I plant my flag. I sit by the warm fire. I see the road traveled so far,fruitful, full of joy and with lovely characters along the way.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa - Johannesburg

Hi there!

After a weekend of lifting boxes, cleaning offices and joking with the builders, we finally settled in a new office. The result is amazing and we were quite happy about it and very satisfied after all the hard work we have done. Peter and I decided to celebrate our achievement and we booked a table at the excellent Restaurant of Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa.

This five star Hotel is unique, exclusive, up-market, for either business or leisure. Once the private home of the current live-in owners, John and Anna Thacker, the property was originally bought from the Little Brenthurst Trust of Oppenheimer fame, and consisted of 10 acres with horses and stables and rolling green lawns. Portions of the property have been sold off, but it has retained its stately, park-like ambiance with huge mature trees and prolific bird-life.

First impression at the entrance:
  • Unique
  • Historical 
  • Peaceful
  • Elegant
  • Italian decor
  • Friendly staff
The entrance was difficult to find because there were no visible signs in the street. After we finally found the entrance we were most friendly welcomed outside and enjoyed the peacefulness and quietness in the garden. You feel at home immediately in the restaurant area. Soft classical music in the back, nicely laid out tables with dark red table cloths, comfortable white leather chairs (see picture) and nice staff.

They have just enlarged the restaurant area and the doors were not quite finished yet, which meant during dinner we were getting cold and asked to move. This was not a problem and the staff helped us changing tables to a warmer area in the middle of the restaurant. Supposedly the doors will be closed before wintertime, so don't worry. The hotel is running very well. Apparently all suites are fully booked for the World Cup 2010, at least that is what the friendly waitress told us.

The bread rolls and butter were served in a silver dish. The bread was divine, the butter was a bit hard and salty. The serving dish reminded me of an ashtray at first, which I guess it wasn't. Or it was never used as an ashtray I hope. Otherwise if you have just stopped smoking, this could be an idea for your silverware! Or if you love silver like me.. don't leave it in your cupboards but use it at your dining table. We ordered white wine from a long list of wines. The pale wine had a delicate roundness and attractive notes that made it an equally good choice.

We ordered Namibian oysters as a starter, served with lemon wedges, Red onion vinaigrette and Caviar! Delicious!!
After that Peter ordered Grilled Fillet of Beef served with Oxtail cannelloni, mashed potato and Truffle sauce. I ordered Slow Roast Duck with crisp raspberry and plums, greens and star anise sauce. After 15 minutes of ordering our mains were served on hot plates, and I was curious to compare this Duck with my first experience (eating Duck at Le Canard) that I immediately attacked the dish with my cutlery to taste it.
Duck is always on the fatty side and I read on the internet that this is why the Chinese make pressed duck. They literally press it to get the fat out. If you never have tasted Duck before it is difficult to explain why it is so divine. It has no white meat to it so it is sort of like turkey with a flavored glaze. I loved it.
Peter's dish was very good. The potato mash was lush and the beef fillet was perfectly cooked, medium rare as ordered. Juicy from the inside nicely browned from the outside, right temperature and good layout of both plates.

The dessert was something else. We shared Baked Alaska together.
This dessert is made of ice cream placed in a pie dish, lined with slices of sponge cake and topped with meringue (made from whipped egg whites and sugar). The entire dessert is then placed in an extremely hot oven for just long enough to firm the meringue. The meringue is an effective insulator, and the short cooking time prevents the heat from getting through to the ice cream.

We were lucky to have shared the dessert as it was too much for the both of us. The sugary taste, combined with the richness of the egg whites, the softness of the sponge cakes and the cold ice cream is a lovely combination and they actually prepared it well. Just too much guys, thanks for your generosity but undo-able if you already had a starter and main course.

Overall experience?
Excellent. The friendly staff made this a great experience we will remember for a long time. Although the Duck at Le Canard is still my ultimate favorite.

Value for money?
If you know this all costs us nearly 600ZAR including an expensive bottle of white wine, I would say it was definitely worth the money. The food was exquisite, staff knows etiquette and customer service and the ambiance was peaceful and quiet.Too bad that it was chilli in the restaurant and that we were the only customers inside! That's why I came to the following conclusion:

Food        4/5
Service     5/5
Ambiance 3/5

Overall review

Warm Regards,

Abigail Summer

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