American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Awards 2017

Jackie Cameron
With all the year-end festivities fast approaching and much eating on the cards, no matter where you are in the country… this is the list to follow in order to get consistency and truly memorable dining occasions. What an absolute honour and privilege it was putting this list together with the highly esteemed Tamsin Snyman and Anna Trapido. Happy dining out!
— Jackie Cameron

"Twenty five new restaurants get the nod for this year’s American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Awards"

SA’s Premier dining awards reveals the country’s 100 exceptional restaurants

American Express® has revealed the country’s most coveted culinary list, the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards, at a chic event held in Johannesburg on Monday 12th September 2016.

Johannesburg’s hottest new restaurant, Marble, was the location for South Africa’s premier dining awards ceremony as American Express, paid tribute to the chefs and restaurants that are changing the game in the pursuit of delivering the perfect culinary experience.

The Johannesburg awards follow on from the sumptuous Cape Town awards, held at The Olive Press at Boschendal Estate, Franschhoek on 5th September 2016. 

The 18th edition of these esteemed awards marked the introduction of a definitive list of the country’s 100 exceptional restaurants by American Express, the authority on extraordinary experiences, and saw the highest number of first time recipient restaurants receive recognition.

Five (5) restaurants in the Western Cape, including the much feted Babel at Babylonstoren and Indochine at Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch join the esteemed list of award recipients. In Gauteng, five (5) restaurants including District Six Eatery in Emmarentia, Japa in Rivonia and Level Four in Rosebank are some of the contenders that have made the grade, while five (5) restaurants in KwaZulu-Natal such as Abingdon, Parc Café, Taste of Thai and Esiweni Private Game Reserve are now part of this exclusive culinary club.

This year saw the introduction of six categories nationally for the awards, which are judged on criteria which include quality and creativity of cuisine, service, wine list, décor and ambience as well as overall excellence:

  • Business Consortium Restaurants
  • Chef-Patron Restaurants
  • Game Lodge Restaurants
  • Hotel Restaurants
  • Wine Farm Restaurants
  • On Trend

American Express drew this illustration to explain the relationship between the chefs and the ingredients as follows; ‘There is a playful dance between a chef and his or her perfect dish – an essential process which demands hundreds of hours spent focusing, experimenting, eliminating, pushing boundaries and refining the culinary experience. Creating the perfect plate in the pursuit of excellence requires an exploration into, and a complete understanding of every element on the plate. Notably, it requires the chef’s choice of the key ingredient as the hero for the dish and how it works in harmony with other elements in the mix, to ultimately create perfect culinary excellence.’

Reflecting on the journey, convenor of the American Express culinary judging panel, Tamsin Snyman, says ‘The awards now reflect the growth and diversity of new restaurants in our country, along with a tangible elevation of our culinary talent. South Africa is truly owning its place as a foodie nation, and this is manifested by the arrival of a wide variety of new avant-garde and contemporary establishments which have emerged in the past few years. More importantly, our best restaurants are reflecting the dynamic and multicultural nature of our country, encompassing a wide spectrum of styles, ethnicities and ambiences’.

Tamsin is joined on the judging panel by Anna Trapido, a renowned author, journalist, broadcaster and commentator on food and wine, as well as Jackie Cameron, chef, author and owner of the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine.

The judging process focuses on the selected restaurants’ standards which are re-evaluated annually by the judges. As such, the annual nominations for the awards are not renewed automatically as consistent quality is a must.

