Epicure Restaurant in Sandton serves up a thoroughly modern and sophisticated view of Africa, her people and most importantly her food. The definition of epicure reads ‘a person who takes particular pleasure in fine food and drink.’ Chef Coco Reinharz is no stranger to the northern suburbs of Joburg, where he hosted various establishments. His latest venture, Epicure, offers diners distinctly African flavours and dishes that have been reimagined and refreshed. For us Gauteng residents, finally there is a restaurant where the continent’s cuisine is shown the respect it deserves – fine dining, posh nosh, call it what you will. Could this be the restaurant that finally makes Africa’s diverse dishes mainstream?
The décor is also a departure from the norm: the rich coloured furnishings, modern African inspired décor elements together with the soft lighting draws you in and you forget that you are in one of those new shiny high-rise apartment blocks that are fast changing the Sandton skyline. Epicure’s patrons too reflect contemporary, cosmopolitan Africa; diverse, well-travelled and well heeled.
One who eats alone cannot discuss the taste of the food with others - African Proverb
The menu offers a taste journey that seamlessly travels the continent. Dishes transport you within minutes from Thohoyandou to Tanganika, Luanda to Oudtshoorn and from Tangiers to Lagos. There are uniquely African meals like suya or dishes that have been ‘made local’ like chapattis (a type of Indian flatbread) and then there more universal dishes that include rib eye steak and chicken (but they are given an African twist).
There really is something for everyone, newbies or long-time fans of cuisine from our fellow African nations.
Epicure’s sharing/starter plates are a great reminder that meal time in Africa is generally about bringing people together whether it’s family, friends or even strangers. The sharing plates are also a great way to sample even more of the goodies on offer. My friends and I settled on a variety of dishes that provided a taste treat from several regions across our continent and while we eagerly awaited our food - drinks, conversation and laughter flowed.
The atmosphere is relaxed & warm and while there is lots of chat & cheer from the other tables, the noise levels are not distracting. We could hold a proper conversation without having to scream at each other.
As the sharing plates made their way around our table, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my travel in Africa. Chef Coco’s Doro Wat served with injera pancakes took me straight back to a recent holiday to Ethiopia, which was one of the most memorable experiences of my life!
My partner and I explored Lalibela's medieval rock hewn churches, went wolf tracking in the Simien Mountains, climbed the Gheralta Mountain range in northern Tigray and every day of our travels feasted on Ethiopian staples like injera, shiro, coffee and honey wine.
Epicurean ‘a person who takes particular pleasure in fine food and drink.’
Chef Coco’s Epicure is close to excellent. The restaurant needs better ventilation as it gets smoky from the cooking which then wafts through into the dining area, which is never pleasant. The balance on some dishes could be more refined, for example when the delicate crab was overpowered by the plantain in the Ivorian inspired croquettes. Generally most of the plates were expertly executed.
Would it surprise you to know that a dish called Rolex was one of our favourites? Well, we were in Sandton, dahling😊 Rolex in this case refers to Ugandan inspired Chapattis (a type of flatbread) filled with a spicy yet well balanced, melt in your mouth beef curry. The other standout plates were the lamb tagine which was moreish, tender and utterly comforting, while the grilled squid tossed in suya spices, was cooked to perfection.
Service was warm, friendly and professional. The Sommelier not only advised what we should drink from the vast wine collection with our meal but he took us through to the wine cellar and patiently answered all of our questions. It was also refreshing to have Chef Coco stop by the table to welcome you to his restaurant and take any food related questions that you had. I have found in recent years that very few chefs are accessible to diners.
I for one think we should all support Chef Coco and his ode to contemporary Africa! Whether you are in need of a specific dish fix or a nostalgic food journey across the continent or are looking to expand your taste buds or feel the need to celebrate this glorious continent we live on, her people and her food - Epicure is highly recommended!
Bookings are recommended.
Address: Central Square, Corner West Road South and Lower Road, Sandton