Rainbow nation

The Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff could easily pass for a hilltop villa in Tuscany for its pale peach façade framed by lush green foliage. In Spring the tableau is more typical of suburban Johannesburg, when Jacaranda trees produce a sea of purple blooms. The hotel’s enviable setting in this exclusive enclave comes with 240-degree vistas of manicured gardens, the Johannesburg Zoo and the city’s horizon.

Johannesburg is a major gateway for business and leisure travel across the ‘Rainbow Nation’ and the continent, and those staying at the Four Seasons expect, among other things, food of the highest standard. No worries, because the hotel’s three main restaurants – Flames, View and the Cellar Door, are in good hands. Head Chef Dirk Gieselmann brings to the table a bundle of passion and experience, having worked at Michelin-starred restaurants La Réserve de Beaulieu, Le Negresco, and Le Cirque, and as executive chef at the three Michelin-star Auberge de l’Ill in Alsace.

The menu at Flames Restaurant reflects the South African spirit and zest for life – plenty of quality meat, fresh seafood, robust flavours and textures – peppered with European and Eastern influences. Perfect examples are the Springbok carpaccio with black truffle oil, Ostrich tournedos “Rossini” with foie gras, Karoo lamb chops marinated with thyme and garlic, and succulent grill favourites cooked in the outdoor braai kitchen. The terrace dining area has a relaxed but jovial vibe that attracts both the young trendy crowd and well-heeled denizens.

Over at the View restaurant, Chef Dirk and his team get their creative juices flowing in the aptly named ‘gallery of culinary art’, where the contemporary menu showcases well thought-out pairings of flavours and textures, fresh seasonal ingredients, and dishes presented with panache. To round-off the experience, each dish can be paired with wine from an extensive collection.

The subtle sweetness of the roasted organic Mozambican prawn is balanced by a tender terrine of carrots, coriander pesto and orange reduction. Complement this light starter with a subtle hint of raspberry, sweet guava and red cherries from a Morgenster Caruso 2015 rosé’ (Stellenbosch). A chorizo-crusted seared monkfish fillet becomes more tempting with a chickpea mousseline and pepper ragout of fresh mussels and calamari. The Salmon Trout with Crayfish Ravioli, described as ‘the best from Lesotho highlands’ and served with glazed eel and herb butter, bursts with distinct flavours and freshness. Pair this with Estéanna white 2012 (a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Viognier (Reitvallei Estate, Robertson), winner of the ISWC Silver Medal in 2014.

Special occasions and wine tastings for up to 20 people are best celebrated at the Cellar Door, and because the View Restaurant was chosen by Champagne house Moët Hennessy as the first Dépositaire of Dom Pérignon Champagne in South Africa, guests can now sample the brand’s exclusive and rare vintages. Set on the property’s pinnacle, dining at either the Flames or View restaurant guarantees panoramic views. The sunsets are spectacular, and so too are the lightning and thunder from distant storms that occasionally turn the night sky into a dramatic light show.