The Eat Out judges have a hard time in deciding on the ranking of our country’s top restaurants, especially when our top restaurants are increasingly performing on international restaurant list rankings! This year they seemed to markedly not have considered the top performance of two internationally crowned SA restaurants, The Test Kitchen, and even more so, Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient outside Pretoria. Both these restaurants have just made the prestigious 2019 Top 200 of the La Liste international Top 1000 restaurant List, rubbing shoulders with the world’s top chefs.
The Test Kitchen clambered back into the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List this year, at rank 50, after a spectacular fall into the 51 – 100 restaurant ranking in 2017. This restaurant ranking is becoming increasingly sought after, so it was a shock that Eat Out could disregard the feat of The Test Kitchen in being the only South African and African restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List, by downscaling it to the second best restaurant in our country at the 2018 Awards.
But it is Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient that has outshone other SA restaurants, by being ranked highly in two international restaurant awards this year, the latest being announced yesterday, at the La Liste Award ceremony in Paris. Restaurant Mosaic was ranked in the Top 200 of the La Liste Top 1000 Restaurants in the world, alongside The Test Kitchen. It also was named as having the Best Winelist in the world (main photograph), a huge accolade, already recognised earlier this year by Spectator, when the restaurant was named as having one of the seven best winelists in the world!
The La Liste restaurant award website states that it is ‘the best global restaurant selection handpicked by discerning food critics and expert guides’, it being based ‘on the compilation of hundreds of guidebooks and millions of online reviews’. It provides statistics too, evaluating restaurant reviews in 628 guides, in 179 countries, 350000 ‘trusted reviews’ out of over 4 million ‘scanned reviews’. It explains that it aggregates the top restaurants in the world listed in ‘more than 550 guidebooks and trusted publications’ into a ‘giant database’. Each review score is then converted into a standard grade, on a score of 0 to 100, ‘according to conversion tables specific to each guidebook’. This step is difficult to comprehend. Chefs around the world were asked to judge local guidebooks, and a ‘trustworthiness index’ of between 0 to 10 was awarded to each restaurant in the database. These scores were integrated into online customer reviews, ‘giving them a 10% weighting in the final ‘La Liste score’. The La Liste score calculated per restaurant in the database is used to rank the restaurants in the database. As the name suggests, this is a French initiative. It was launched three years ago, and Wikipedia writes that it was the French answer to the British World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. In the latest La Liste, four of the top 10 restaurants are located in France.
Could La Liste be a better ranking and evaluation of our top South African restaurants, taking any bias and favoritism out of the awards, as has so often been suggested is the problem with the Eat Out Awards? In running through the La Liste list of the Top 1000 restaurants, its credibility is immediately questioned when it still lists The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, which closed in April 2017 when Chef Margot Janse left its employ, a few months after the sale of the hotel to The Leeu Collection.
The rating score of the South African restaurants on the La Liste Top 1000 restaurant list is to be compared to the two joint top scoring restaurants in the world at 99.75 in its 2019 list, being Guy Savoy in France and La Bernardin in New York. I ate at the latter restaurant in 2016, when it was one of the three top New York restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List:
The SA restaurant ratings on La Liste are as follows, out of a score of 100, thirteen of our country’s restaurants making the La Liste Top 1000 restaurant list, and only two its Top 200 list:
# The Test Kitchen 92.75 (Eat Out number 2) – ranked 151
# Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient 91.75 (Eat Out number 7) – ranked 177.
# The Restaurant at Waterkloof (newly crowned Eat Out 2018 number one restaurant) 87.75
# Greenhouse 86.50 (Eat Out number 6)
# La Colombe 85.50 (Eat Out number 3)
# Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia 85.00 (Eat Out number 10)
# Terroir 81.25 (the restaurant did not even feature in the Eat Out Top 30 nomination list this year!)
# DW-Eleven13 81.25 (the restaurant did not make Eat Out Top 10 this year, being ranked in the 21 – 30 List)
# The Pot Luck Club 80.50 (the restaurant was named 20th in the Eat Out Awards this year).
# Camphors 80.50 (Eat Out number 8)
# Indochine at Delaire Graff 80.50 (the restaurant did not make the Eat Out Top 20 list)
# Jordan 80.25 (the restaurant did not make the Eat Out Top 10 list)
# Foliage 80.00 (the restaurant did not make Eat Out Top 10 this year)
# The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français 80.00 (the restaurant closed down in April 2017!!!)
Earlier this year Chef Chantel was ranked 79th Best Chef in the World, in the Best Chefs Awards Top 300! She was the highest ranked South African chef, and received the accolade of Best ‘Lady Chef’ in the world 2017. Other local chefs in the Top 300 list this year were Chefs Peter Tempelhoff of Greenhouse (134th), Gregory Czarnecki from The Restaurant at Waterkloof (ranked 223 rd), and Michael Deg at Cavalli (272 nd).
It is clear to see that Chef Chantal’s Restaurant Mosaic does not receive the acclaim she should receive locally, compared to the esteem in which she and her restaurant are held internationally. In an article on the La Liste website, special attention is paid to the increasing number of top female chefs on its list, and Chef Chantel is listed in the company of top chefs such as Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, Claire Smythe of Core in London, as well as Hélèna Rizzo from Maní in São Paulo, with eight other upcoming and established female chefs.
It was a joke seeing La Colombe praise its sixth Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the world ranking on TripAdvisor yesterday, the rating website fraught with credibility and fraudulent review issues! No credible fine-dining restaurant would want to be seen on any TripAdvisor list, let alone boast about its performance on it! The majority of the 25 restaurants on the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards are completely unknown!
La Liste. www.laliste.com Twitter: @LaListe1000 Instagram: @laliste1000
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein