Being a fan of coffee shops and dining out and evidently landing up as the owner of Travelling Mystery Guest, I’ve visited quite a few restaurants in Southern Africa.
Most of the restaurants I’ve visited form part of popular franchises, as they are usually the most affordable. I LOVE fine dining, but unless it’s for work, someone else pays, or it really is a special occasion, I don’t often visit them. It’s interesting to see, also, how your perception changes over the years. Staying in a small country town for most of my life, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of fine dining. In grade 9 my favourite restaurant was Wiesenhof in River Square, Vereeniging! Today, after studying in Pretoria and experiencing life in Cape Town, I’ve learnt that there is much more to dining out.
“Where I was used to vanilla flavoured milkshakes and chicken mayo sandwiches, I can now appreciate pre-planned white, square plates with elegantly placed proteins, foreign vegetables and garnishes that turns food into art.” –Renate de Villiers
South Africa’s restaurant industry is quite versatile, though. Sometimes you really just want to experience the nostalgia that comes with a vanilla milkshakes or chicken mayo toasted sandwich. Other times an elegant white plate painted with food is the perfect fit. It is, however, always about the presentation and the service received and that is what classifies some restaurants higher than others.
- Digital interaction with customers (social media, on their website, blogs, etc.).
- More health options on the menu (i.e. for people with allergies or intolerances).
- Waiters’ knowledge about the menu and suggestions regarding wines, different menu options, etc.
- The restaurant’s involvement regarding social and environmental responsibility.
- Small things that make big impressions like a compliment in a cup, letting kids put together their own pizzas, something different like a unique teapot, freshly baked bread and now also the popular crafters’ beers.
These are but a few o the things that play a role in South Africa’s restaurants. Where do you fit in?