MORE than R40m-worth of refurbishment — "and counting", according to 54 on Bath’s GM, Jacques-Louis Moolman — has worked wonders on this landmark hotel in the heart of Rosebank’s CBD. In its previous incarnation as the Rosebank Grace, it had the look of an English "Gentlemen’s Club" — all dark, wood panelling with solid, overpowering wallpaper and lighting that suggested they were taking this saving electricity thing just a touch too seriously.
Its new look and feel is testament to how space and light can be created within the same physical confines through the use of brighter colours and custom-made white and black-patterned wallpapers — the hallways and public areas feel twice their former size. It has not only been cosmetic improvements, however; all the bathrooms have been completely refitted, something Moolman says was about 10 years overdue.
Perhaps the most radical change is at its new Level Four restaurant, adjacent to the hotel’s new bijou Champagne bar. It is lighter, brighter and with a new menu that should see it becoming a destination restaurant in Rosebank, under the guidance of executive chef Gerard Vingerling.
The beetroot tart with goat’s cheese was punted rather heavily as their signature starter, but was disappointing; cold, so the flavours did not meld, and dry, with too much pastry. However, it was the only false note of the evening. The warm chicken liver pudding was an unctuous parfait, perfectly cooked. The rare beef fillet served with micro greens was excellent, and I heard good reports of the lobster bisque.
The special of the night, pork belly with paprika jus and apple cream, was smoky, succulent and outstanding — no mean feat in a time when pork belly is de rigueur on all South Africa’s menus. The pan-seared duck breast and duck leg confit was excellent and the menu’s nod to vegetarians should appeal to even the most committed carnivores — a chanterelle mushroom omelette with baby spinach and truffle oil.
The small dessert menu offers a good balance of light and fruity to a "traditional sachertorte" and the wine list offers a comprehensive array.
• www.tsogosunhotels.com, (011) 344-8500
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