Diners Club platinum award for Royal St Andrews

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KUDOS FOR FINE WINE: From left, Royal St Andrews Hotel general manager Wessel Benson, executive head chef Debby van Wyk and senior assistant food and beverage manager Robin Hyde.
KUDOS FOR FINE WINE: From left, Royal St Andrews Hotel general manager Wessel Benson, executive head chef Debby van Wyk and senior assistant food and beverage manager Robin Hyde.

PORT Alfred’s newest fine dining restaurant, The Thistle at the Royal St Andrews Hotel, has joined a handful of Eastern Cape restaurants to be featured in the annual Diners Club Winelist Awards.

Opened less than a year ago following the refurbishment of the Royal St Andrews Hotel, Conference Centre and Spa, The Thistle received a platinum award.

According to Diners Club Winelist Award convenor Jean-Pierre Rossouw, the criteria for judging were content, balance, suitability and presentation.

“Our brief to Et-Marie Fourie, who made the initial selection of wines for The Thistle, was to reflect the restaurant’s character, with estates and vintages which would make the dining experience at The Thistle unique,” Royal St Andrews general manager Wessel Benson said.

Wines are carefully stored in The Thistle’s own temperature and humidit y-controlled wine cellar. It is one of the only restaurants on the Sunshine Coast to have its own cellar.

The Thistle’s wine list includes a selection from DeMorgenZon, an estate which plays “harmonious and melodious” music through speakers placed in its vineyards and cellars.

Another is Vergelegen, which in 2005 was South Africa’s first Biodiversity in Wine Initiative champion. “Both reflect the fine dining experience at the Thistle, where chef Debby [van Wyk] adds a special twist to all the dishes,” Benson said.

Meals start with an amuse-bouche designed to wake up the taste buds. The menu itself captures the flavours of the Sunshine Coast, with Van Wyk sourcing the freshest and finest ingredients locally wherever possible.

Fish is bought off the boat in Port Alfred, lamb and springbok sourced from the Karoo, venison from the surrounding farms and greens and vegetables from organic growers. “It is a major achievement for Port Alfred for such a new restaurant to have the honour of the second-highest award from Diners Club,” Benson added.

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