‘We are delighted to bring this year’s Awards as part of our longstanding partnership with American Express®. As the exclusive issuer and merchant acquirer of American Express-branded cards in South Africa, we are able to offer our clients access to the best restaurants and culinary experiences. This also serves as a much needed support for South Africa’s culinary industry which boasts impeccable high gourmet and service standards which we are proud to celebrate through the awards,’ explains Pamela White, Head of Corporate Card for American Express at Nedbank

Eight restaurants received the prestigious 10 year award:

  • Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse
  • Mimosa Lodge
  • Mosaic
  • Pembreys
  • Serendipity
  • Spice
  • Sugar Club
  • Yamato


25 restaurants received their FIRST American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Award:

Abingdon (KZN); Babel (Franschhoek); Camphors (Stellenbosch); District Six Eatery (Johannesburg); Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge (Zululand); Foliage (Franschhoek); Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (Overberg); Indochine (Stellenbosch);  Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge (North West); Japa (Johannesburg); Kwandwe Private Game Reserve (Grahamstown); Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve (Mpumalanga); Les Delices De France (Johannesburg); Level Four (Johannesburg); Londolozi Game Reserve (Mpumalanga);  Makanyi Private Game Lodge (Northern Province); Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve (Eastern Cape); Mrs Simpson’s (Dullstroom); Parc Café (Durban); Phinda Forest Lodge (KZN); Pron (Johannesburg); Singita Sweni Lodge (Mpumalanga);  Springfontein Eats (Overberg);  Taste of Thai (Pietermaritzburg); Willoughby & Co (Cape Town)

8 restaurants reached the prestigious milestone of their TENTH American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Award:

Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse (KZN); Mimosa Lodge (Cape Winelands); Mosaic (Gauteng); Pembreys (Garden Route); Serendipity (Garden Route); Spice (KZN); Sugar Club (KZN); Yamato (Gauteng).

The regional spread of the full 100 Awards is:

Gauteng 28; North West 4; Cape Peninsula 19; Cape Winelands 20; Overberg 2; Garden Route 5; KwaZulu-Natal 11;  Free State 1; Klein Karoo 1; Eastern Cape 3; Mpumalanga 5; Northern Province 1.

27 of the 2016 awards were not renewed:  21 suspensions and 6 closures.

The full list of 2017 Award winners:

  • Gauteng (28): Balata, Bellagio, Bellgables, Bistro Michel, Butcher Shop & Grill, Café del Sol, Culinary Table Restaurant, District Six Eatery, dw eleven-13, Fumo, iL Tartufo, Japa, La Cucina di Ciro, La Madeleine, The Leopard, Les Delices de France, Le Soufflé, Level Four, Mosaic, PRON, Mastrantonio (Illovo), Mosaic , Priva Gastrolounge, Red Chamber, Ritrovo Ristorante, Roots, Signature, Yamato.
  • North West (4): De Hoek, Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge, Silver Orange, Stef’s Table.
  • Cape Peninsula (19): 95 Keerom, Aubergine, Azure, Bistro Sixteen82, Bistrot Bizerca,  Bombay Brasserie, Buitenverwachting, The Foodbarn, GOLD Restaurant, Greenhouse, Haiku, il Leone, La Colombe, La Mouette, Myoga, Nobu, Planet Restaurant, Signal, Willoughby & Co.
  •  Cape Winelands (20): 96 Winery Road, Babel, Bosman’s, Bread & Wine, Camphors, De Grendel, Delaire Graff Restaurant, Foliage, Fraai Uitzicht 1798, Grande Provence, Indochine, Jordan Restaurant, The Kitchen at Maison, Mimosa Lodge, Overture, Pierneef at La Motte, Rust en Vrede, The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, Terroir, Waterkloof.
  • Overberg (2): Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Springfontein Eats.
  • Garden Route (5): Kurland Restaurant, Pembreys, Serendipity, Transkaroo, Zinzi.
  • KwaZulu-Natal (11): 9th Avenue Bistro, Abingdon, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Hartford House, Ile Maurice, Parc Café, Taste of Thai, Spice, Sugar Club.
  • Free State (1):  De Oude Kraal.
  • Klein Karoo (1):  Su Casa. Eastern Cape (3): Hacklewood Hill, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve.
  • Mpumalanga (5): Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve, Londolozi Game Reserve, Mrs Simpson’s, Singita Sweni Lodge, Zest.
  • Northern Province (1): Mayanki Private Game Lodge.