Christmas eat out guide

2010-12-15 09:04

Eating out is easy over the festive season if you are in one of the country’s big holiday centres – but if you are staying in Gauteng you’ll find a lot of closed restaurants.

I know, I’m always home for the holidays, but this year I have found a solution to the problem.

And, no, the solution is not Spur – it lies in the many hotels that enjoyed a facelift for the benefit of our World Cup visitors.

We can now reap the benefits. Also, not all hotel restaurants are created equal, with many offering special features to lure diners.

An added bonus is that many of these places do special menus for Christmas and New Year, which means, if you like, you can let some other sucker stuff the turkey this year and simply turn up.

1.Bice at Southern Sun Hyde Park is an authentic high-end Italian restaurant.

Owned by Raffaele Ruggeri, whose grandmother started the original trattoria in 1926 in Milan, there are 32 of them in posh hotels around the world, but the one in Hyde Park’s the first in South Africa.

The food is delicious – and the gnocchi is sublime.

The idea is to order a taster menu, with or without wine pairings, it will set you back between R220 and R350.

 For Christmas eve and day its R320 a person (R120 for children between 8 and 12 and free for younger children), and the new year menu is R850, including champagne and a party, and there are accommodation deals to make sure no one drives drunk.

Call 011 341 8080 or visit

2.The Westcliff Hotel, one of Johannesburg’s landmarks, is always open for sundowners at the Polo Lounge, which overlooks the city and the zoo.

This hotel, which looks like a pink cake iced with white, is luxurious and they charge for the setting.

Father Christmas will be on hand to delight the little ones and it’s a great spot to watch the New Year’s firework display.

La Belle Terresse Restaurant’s Christmas Eve and Day menus are R570 and R450 respectively, children under 12 are R285 and R225.

New Year’s Eve with a view will set you back R720 and the children can’t come.

Call 011 481 6009 or visit

3.Pretoria’s Southern Sun hotel’s Oasis Restaurant has a mouth-watering carvery to recommend it.

For Christmas this centrally located hotel is just a kilometre from the State Theatre and the three-course Christmas Eve menu is R165 and the Christmas Day menu is R175.

Crackers and hats are an extra R25. Children under 6 eat free and children under 12 are half price.

Call 012 341 1571.

4.If you have small children and need a little respite from them, the five-star Palazzo Hotel at Montecasino has children’s entertainment to recommend it during the holidays.

Café Rialto at the hotel started serving high tea earlier this year and the lemon tarts are worth a visit on their own, or you could spend Sunday lunchtime relaxing while the children play.

The Christmas Day menu is R750 a person and includes bottomless sparkling wine, crackers and a jumping castle to keep the children happy.

Call 011 510 3000.

5.If you want to get out of town but not drive too far try out the Riverside Lifestyle Resort on the banks of the Vaal River.

The Riverview Restaurant is putting on a Christmas Day lunch for R295 a head and Father Christmas will be on hand to entertain the children.

Lovely gardens and a deck overlooking the river are two of the attractions of heading for the country.

Call 016 982 7300.

6.The newest addition to the Montecasino complex is the Southern Sun hotel that houses Punchinello’s restaurant.

This Venice-inspired eatery has an open kitchen so you can watch the chef make your meal.

The menu comes in the form of a glossy booklet that includes the menu, the wine list, free recipes as well as an interview with the chef.

At the pudding station you choose your indulgence and the chef makes it up for you.

The starters consist of table of meze selections – roasted vegetables, hams, cheeses and fruit.

Decorated in olive greens and regal purple, with glass chandeliers and big windows, the Christmas Day lunch and dinner menus are R260 a head.

Call 011 367 4367.

7.One of Joburg’s premier boutique hotels, The Saxon, is laying on a spread for the holiday season.

The restaurant is worth a try any time, though you will need to set aside at least R1200 for two people to eat a three-course meal with wine and the menu changes regularly.

For Christmas day lunch and dinner, the menus are R750 each.

Among the chef’s creations are roast goose and trifled eggnog pannacotta for Christmas lunch.

Call 011 292 6000.

8.Pretoria’s five-star Sheraton Hotel is keeping their Christmas delights traditional with a generous buffet.

There’s turkey, lamb, beef and pork from the carvery with the ABCs of sauce – apple, bread and cranberry.

The buffet is R295 and the Magnolia restaurant boasts views of the Union Buildings.

Call 012 429 9999.

.Another out of town option is the Cradle of Humankind.

Maropeng is hosting a number of activities over the holidays including old fossil tours, a cave tour and picnic, and a chance to learn more about the stars with the mobile Star Lab.

On Christmas day the Tumulus Restaurant will be having a traditional lunch at R295 for adults and R125 for children on the deck.

Call 014 577 9000 or visit

10.The Mount Grace in Magaliesberg has a number of festive events on the calendar.

Among them is an afternoon of jazz with oysters and caviar on the menu as well as a buffet lunch and views of the mountains as well as a star-gazing evening and a rejuvenation week.

Or you could just head out to the country hotel for lunch and some country air.

Call 014 577 5600 or visit

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