Na­tional trea­sure with a twist

Pretoria News Weekend - - EATING IN & OUT - LEBOHANG MOSIA

JAMES Di­ack first de­búted his farm-to-fork ap­proach as Chef Pa­tron of Coobs in 2012. Three years later, he opened up Park­town North’s The Na­tional Eatery, where he has con­tin­ued – but with a some­what au­da­cious, smok­ier menu.

The flavour pro­file ranges from smoky Texan to South Amer­i­can and from Asian to bistro. It sounds rather eclec­tic and it hon­estly is.

The Na­tional Eatery has a de­voted fol­low­ing, serves as a cosy neigh­bour­hood lo­cale where you can drop by to en­joy un­fussy, com­fort­ing and filling food made with the finest farm-fresh in­gre­di­ents sourced from Di­ack’s fam­ily farm, Bright­side, in the Ma­galies­berg. “All our veg­eta­bles are or­ganic and the free-range chick­ens, ducks, eggs, acorn-fed pigs and wild boar, as well as the grass-fed Suf­folk lamb and Dex­ter beef, are reared there”, says Di­ack proudly.

The Na­tional is headed by chef Wayne Di­et­rich, who has con­cep­tu­alised a sea­sonal menu that draws from a va­ri­ety of in­flu­ences and cook­ing styles. It’s trendy and so­phis­ti­cated.

A beau­ti­ful cop­per bar di­vides the restau­rant from the bar, the decor is cool but doesn’t try too hard and the out­side deck is per­fect for warm nights.

The wine list at The Na­tional Eatery is out­stand­ing. “It has none of the usual sus­pects, but the list still re­mains very well priced”, pro­claims Di­et­rich.

“From Ries­lings to Cin­saults, Pinot Noirs to Gre­nache Blancs, there is some­thing for ev­ery wine fundi, and with over 60 choices.”

Di­ack and his team have plans to host reg­u­lar meet-the-maker wine events. The house wine is Kaapzicht Pet­tirosso, which comes in a mag­num bot­tle.

Ser­vice at The Na­tional is ca­sual and warm. Wait­ers are in­formed, help­ful and ef­fi­cient, but could be more at­ten­tive in top­ping up wine glasses.

I asked Di­et­rich what the must-try items from the starters sec­tion are, and he replied with the con­vic­tion, “Def­i­nitely, the sriracha chicken steamed buns”.

I’ve never been one for cults, but when it comes to sriracha Jo­han­nes­burg. sauce, I’m in for life. This was beau­ti­ful, light, fluffy, flavour­some.

For mains, the sig­na­ture dishes are sticky con­fit pork belly with tossed new pota­toes and crack­ling, and slow braised acorn­fed wild boar ragu with hand-cut 19 Fourth Av­enue, Park­town North, pap­pardelle. I opted for great pulled duck and mixed veg in Thai red curry sauce with rice cakes.

If you’re af­ter some­thing deca­dent to round off your meal, you’ll find tra­di­tional malva pud­ding, which is a mar­vel.


ON TREND: The Na­tional Eatery, at

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