Laura's World Blog

Carnelian, situated above The Rock in the Fourways Design Quarter is something unlike any restaurant I've experienced in Fourways to date..  It boasts expertly made cocktails served by the Absolute Vodka Best Cocktail Barman in the country, Prosecco-on-tap and one of the most exquisite private dining areas that I have ever seen in the form of  ‘The Living Room’.

We spent a relaxed evening enjoying some delicious cocktails recently at Carnelian and I could not have been more impressed with Barman George and his team. 

Did you know that the Bloody Mary was invented at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in the early 1950's when bartender Ferdinand Petiot poured Vodka into a glass of tomato juice? Or so our barman George told us on our visit here recently. 🍅 

This particular Bloody Mary by Carnelian at the Rock is made using a spicy Umami mix and I liked it! A lot! The cocktail list offered is tailored and, in my opinion, exceptionally well put together, sticking to a small number options that are then made to very high standards and presented beautifully. Basically, its the Bloody Mary of all Bloody Marys! 

Onto the food:
Carnelian's signature tapas menu offers a spread of tapas style bites and we got to sample everything from their charcuterie board to sushi and oysters. 

For me, the plate of the evening was the fresh oysters served two ways:
Pickled cucumber and mint. 
Citrus salad and ponzu sauce.
Simple, full of flavor and beautifully presented! 

Service:
For me, the only downside on this first visit was that the service wasn't all it should be and we were served by several different waiters throughout the evening. That being said, the place was packed so I can't be too harsh. 

In summary, Carnelian, to me is the first of its kind in the Fourways area with sophisticated interiors, versatile spaces and expert service setting new trends in all things tapas and cocktails. 

*Recommendation: A thoroughly enjoyable spot for some delicious cocktails! 

 

Radisson Blu has long held its reputation for iconic, stylish and sophisticated offerings worldwide, so it seemed well-suited to its location in the richest square mile in Africa and naturally I was excited recently on the rainy day that I headed up in the elevator to check in for my stay. 

Over the past few years for a special occasion or two, I have experienced their Vivace Restaurant dining, but this would be my first overnight visit, and it wasn't long before I was settled in my bathrobe and slippers, glass of wine in hand, taking in the beautiful view of Mushroom Park after the storm, from one of the Radisson Blu Superior Suites. Beautiful panoramic skyline views, a separate comfortable lounge area and a conveniently located bath tub that was impossible to resist for a pre-dinner soak. 

Then it was off to dinner, and we managed to get a window table with a front row view as all the offices and malls lit up like jewels in the African evening sky. I remember thinking, whilst seated enjoying my glass of Shiraz and Duck Noodle Salad, how difficult it is to remember that you are still in fact in Africa. We finished up the evening in style with a traditionally proudly South African dessert, the Malva Pudding complete with Amarula ice cream and headed up to sleep, relaxed and full. 

Morning arrived too soon for my liking, and the first thing that I did was slap on my robe and head into the lounge to take full advantage of our Nespresso coffee machine. Breakfast was conveniently offered indoors without having to venture out into the world which is an additional bonus. 

To sum up our stay at the Radisson Blu Sandton, with its prime location, whether your stay is for business or pleasure (and with some of the best shopping and restaurants in the city) less than five minutes away, it is easy to see what makes this particular hotel so popular. 

  

I had long heard recommendations and experiences from people who had frequented Granny Mouse, as well as its impressive showcase of awards that it has racked up over the years, so on my recent trip here, my expectations were high.

I arrived to check in, on a sunny summer afternoon to a hearty welcome by the reception staff and glass of bubbles to refresh me after the drive. Once that was done, it was time to get settled in.

As this would be my home away from home for the next few days, my curiosity got the better of me and I immediately started to explore all the nooks and crannies of this quirky and charming country house with its spa, fine dining restaurant, lush gardens, manicured river walks and mountain views. Granny Mouse was not built for exceptionally tall people (you will see what I mean when you visit), mind you, but it truly has a heritage and charm all of its own. They offer a range of accommodation options, but my favourite would have to be the Deluxe Suites, which afford you some of the most beautiful views of Lions River Valley, in complete comfort and I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the balcony taking in the tranquil surroundings, with our cozy fireplace nearby.

Dinner time soon arrived and, to my surprise, we were not seated in The Eaves for my birthday dinner but instead in what has to be one of the most ambient candlelit cellars that I have experienced to date. Rose petals led us down the steps of the wine cellar to our private candlelit table for two, and the evening began.. Course after course, started to seamlessly arrive down the cellar steps.

From their confit garlic mushroom with sundried tomato and thyme pesto, to get our mouths watering, to their spiced crusted beef fillet served in a red wine ox liver Ragu, our food journey was one not to be taken lightly. What an exceptional way to celebrate a special occasion or simply to just celebrate yourself, with expertly paired wines by Chef Wayland Green, generously sized portions and beautiful plating.

