Mosaic at The Orient

Mosaic at The Orient hotel is currently the number five restaurant in the country. Its setting is in a lush conservancy. As you travel down the winding road and glimpse your first look of the Moorish architecture you quickly forget that you are in fact in Pretoria.

There is prettiness around every corner of the property.

I loved the lushness of the trees everywhere coupled with the terracotta buildings which transports you to Morocco for the day.

The huge wooden doors offer you a glimpse of inside.

A bonsai tree and pond greets you before you enter inside.

The entrance hall is certainly very impressive.

A very French and cute bicycle that looks suited for a bread run.

The Sommelier’s selection of aperitifs was available to those who wanted a drink while they waited.

Beautiful drinks table set up and ready for serving.

An intricately built wooden house which forms part of the decor.

The area which we waited before being seated was so richly decorated.

Our first amuse bouche was a rice paper roll filled with vegetables, nuts and truffle mousse. We also had an avocado and cheese mousse. They were both delicious.

The spoon used to serve the amuse bouche was beyond pretty.

We had an adorable lunch booth for the next few hours of dining. Chef Chantel Dartnall came out to meet us and take us through the menu. The menu changes seasonally, we had the Celebrations of Spring menu. Mosaic offers two menus which are very reasonably priced. The market degustation has eight courses with the food costing R850, R425 for enthusiast wine pairing and R550 for connoisseur wine pairing. The grande degustation has eleven courses with the food costing R1250, R550 for enthusiast wine pairing and R685 for connoisseur wine pairing. We opted for the market degustation with non-alcoholic pairing for R155. I didn’t like the pairing as all the drinks had the same artifical taste to them. I did love that the natural spring water was complimentary.

The freshly baked bread selection included Aggie’s seed loaf, green olive rye bread, basil pesto & sundried tomato rolls, crusty polenta & calendula rolls and a cranberry & pear cheese bread.

There were a range of butters to try including Mooiriver salted farm butter, honey & cinnamon, anchovy & caper and lastly melon. I would recommend trying the salted butter with a flavoured bread and a flavoured butter with a plain bread as the butter flavour can be quite overwhelming. The honey & cinnamon and melon butters were quite sweet. I loved trying them out but I found them too sweet for the bread.

The set up for a romantic table for two. Doesn’t it look so quaint and intimate?

Cracker breads served with a cucumber juice. The cracker bread was pretty bland but i liked the juice.

This pretty platter contained macarons, madeleines, parmesan cheese, butter and an aubergine cone. The macarons and the madeleines are sweet so its a little like having your dessert first.

The oh so daunting wine list. I think this book is mainly for show as there is no way you would open this and pick out a wine. That is why there is a very clued up sommelier to suggest a wine should you not opt for the wine pairing.

I decided to be adventurous and try out the frogs in the pond amuse bouche with tempura frog legs, wild mushrooms and nettle jelly. They don’t taste like much but the thought of it being a frog and the oily batter put me off a bit. I am glad I tried it so I won’t ever have the urge to try it in say Paris. 

We received a detailed menu containing the name of each course, the inspiration behind it as well as the information on both wine pairings and non-alcoholic pairing.

Celebrations of spring is an ode to the European Chef Michael Bras. It’s a vegetable dish combining marinated and fresh young vegetables of the season. I loved how the dish certainly captured spring with its presentation. It tasted like a salad I make at home although mine isn’t so beautifully presented.

The Genesis course is inspired by life as we know it and made with a delicate outer layer of lemongrass and Japanese miso set around a fragrant sphere of rainbow trout surrounded by a burst of pomelo. I loved the combination of trout and pomelo presented beautifully with an added touch of dry ice for drama.

Mousse de Mer with rooibos, langoustines and risotto draws its inspiration from a walk on the beach. The langoustine shell is just for presentation as the meat is in the rooibos risotto below it. The tomato beach sand was delicious in combination with the langoustine risotto. I’m not sure what the brown accompaniment on the plate was but I didn’t like it.

The garden pea palate cleanser with matcha, sweet pea and lime draws inspiration by the abundance of fresh sugar snap peas grown in Mosaic’s garden. This was refreshing on the palate but super frozen and difficult to eat.

