In the middle of Sandton, amongst the giant skyscrapers that have suddenly spurted up from the rubble, you can find the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel. Being a convenient 55 steps from the Sandton Gautrain station, this hotel is slap bang in the middle of one of the busiest cities in South Africa. From the camera wielding tourists to the business people with their eyes glued to their smartphones, as well as the groups of friends looking for somewhere nice to have a meal, the Central One restaurant at Radisson Blu is conveniently located and offers a small range of delicious meals. They have daily specials for the lunch time crowd, as well as drink specials on a Friday.
The team at Central One was invited to participate in this years Inter Cape Chef Challenge Competition. 21 hotels from Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape were given the brief to create a 3 course meal featuring pork paired with wines from various wine farms. Each region competed internally, and then the top hotel from each region was invited to compete in Cape Town. Chef Zwelithini Tshuma from Central One at the Radisson Blu Gautrain, was the finalist from Gauteng, beating chefs from Level 4 at 54 on bath, the Michelangelo, Protea Hotel Balalaika Sandton and Southern Sun Hyde Park.
I, along with some other Johannesburg Food Bloggers got to sample the meal that was created for the Inter Cape Chef Challenge paired with wines from Plaisir de Merle. The meal was amazing, and I have a strong feeling that Chef Zwelithini has a good chance of winning the competition. The finals will be held on the 25th of July at the Mount Nelson In Cape Town.
A pan fried sea bass with textures of cauliflower, ciabatta crunch, dill and lime made up the first course. Judging by the clean plates, it was very well received. The cauliflower puree was velvety smooth, and made me re consider my hatred towards the vegetable.
Since I cannot stomach seafood (I have tried, its a texture issue – please don’t make me eat it) I was given the beef carpaccio to start my meal instead. Comprised of thin slices of beef fillet, toasted hazelnuts, a warm parmesan croquette, shavings of parmesan, celery and a truffle aioli, this was the best carpaccio I ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. The flavours complimented each other beautifully, and I can highly recommend that you give this dish a try.
The mains were focused around pork, with a braised pork belly, a roast pork fillet, a lentil pork cheek ragout, sweet corn, apple, orange and carrot puree and braised baby vegetables. The pork belly had a layer of crispy crackling, and the roast fillet was delicious. I wasn’t a big fan of the lentil ragout, but the other elements were fantastic. I feel sorry for the poor soul who sat peeling the baby carrots, I’m not sure if I would have the patience to do it.
Dessert, my favourite part of any meal, was the perfect end to a tasty experience. The main ingredient was apples, and it featured some poached apple pieces, apple clouds, strawberries, toasted almonds, a vanilla meringue and a tower of white chocolate mousse. The apple cloud lived up to its name, pillowy soft and apple flavoured. Paired with the strawberry sauce, it was delightful. The white chocolate mousse had an amazing flavour, but I don’t think they took it out of the fridge/freezer early enough as it was still ice cold and a little hard.
Central One has definitely made it on to the list of restaurants I need to eat at again, and since their menu changes seasonally, there will be plenty of opportunities to sample their different dishes.
My meal at Central One was complimentary of Radisson Blu Gautrain. All views expressed are my own.