After going to hundreds of food and booze experiences jammed into the calendar, the food team at Wanted (and our sibling title, Financial Mail) rounded up their epicurean highlights for 2018.
Some of the choices may be controversial — shockingly, not all of them are in Cape Town — and yes, we’ve given an award for the sexiest chef, because, well, we’re not dead! We’ve dished out the kudos where they’re due, and hopefully helped you make your dining and drinking choices (fancy or not) incredibly simple. The pleasure was all ours.
BEST BAKED GOODS
Tonka Bean Bakery, Fourways, Joburg
The almond croissants here are clearly made from fairy-dust dreams and butter — lots of butter. Tip: exceptional for deadline-extension bribery.
BEST ICE CREAM
Unframed, Gardens, Cape Town
If we have to scream for ice cream, then we’re hollering at this Cape Town hipster stronghold. Its ever-expanding selection of largely vegan options is a revelation.
BEST BREAKFAST WITH A VIEW
East Head Café, Knysna
It's got one of the best views on the Garden Route and offers delightful breakfasts in every form and calorie count. Oh, and its service is morning brightening.
BEST HANGOVER FOOD
Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room, City Bowl, Cape Town
The fried-chicken burger situation is manna from heaven when everything else feels like hell.
Banchan, Parkmore, Sandton
Nothing warms our collective hearts like a bowl of Korean noodles from this tiny, authentic spot. It puts the pseudo-Asian places to shame.
The Leopard, Milpark, Joburg
The fuel that runs Wanted HQ. The little buzz bike that ushers in pata plate wraps and vigour bowls from our favourite Joburg deli/restaurant is a godsend that not even EFF protesters can keep us away from.
BEST CONFERENCE FOOD
Convivium, near Malmesbury
Yes, this may be cheating a little bit, as it is a food conference after all. But after the caprese salad sticks at every other meeting this year, it’s hard not to yearn for Luke Dale-Roberts’ goat tacos.
BEST BLOW-THE-BUDGET DINNER
Restaurant Mosaic, Elandsfontein, Pretoria
Best you book a Byzantine-esque room and stay the night. Between the magical food bonanza and the never-ending cellar, you won’t make it anywhere else.
BEST JOURNO HANGOUT
The Blind Tiger, Parkview, Joburg
Got a scoop? A pitch? You know where to find us.
BEST DEADLINE TIPPLE
It got us through the best of times and the worst of times. Our mismatched cups and mugs runneth over with this sterling Japanese whisky.
BEST MAD COCKTAIL
The Sugarbird, Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen, Gardens, Cape Town
We like our cocktails simple, so this bird-shaped-glass-meets-flower monstrosity was too much, but its extreme levels of ridiculousness deserve snaps for sheer audacity.
Father, Braamfontein, Joburg
It’s a contentious decision. Fight us.
BEST WINE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF
Silwervis, Smiley Chenin Blanc
It tastes like the sea, there’s a sheep’s head on the label, and the winemaker wears a kilt. What more do you need?
Paul René MCC Brut Rosé
In terms of homegrown bubbles, you can’t do better than Paul René. Fruity, dry, and wonderful.
BEST SOCIAL-MEDIA FOOD PORN
View this post on Instagram
Dreaming of this summer pancake stack on todays cold blustery Monday morning 🌿✨ Garden tomatoes and basil, wild garlic olive oil drizzle and flowers, camembert and coffee. Image : @gabrielle.holmes 💕 . . . #breakfast #wildfoodlove #pancakestack #veldandsea #gabrielleholmes #foodphotography #instaeascapetown #summervibes
Every photo is a moment of lush wonder beckoning you to the sea.
BEST WINE BAR
Publik, Gardens, Cape Town
Because it sells the aforementioned sheep’s head chenin and other delightful small-batch wines. And its spot off Kloof Nek Road is our Cape Town decompression chamber.
BEST PLACE TO BE SEEN
Gemelli, Bryanston, Joburg
This mainstay continues to be the preferred spot for the hungry, fabulous, and famous. And who can blame them? The grub is on point.
Let’s just say, we’re not only going to Salsify for the ridiculously good food.
BEST DURBS VIBES
Al Firenze, Umhlanga
Don’t forget about KZN, you guys. Sheesh! This is proper home-style Italian deliciousness.
BEST NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Saint, Sandton, Joburg
Art on the ceiling, art on the plate — who knew pizza could be this fancy?
You’ve got to drive far for it, but this mind-alteringly excellent and unpretentious fare is worth it.
BEST FOR ECOLOGICAL VIBES
Diack brings his farm to several tables and we applaud him for every well-loved and truly sustainable ingredient. More of this, please.
BEST SEAT IN TOWN
On the pass at the Test Kitchen, Woodstock, Cape Town
We know the right people — what can we say?
BEST JOBURG RESTAURANT
Farro, Illovo, Joburg
This glittering new star of the South African food scene has shaken things up with its oft-changing, casual fine dining. Nab a standing weekly reservation there — and thank us later.
BEST CAPE TOWN RESTAURANT
La Tête, City Bowl, Cape Town
Our hearts and minds belong to chef Giles Edwards and his chicken hearts, devilled kidneys, and brains on toast.
- From the December edition of Wanted.