There are three main courses to choose from: quail, fish and beef. The birds of a feather course with quail, goose and capon draws its inspiration from a classic Coq au Vin. Free range Carmey King Quails are glazed with raw honey and an aged Italian balsamic. This is served with saffron scented tortellini filled with mushrooms. I really did not enjoy this main course except for the pasta and the foam which were delicious. The quail did not have much flavour and was extremely chewy. We could only manage to eat a little of each piece of meat. We were brought three other mini portions of quail in Le Creuset pots with the idea being that people can share mains. This was a little strange to me seeing that we ordered two quail and one fish I would have expected two portions of fish and one quail not all three being quail.

The bouillabaisse course with saffron, seasonal vegetables and kabeljou is inspired from visiting the Cote-d-or region of France where tasting this dish is a must. I found this dish highly inedible due to the flavours of the fish soup. Overall the mains were extremely disappointing and the reason I left a little hungry after our visit.

I love this cute teacup with TWG Sweet France ice tea which was paired with the bouillabaisse.

For dessert there was a choice between the cheese selection and chocolate cherry. You can choose five cheeses of the cheese trolley to be served with bread, figs, preserved orange and onion marmalade. There is a range of local and European cheese to choose from the highlights of which are the Epoisses de Bourgogne, (Napoleon’s favorite cheese), Belnori Phantom Forest and Dolcelatte Gorgonzola. The cheese course can be added to the market degustation at R185 supplement (a little expensive considering the tiny size of the cheese served-rather just skip the other dessert option).

Chocolate cherry course with Ivoire Vairhona chocolate and a composition of cherries. This dish is inspired by a pairing of velvety ivoire chocolate and a sweet port with an aftertaste of cherries discovered on a trip to Portugal. This dessert was yummy but mainly tasted of cherries as there was very little white chocolate on the plate. Timing was very off serving this course, the boys were almost done with their cheeses and this was served with ice-cream that had already begun to melt.

How cute is this washing line of sweets with Turkish delight, nougat and fudge. 

Macarons and Turkish delight petit fours.

Lollipops in the shape of flowers presented as flowers in a vase.

A picture of my fellow lunch companions. 

A present of sourdough bread to take home with us.

After lunch we went to check out one of wine cellars which boasts a an extensive collection of wine. 

I wish I had more time to spend in this beautifully decorated space. There was even a piano. 

In house guests can enjoy a plush and intimate cinema experience.

This personalized Rolls Royce is brought out for special occasions like weddings.

There is art to behold everywhere including beautiful sculptures.

Service was not up to scratch. The amuse bouche course and bread were served practically all at once in an ambush that didn’t afford us the opportunity of enough time to appreciate and enjoy what we were eating. The explanations of these courses which are not on the menu was often rushed. There was then a long wait till the first courses. In general the timing between courses didn’t feel evenly spread out. The pairing of one meal was not served until we had already started with our food and had to request it. We accidentally spilled the entire non-alcoholic pairing and was not offered another one. The sommelier forgot he had already served a wine pairing and attempt to do it again. There was also the wait for dessert and the pairings which were served way before the food arrived. Overall the service was very disorganized and not what I would expect from a top five restaurant.

The highlights include the beautiful setting, great dining area, delicious amuse bouche, detailed explanation of the menu, Chef Chantell coming out to meet us, a non-alcoholic pairing as well as a local and international wine pairing, wide selection of bread and butter, complimentary spring water, two different tasting menus, plenty of petit fours and bread to take home.

The low lights were the service and poor execution of timing, main courses and taste of the non-alcoholic pairing.

I had high expectations of Mosaic and left feeling a bit underwhelmed with the food. I enjoyed everything I ate apart from the mains but nothing wowed or stood out. The setting was beautiful and there were plenty of added extras but I expected something a little more extraordinary from the food and presentation.

Overall I would recommend you visit as its one of the few fine dining restaurants we have in Gauteng and it offers a little escape from day to day life. Its also a great place to splurge on for a special occassion. I would visit again when its a menu I like. Lunch is perfect for a day visit but I would recommend staying over for dinner as it would finish quite late and the roads are not great.

Ring: (012) 371-2902
Hop: The Orient Boutique Hotel, Crocodile River Valley, Elandsfontein

Morocco & Mosaic,


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