The very first time I spotted a post on Epicure, it featured a seared tuna dish. My first reaction was exactly this: “Is this African cuisine?”. So I was wondering about whether or not to try the restaurant. Nevertheless, my curiosity definitely got the better of me and when the stars aligned to allow me a visit, I was extremely pleased. I also decided that I’d take my Tall Dark & Handsome along for the ride as he’s tasted African cuisine from all over the continent and would have appreciation for what was in store.
Though locating the restaurant was a bit of a challenge, we managed to get there with some assistance. I was struck by the elegance of the decor, and the unique flair of a sumptuous deep blue colour scheme. This colour was mesmerising to me. It’s lovely in the light of day but probably quite dark in the evening. In terms of my own personal tastes, this was my favourite element of the general look and feel.
We finally got to mooning over the menu, after spending ages just checking out the restaurant interior. Choosing dishes turned into quite the exercise. We wanted to try so much of the menu! A truly unique offering, the dishes they serve are one-of-a-kind. I have never seen a menu quite like it anywhere in Jo’burg, and I love it! Pan African with a modern twist, as per Matteus, our waiter.
After agonising for far too long, we finally settled on starting with two dishes from the “Share Share” menu, which I suppose we saw as starters. The portions were probably a little too big to just be a starter and that’s worth keeping in mind for next time. I opted for the Moelas Com Gindungo, being a fan of chicken gizzards and eating it fairly regularly. This Angolan-style dish is served with a chilli relish, the heat of which is mild at first but grows as you enjoy the dish.
Tall Dark & Handsome went for the Ndagala Tanganika, as he’s always up for any kind of fish dish. This dish consists of deep-fried whitebait with red palm emulsion. It’s the featured image of the article and definitely wins first prize for it’s great look. Best of all, it was my highlight, and insanely moreish. I was quite happy when TDH suggested we swap plates so we could share share. I ate quite a bit of his dish. The crispy fish is perfectly complemented by the turmeric-tasting (and looking) emulsion. I could have this every day!
When it came to mains, I was torn between having the guinea fowl and the goat. After mulling it over for a while, I decided that fowl was not the way for me and finally went with the goat. The dish is described as West African-style goat meat with a side of pepe-spiced broth, on a bed of wonderfully sweet plantain mash. This has to be the best goat dish I’ve had in a restaurant thus far. Goat can be tough and taste dry if not prepared well, but this was both tender and succulent. The plantain was amazing! I had only a little bit of the broth, as the meal was already quite flavourful on its own.
Staying with his trend, Tall Dark & Handsome ordered the Deconstructed Tieboudienne. This was where the tuna (as indicated on the menu) was about to make its appearance. I was intrigued! But alas, Matteus informed us that the dish was available with cod instead. This didn’t dissuade TDH and once his meal arrived, we both agreed that the cod seemed like a great fit. We did not miss the tuna at all. His dish is described as Senegalese-inspired, and was served with rice complimented by an okra and tamarind sauce. He was over the moon, and enjoyed his fish main immensely. I took a few bites and though it was delicious, I was much more keen on my goat main. There was thus not a lot of “share share” on mains.
As is our habit, we skipped dessert. We both eyed the breakfast menu and have agreed that we absolutely have to go back to try some of the intriguing options. I like the idea of the Mombasa Breakfast dish, or even the Cape Creole, a Huguenot-style croissant filled with San-style imifino wild leaves, caught my eye!
Epicure is a marvelous breath of fresh air in the Jozi food scene! Modern interpretations of tastes from all over Africa. If you enjoy your “same same” from Mugg & Bean or restaurant chains, I would not recommend it for you. However, if you love the continent and enjoy trying new tastes, you absolutely must visit to experience “the pleasure of fine food and drink”.
More About Epicure
Situated in the heart of Sandton, Epicure restaurant boasts 160 seats including terraced tables, a 40 seater private dining room and a walled, lush, lawn perfect for picnics. Epic Bar and Cure Deli compliment the culinary chic. Exquisite décor, superb service and fine food accompany breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night African Street Food.
Multi-award winning chef Coco Reinarhz is African epicurean elegance personified. World citizen and son of our soil, his work always engages with what it means to be African in a global gourmet context. With a childhood spent at his mother’s side in her restaurant in Kinshasa and a formal training at the Ecole Hotelière de Namur in Belgium, Coco is uniquely qualified to lead the new wave of African cuisine.
Menus change according to the chef’s inclination but consistently offer a taste of our time and space. Coconut-basted crabs pay homage to the wonders of West African seafood. Slow-cooked Nguni oxtail serve southern African comfort and luxury. Magnificent mabele (sorghum) topped with wild mushrooms include vegan, low GI and gluten intolerants in the gastronomic journey.
Epicure’s exceptional wine collection includes South African, French and New World gems. Chef Coco and the team of sommeliers are on hand to offer food-wine pairing advice. Begin with ginger smoked beef and lush, seductive Viognier. End in the honey hued glories of Constantia.
Epic’s rum focus brings the African Diaspora home in style. Oak aged excellence abounds. Cocktail adjacent gourmet gaps can be soothed and satisfied with a blissful bar menu. And what is life without bubbly? Epicure offers a sparkling selection second to none. Laurent Perrier Special Cuvee and Champagne Salon for the Champagnophiles and Ace of Spades Armand de Brignac for the fashionistas.
Epicure offers one of the finest cigar selections in the city. Our state of the art humidor features the likes of Hoyo de Monterrey Épicure #2, Opus X and La Glorian Cubana Serie R.
Epicure Restaurant; 3-5 Lower Road, Morningside, 2196, Sandton, Gauteng; www.epicurerestaurant.co.za;
T: 010 594 5336