Calisto’s, Bedford Centre Piazza, cnr Smith and Van de Linde Rd, Bedfordview. Tel: 084 523 5232/ 084 460 6657: Having recently opened another branch in Bedfordview, Calisto’s Portuguese restaurant always offers a good time. They’re not open over Christmas, though, but brace yourself for New Year’s Eve when they will be hosting a party costing about R450 a head, which includes a three-course meal and a glass of cap classique. Restaurants off the piazza will be joining in the festivities and there will be DJs playing till late.
Cantare, Montecasino, Montecasino Boulevard, Fourways. Tel: 011 5110505: How about a dinner-dance experience at Cantare supper club? Renowned for a fun adult night out, Cantare is offering its à la carte menu over Christmas, as well as a platter with gammon and roast leg of lamb and vegetables. On New Year’s Eve, things are stepped up a bit with a masked ball, live entertainment, bubbly and a five-course meal. Cost for that is R850.
Central One, Radisson Blu Gautrain, cnr Rivonia Rd and West St, Sandton. Tel: 011 286 1000: With last year’s Eat Out Chef of the Year David Higgs (formerly of Rust en Vrede outside Stellenbosch) now running their kitchens, Central One’s become Jozi’s It restaurant. And if you have money to burn afterwards, you could head upstairs to ZAR nightclub to let off some steam. Central One will be offering their à la carte as well as a set menu over Christmas. The set menu includes ponzu-cured salmon; buratta cheese in a fresh tomato gazpacho; sous vide turkey breast with a cranberry and Sichuan pepper gel and a tortellini of chestnut and thyme; turkey leg with a corn sponge and jellied beets; fillet of beef; parfait of Christmas pudding, whisky tea, marshmallows and mint and cherry and berry “trifle”. Cost is R550 a head.
La Belle Terrasse, The Westcliff, 67 Jan Smuts Ave, Westcliff. Tel: 011 481 6000: The “pink palace” boasts not only one of the best views in the city, but does things in grand style. This year, Christmas Eve dinner at La Belle Terrasse will include a four-course set menu, a Father Christmas with surprises and party favours. Christmas Day is similar, but New Year’s Eve will take advantage of the view with fireworks in the distance, a DJ, and a dance floor. This year’s theme is the Beatles, so come dressed up to win prizes. Christmas Eve: R540 an adult, R270 a child under 12; New Year’s Eve: R720 an adult. No kids.
La Madeleine, 122 Priory Rd, Lynn-wood Ridge, Pretoria. Tel: 012 361 3667: Three decades in the business have put chef-proprietor Daniel Leusch’s French-Belgian restaurant at the top of Pretoria’s fine dining scene. Over Christmas and New Year, the set menu has wild mushroom soup, seafood risotto, duck with red wine and chestnuts, and profiteroles with chocolate sauce. Choice of four main course options. Set menu costs R190, gratuity not included. Kids are charged according to what they eat.
Ou Pastorie, Route 560, Skeerpoort. Tel: 012 207 1027: An intimate guest house built around an 1880s pastoral home in the Harties area, the Ou Pastorie will be serving an alfresco Italian-inspired menu, encompassing vitello tonnato (veal with tuna and capers); turducken; duck pie; gammon with honey sauce; Christmas pudding and chocolate fondant. Accommodation’s mostly booked already, but you might want to take a drive into the countryside – or find them if you’re staying in the area. Christmas lunch: R190, kids R110.
Saagries, 150 cnr West and Maude sts, Sandton. Tel: 011 783 1589 or 082 388 9978: If you want to spice up your festive season, why not head for Saagries, an upmarket Indian curry house in the heart of Sandton? Having cooked for luminaries such as Madiba, JZ, King Goodwill Zwelithini and others, Saagries moved to Joburg from Durban a year ago. The food’s spicy, with a focus on flavour, not heat. Both northern and southern Indian cuisines are available. They’re offering vegetarian, seafood and meat menus over the festive period, ranging in price from R180 to R250. A range of Indian treats, from vegetarian thali platters, briyani, butter chicken to tandoori items will be available. Christmas puds and Indian sweets (such as goolab jamin, a condensed milk dumpling; soolji, mealie meal pudding; and kulfi, ice cream), will hit the sweet spot.
San Deck and Vin mmx, The Sandton Sun, cnr Fifth and Alice Streets, Sandton. Tel: 011 780 5235: The revamped Sandton Sun has it all: incredible food, a brilliant view and gorgeous looks. At Vin mmx, the Christmas Eve menu is a five-course treat with sea-farmed scallops, meze, Earl Grey tea-steamed and slow roasted turkey, sea bass, roast lamb, and chicken and duck galantine, as well as a range of puddings (costs R325 a person). Christmas lunch, served in San, includes entertainment, Santa and a gingerbread house for the kids (R375 adults). Children pay R10 multiplied by the age. New Year’s Eve is very festive with a sushi station, an oyster bar, a seafood buffet, a chocolate fondue and live entertainment. Costs R425.
