Within AtholPlace Hotel, a five star boutique hotel in the heart of vibrant Sandton, is a hidden gem of a restaurant called AtholPlace Restaurant. This restaurant is one of a kind. It is known for its personalised service, refined dining and a gorgeous setting, so it is no wonder it was awarded the best restaurant in Johannesburg.
The Morukuru Family have recently announced the appointment of Omar Koenen as the new head chef of AtholPlace Restaurant. Hailing from the Netherlands, Chef Omar’s passion for food ignited in his teens when his first stint was working weekends. He then trained at various Bib Gourmand and Michelin-rated restaurants in both the Netherlands and Belgium.
While on holiday in Cape Town in 2015 he fell in love with South Africa. He secured himself a position at Cape Town’s most prestigious Ellerman House as sous chef. He then returned to the Netherlands for a year before returning to South Africa to take up a new position at AtholPlace Restaurant.
Chef Omar has a particular passion for the complex flavour combinations found in Asian and Indian foods. He also likes to explore various techniques using foams, espumas and oils. And some of his favourite flavours include saffron and truffle.
Chef’s Table Luncheon
AtholPlace Restaurant has been on my radar and at the top of my foodie list since forever. When I got an invitation to enjoy a chef’s table luncheon with Chef Omar, I most certainly did not hesitate to RSVP a yes within minutes.
We arrived at AtholPlace Hotel about 12 o’ clock on a Wednesday. Upon arrival we were treated to bubbly as well as some very delicious amuse bouche in the intimate bar and library area. From tomato parmesan, to baby taco’s with pulled pork, and lastly beetroot horseradish, we knew with these tasters, Chef Omar was preparing us for an absolute foodie fiesta.
We were then escorted to the restaurant where we were totally wowed. The restaurant overlooks the manicured gardens and a glistening swimming pool surrounded by tropical palm trees. Sitting in the heart of bustling Sandton with a view like this definitely made us feel like we’re on a tropical island somewhere.
Once seated, Chef Omar took us on an absolute culinary journey – one we’ve never quite been on before. It is evident from the flavourful dishes we were served that he has so much passion and enthusiasm in the kitchen.
Everything we ate was beautiful – both visually and taste wise. My personal favourite dish of the day was the starter of squid with kimchi, corn, mirin gel and ponzu. This was served with a glass of Thelema Chardonnay and together the flavours were sublime. We also enjoyed sea bass with sweet potato, saffron, fennel and smoked paprika. On the mains side we enjoyed sweet breads with truffle, shimiji and celery. This was my first time trying sweet breads and after Chef Omar spoiling my tastebuds, this definitely won’t be the last. Another dish that stood out for me was the beef ratatouille – a simple but superb dish served with Delaire Graff Botmaskop.
The best for last … Dessert
For dessert we savoured every spoonful of a mango yoghurt with mascarpone and lime. This was paired with a Lourensford Honey Liquor and it definitely complimented the tangy flavours of the mango yoghurt. We were served dessert in the gorgeous Villa, which was the perfect ending to a perfect luncheon.
The carefully crafted menu changes regularly so every dining experience will be unique and exciting. If this post has left you salivating, then I suggest you make a reservation at AtholPlace Restaurant sooner rather than later.
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