David Higgs’ new Sandton restaurant Saint is a sinfully intoxicating blend of sophisticated decor, down-to-earth food and a dash of spectacle
Discover David Higgs’ new Johannesburg restaurant Saint
Saint is no everyday eatery. Hostesses are clothed in David Tlale creations, custom Stefano Ferrara pizza ovens fire up the kitchen and images from the Sistine Chapel, among others, are mapped via 4-D projection onto a vaulted ceiling. This drama extends to the restrooms, where basins take the form of supplicant hands sculpted by Damien Grivas.
Chef and restaurateur David Higgs and his business partner Gary Kyriacou found the inspiration for Saint in a Manhattan hotspot in New York City. ‘When Alexander Wang walked in with a troop of models and started ordering pizza and Champagne, we knew this was a combination we wanted to bring home with us,’ says Higgs. ‘Essentially, Saint’s all about the energy that a beautiful room and simple food bring. It’s not poncey and hushed – it’s expressive and unassuming.’
Interior designer Irene Kyriacou worked closely with Reddeco design studio to create a space with a distinct Italian influence that incorporates a play on the Renaissance, and Mid-Century Modern and mythological elements. ‘The challenge was finding the perfect balance when merging such strong styles,’ she says. ‘I wanted to include references that told a story. The best way forward was to go large, with pieces like the deconstructed-sculpture bar panels.’
Surrounded by hotels, banks, law firms and the JSE, Saint caters for people on the move. Included on the menu are light pasta, risotto and gnocchi dishes, as well as grills, salads and desserts. The wood-fired Grillworks adds a smoky flavour and crisp texture to vegetables, fish and meats before they’re added to other dishes like pastas. But the main focus is the Neapolitan pizza, courtesy of Head Chef Matt van Niekerk and Chef de Partie Tyler Clayton, who went to Milan, Italy, to learn from pizza masters Gennaro Rapido and
Gino Sorbillo. ‘Standard and consistency are key,’ says Higgs. ‘If a pizza isn’t the right size and shape, has too much sauce or there isn’t a simplicity and balance of flavour, it doesn’t make the serve.
‘I really want to push the team to be creative,’ he adds, ‘so you’ll also see mains like octopus casserole with chorizo, bean, kale and garlic.’ The happiest part of his day? ‘Seeing the confidence of the young chefs growing. And tasting the first pizza of the day.’
The MARC Building, 129 Rivonia Rd, Sandton 010 594 5888 saint.restaurant @saint_jhb
BURATTA WITH SALSICCIA AND ORANGE Serves 2
• 100g buratta ball • 100g salsiccia • salt and pepper, to taste • extra-virgin olive oil • 3 orange segments • 5g pumpkin seeds • pinch coriander seeds • parsley • orange zest, to taste
Remove buratta from fridge an hour before serving. Crisp the salsiccia in a pan with a touch of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the buratta on a plate for serving and top with the hot sausage and oil. Arrange the orange segments, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and dust with salt, black pepper, coriander seeds and parsley. Finish with fresh orange zest, to taste.
Essentially, Saint’s all about the energy that a beautiful room and simple food bring. It’s not poncey and hushed – it’s expressive and unassuming
this spread A bespoke, handwoven tapestry hangs behind the reception desk at Saint. Featuring a centaur, African angel and cupid, this mythological piece was designed by Sarita Immelman at Grid. ‘It representsSaint perfectly,’ says interior designer Irene Kyriacou. ‘It has a bit of everything… whimsical wonder, local flavour and international flair.’
this spread (from left) Chef and co-owner David Higgs in the bar, where the chairs are by Thabiso Mjo of Mash T Design Studio and the deconstructed sculpture behind the bar is by Damian Grivas; the 1 000m2 restaurant seats approximately 230 people and features a vaulted ceiling where moving art is created by four 4-D projectors. The ceramic façades on the pass are by Rialheim and mirror the tiled roofs of old Italy; pendants by Flos illuminate the blushing shades of the cement wall tiles by Wolkberg. ‘The soft terracotta tiles are the element I used to guide me when selecting the other decor pieces,’ says Kyriacou, who worked with a number of furniture designers, including David Krynauw and Guideline.