The Rambling Vine, Mount Grace Country House & Spa, Rustenburg Rd, Magaliesburg: Tel: 014 577 5600: Take a drive to the countryside to relax a little. On Christmas Day, the menu ranges from waterblommetjie bredie to four roasts, oxtail and fish, hazelnut and date bitter chocolate brownies, wild berry panna cotta with Frangelico syrup and fruit cake. New Year’s Eve is rather more exotic, with shark loin (I didn’t realise it was legal) served with squid ink tagliatelle and a liquorice cream sauce; and duck breast and rice noodle spring roll with a green banana and mango salsa. Cost: Christmas lunch: R650, New Year’s Eve: R750.
The River Deck Country Estate, 35 Peter Rd, Honeydew. Tel: 087 940 9920/082 414 5129: This rambling restaurant/pub complex beside a river is an incredible venue for everything from live music events to lunch with the family. They have two options over Christmas: a traditional Christmas menu and an SA one. The former includes turkey, gammon, potjies, beef and lamb, with dessert ranging from trifle to mince pies, while the latter has curry bunnies (vetkoek with curried mince); lamb, pork and impala spit braais; two potjies with paptert; Christmas pud, melktert, koeksisters and peppermint crisp tart. Both menus cost R250. Bookings can be made through Computicket or call 087 940 9920.
Catharina’s, 10802 Steenberg wine estate, Tokai Rd, Constantia: Tel: 021 713 2222: Another special restaurant, Catharina’s is already booked out for Christmas Day, but there is some availability on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Christmas Eve’s menu includes seared Chalmar beef and oxtail terrine; butter-poached tiger prawns; loin of smoked and grilled springbok; Valhrona chocolate panforte; and a coffee and truffle plate. Cost is R695 a head (vegetarian menu costs the same). On New Year’s Eve things are stepped up a notch with a DJ providing entertainment, and a menu including olive-crusted salmon trout, a variation of lamb (lamb carpaccio, lamb tartare and lamb croquette); and a chocolate nemesis (three-berry terrine, jasmine espuma). Cost is R1 195 a person. An optional extra is to add 50 percent of the menu price for a wine pairing menu.
Mont Rochelle Hotel and Vineyards, Dassenberg Rd, Franschhoek: Tel: 021 876 2770: The hotel’s offering Christmas and New Year’s celebrations at its two restaurants: Mange Tout (the fine dining option) and the more informal cellar door restaurant, the Country Kitchen, with the option of picnics on the lawns or next to the dam. On Christmas Eve Mange Tout will present a six-course set menu (R590 a person), with tiger prawns, gammon and Christmas trifle. The Country Kitchen will serve a three-course Christmas lunch with dishes such as spiced yellowfin tuna served with orange compôte and avocado; lamb; and cassata (R380 a person). At Mange Tout, there will be a five-course Christmas Day set menu (R470), or you could take a picnic basket for two from the Country Kitchen (R320 for two, including a bottle of the estate’s wine). On New Year’s Eve the two restaurants will be hosting a vintage party at Mange Tout and The Country Kitchen will have a Mardi Gras. Mange Tout’s five-course set menu will cost R900 a person, and Country Kitchen’s three-course New Year’s Eve set menu R380 a person.
The One&Only, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel: 021 431 5800: The One&Only’s two restaurants, Reuben’s and Nobu, are not cheap, but if you want to splurge, it’s worth considering. The hotel will be “dressing up” its public spaces in the Nutcracker theme. Starting on December 16, their afternoon tea in the Vista Lounge will be offering cakes, cupcakes, fruit tarts, meringues, Florentines, traditional European Christmas cookies, macaroons and savouries. Costs R145 a person with teas and coffees. Reuben’s will be hosting a buffet on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, featuring more than a dozen starters such as house-cured salmon gravadlax; West Coast oysters; and foie gras and chicken liver parfait. A few of the “main events” on the buffet will be traditional honey-glazed ham; roast turkey; stuffed pork belly with apple and vanilla sauce; and pepper-crusted sirloin with Yorkshire pudding. For dessert, guests can enjoy Cape brandy pudding; blueberry and sherry trifle; and pavlova. The cost for these buffets is R675 a person for dinner, and R695 for lunch (R125 for 7-12 years, and R400 for teens 13-17 years). At Nobu, the renowned Japanese chef’s signature dishes will be available with a glass of bubbly, for R2 100 a person. Or ring in the New Year at Reuben’s, with a set menu featuring langoustine, salmon, duck, milk-fed veal, and strawberries and a glass of bubbly for R1500 a person.