Full and content, I was ready to make use of my big tub and enjoy a much-needed soak by candlelight before bed, which is exactly what I did!

In the morning, still feeling slightly full from the feast the night before, it was time for some exercise and the River Walk below the property provides just that opportunity. With scenic spots to rest along the way, and the gurgling river a constant companion, it is difficult not to feel in awe at the beauty of the flora in full colour at this time of the year. I have not yet frequented the Midlands in the winter but this wild floral kingdom is surely something that must be experienced on any visit!

Feeling as if I’d earned my hearty breakfast, I wondered back up the hill refreshed and ready to take on the day. It wasn’t long before I had been assisted and had my coffee in hand. The breakfasts at Granny Mouse offer everything from a traditional fry up to your artisanal cheeses, breads and local cold meats.

The Granny Mouse team, whether it be for dinner, breakfast or just wandering around, never hesitate to give you a friendly grin and to check if there is something that they can assist you with, which was a nice added touch during the stay.  

 In summary, Granny Mouse provides a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the year and one, that in my opinion is perfect for any couple wanting a quick break or some added romance. I left, wondering when I could possibly return next..

Recently, as we checked into Fish Eagle Cottage at Brahman Hills, it was hard not be influenced by the typically African countryside complete with views across the rolling hills of the Midlands. Right from the onset, I fell in love with the tranquil Blue Crane Nature Reserve and the fact that it allowed us to experience its abundant wildlife first hand.

So a bit about the cottages.. Each self-catering cottage has a secluded and private set-up, making it the ideal ‘home away from home’ complete with DSTV, a cosy fireplace, braai area and our very own outdoor Jacuzzi that we took full advantage of with evenings spent under the stars.

Once settled in, it was off to the hotel to enjoy an intimate and romantic dinner in their wine cellar “89 on Copper”. As we arrived, we were welcomed by our attentive waiter, Joshua who could not have been more helpful throughout the evening (despite us being tired from the travels) and with the experience of someone who is no stranger to the hospitality industry, he seemed to pre-empt our requirements. “89 on Copper” has something for everyone on its rustic menu from their fine dining plated courses for me to a generous cheese burger and fries for my partner.

Relaxed and with full tummies, we retreated to our room in peace to enjoy a bottle of bubbles in our private Jacuzzi under the stars.

Morning arrived before we knew it, and we were swept off to our private couple’s massage treatments, complete with a choice of champagne, coffee and chocolate options to die for. Whilst there, we even got a visit from some inquisitive Brahman cattle who needed a drink from the water feature located nearby.

Brahman Hills and Spa place emphasis on produce that is sourced ethically, biodegradable and with an ever-growing spotlight on the impact that we as human beings have on our environment, it is wonderful to see a hotel that transparently supports organic and local.

To sum our stay, Brahman Hills has it all… convenience, a stunning location surprisingly close to the N3 and a homely feel without scrimping on the unique luxury touches that truly make it world class. 

 

There is only word to sum up our lunch at Chefs Warehouse in Beau Constantia yesterday.. Perfection, from start to finish (and worth every penny spent)! 

Onto our Tapas dishes to share:
Oysters with Flavours from the Garden.
Coal Seared Tuna , Korean Chilli Oil, Miso Cream Cheese, Tigarella Tomatoes.
Linefish Sashimi, Tamarillo & Olive Oil Dressing, Fresh Ginger & Fennel. 
Seared Blesbok Rump Tartare, Coal Roasted Shitaki, and Smoked Garlic Aioli.
Sweet Corn Risotto, Sweet Corn & Leek Beurre Noisette. 
Smoked & Roasted Sweet Potato, Lemon & Teriyaki Burnt Butter Glaze & Barley Cream. 
Kimchi Roasted Kingklip, Coal Fired Oyster Mushrooms, Tamarind & Coconut Dressing. 
Coal Roasted Pork Belly, Burnt Honey & Lime Dressing, Pickled Carrots and BBQ Cashew Nut Puree. 
Slow Roasted Lamb Rib, Sweet Pepper & Tomato Pickle, Homemade Ricotta, Bitter & Sour Leaves. 

We left this beautiful restaurant wondering if/when we could possibly return on this short trip and recommending it to everyone that we know! 
Chef Ivor Jones is a wizard in the kitchen with plating that reaches expert levels, seamless work by the Chefs in this open plan kitchen, great service by our Zimbabwean waitress Natasha, and breathtaking views!

*Recommendation: If you are in the Western Cape and want the ultimate 'foodie' experience, I highly recommend a visit to Chefs Warehouse. 

 

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