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EAT OUT AWARDS: Top 20 Announced


The most anticipated Awards event for many of South Africa’s chefs is the The Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards (or “The food Oscars” to many) and the nominees for top spot are out.

  1. Mosaic at The Orient -Gauteng
  2. Foliage -Franschhoek
  3. The Kitchen at Maison -Franschhoek
  4. The Greenhouse Restaurant at Cellars-Hohenort -Cape Town
  5. Camphors at Vergelegen-Somerset West
  6. Overture at Hidden Valley-Stellenbosch
  7. Chefs Warehouse -Cape Town CBD
  8. The Tasting Room -Franschhoek
  9. Hartford House- Kwazulu Natal (click to see our recent food journey at Hartford House)
  10. Rust en Vrede-Stellenbosch
  11. The Restaurant at WaterkloofSomerset West
  12. NOBU-Cape Town
  13. Pot Luck Club-Cape Town
  14. La ColombeCape Town
  15. Terrior– Stellenbosch
  16. DW 11-13-Gauteng
  17. Indochine-Stellenbosch
  18. Pierneff La Motte-Franschhoek
  19. The Test Kitchen-Cape Town
  20. Jordan-Stellenbosch






The Top 10 restaurants in South Africa as well as the winners of the coveted Eat Out S.Pellegrino Acqua Panna Chef of the Year, Eat Out Nespresso Service Excellence Award and the Eat Out Wine Service Award will be selected from the 20 nominees and announced at the awards ceremony in Cape Town on Sunday, 20 November.

The Judges were:

Abigail Donnelly-Eat Out Editor, Lynda Ingham-Brown of Taste magazine, John Maytham of Cape Talk, Carianne Wilkinson of the Silwood Cookery School, and Chef David Higgs of newly opened Marble restaurant (Nominated for a Boschendal Style Award)

EAT OUT have updated their Judging page to include how restaurants can be included in leading up to the Top 20 short list.

Restaurants do not elect to be judged for the Top 10 restaurants.

With input from the Eat Out community, the judges draw up a list of candidates for nomination. Each restaurant has to adhere to the following guidelines:

– The establishment must have been open with the same highest-ranking chef since November 2015. (Changes in décor, closure for winter or other breaks, and staffing changes, other than of the highest-ranking chef, over this time period do not disqualify a restaurant.)
– Consistency and excellence must shine through every aspect of the experience.
– The owners and chef should demonstrate total passion for the business.
– They should also be dedicated to uplifting the industry.
– The sourcing of quality produce should be a priority.

Judging Criteria/Score Card for Top 10:

Each restaurant is scored on these criteria, out of a total of 100:

FOOD {70}
Menu composition, seasonality and sustainability
The judge looks for balance – on the menu, in the dishes, cooking styles, techniques and ingredients – and an awareness of different dietary requirements.
Appreciation of the use of local, seasonal produce, ethically sourced animal products and sustainable fish species. {15}

Food presentation
Does the food look appealing? Is the dish plated beautifully? Does it fit the menu description? {15}

The judge considers the execution of the dishes, and the balance of flavours and textures. {25}

Price and value for money
What is delivered on the plate and how is it served? Do the dishes offer value for money, considering what you get and where you are? {5}

Wine choice
The variety of beverages on offer, wine and food pairings, knowledge of the sommelier and staff, and good value for money are all important aspects. {10}

From making the reservation to settling the bill, service is all-important to a pleasant experience. The judge will evaluate the attitude of staff, their knowledge of the menu, specials and wine pairing, and their willingness to go the extra mile to accommodate special requests.

This category encompasses the spirit of a restaurant and the overall feeling it creates. Do you feel comfortable? Has thought gone into designing and decorating the interior? Are the glasses, cutlery and linen all spotless? Is the music pleasant and bathroom sparkling?

Additionally, there are two new awards that I was curious about,Wine Service and Sustainability. These are awarded to any restaurant, not just those in the top 20. I think these new awards are a great addition to the Eat Out awards and each is very important. So I asked how those are judged as well…

Criteria for the Wine Service Award

This is the third consecutive year that this accolade will be awarded. The Wine Service Award acknowledges the top sommelier in the country, rewarding their knowledge and the demonstration thereof through superior, polished and elegant service, caring for the customer in an appropriate manner, and sophisticated guidance. Also considered is the quality of the food and wine pairing, and how it reflects the harmony between the chef’s philosophy and the menu, the selection of wine producers, with a variety of prices and styles, and value for money.

Criteria for the Woolworths Sustainability Award

This new award will go to a restaurant that has shown the greatest commitment to sourcing ingredients ethically and responsibly. The winning restaurant will serve as inspiration to both consumers and the food industry, creating greater awareness of responsible shopping and eating. Essential criteria include sourcing sustainable fish species, free-range meat, poultry and dairy, and the finest local, organic and seasonal produce, as well as showing respect for the surrounding communities, saving water and energy, and reducing food waste.

More about the awards:

The Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards

Launched in 1998, the annual Eat Out Restaurant Awards, held in November, celebrate the South African restaurant industry with accolades including the Top 10 Restaurants, Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, and Service Excellence Awards. The winners of the 2016 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurants Awards will be announced at a glamorous Sunday lunch at Grand West on Sunday 20 November 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

Our Thoughts?

We’re holding thumbs for La Colombe to take the number one spot but with The Test Kitchen’s “controversial” year on end top spot track record and taking THE BEST RESTAURANT IN AFRICA award and polling in at #22 on The WORLD’S 50 best, I would think it would be very hard for the Eat Out judges not to give the acclaimed award to Luke Dale Robets and his Test Kitchen team. What do you think?

Leave a comment below.

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  • Matthew Muller
    October 12, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Funny how Eat Out awards is more about who the judges are friends with rather than an actual critic agency for restaurants. Eat Out does not even consider a restaurant outside of the Cape Town region unless you know the judges. The judges barely even know what is happening outside of Cape Town. Dealing with their staff is a joke in itself. I have actually given up trying to get their staff to classify the restaurants i have worked in as it is just painful dealing with that level of ineptitude for months with no success. I mean come on, that is your job, how can you not get even the basics right. After working for years in gauteng i am yet to see an Eat Out judge venture outside of their usual routine of dining at the same old restaurants as that would be too much effort.

    • Llewellyn Lambert
      October 12, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks for your comment Matthew, I have seen Dw11-13, The Saxon, Marble and Mosaic on the top 20 a few times these are based in Gauteng. Wher have you worked before, are they fine dining eateries or everyday? There are two categories this year from what I can tell.