine dining game – long may it live!

Our thanks to the Zomato team and The Winehouse for hosting us last week.

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