Original  20pr luke 20dale roberts 20at 20the 20saxon 2011a 20%28hr%29.jpg?1491436087?ixlib=rails 0.3

A chef shares his perspective on Johannesburg’s food renaissance.

Cape Town-based chef Luke Dale-Roberts talks about his new restaurant in Johannesburg's iconic Saxon Hotel and sheds light on Joburg's evolving culinary scene. 

Tell us about your restaurant, Luke Dale Roberts X The Saxon.

I did a pop-up at the iconic Saxon Hotel in 2016, and it was so successful that I opened it permanently. There isn’t much fine dining in Johannesburg, so I’m happy to fill that spot. The hotel’s aesthetic is modern African, and the restaurant’s design follows suit: There are handpainted indigenous flowers on the walls by South African artist Shaune Rogatschnig, and we use crockery by local ceramicist John Bauer. We also added a few grande dame–style touches, such as wood paneling and brass fixtures.

How do you incorporate South African ingredients into your dishes?
I like to experiment with fynbos [vegetation indigenous to South Africa’s western Cape], but you need to be careful how you use it, because it can be very medicinal in flavor. One example of that would be buchu leaves, which I use in cures and oils. We use a lot of wild game, such as springbok, and local seafood, including snoek, which is an ugly little fish that’s not well known overseas. We smoke it and make a pâté out of it.

What should guests order?
There’s a fantastic springbok tartare with leek ash mayonnaise, and we have a sea bass tartare that’s served with lovage pesto. I’ve added a crab, ginger, coriander, and corn ravioli, and bok choy with a light kimchi dressing.

article continues below ad

How does the dining scene in Joburg compare to Cape Town?
Cape Town and the Winelands that surround it still offer the most cutting-edge dining, but that’s changing. Great chefs are conquering the Joburg scene. Chef David Higgs, formerly of the Saxon, has opened Marble. EB Social Kitchen & Bar in the suburb of Hyde Park has an Australian chef, Russell Armstrong, who does Pacific Rim–inspired cuisine—quite a refreshing addition.

>>Next: There's a Secret Local Hangout in This Famous Napa Restaurant