A dining experience that’s simply 2Thai4!

A decade ago, the average Joburger would be hard-pressed to name 10 destination-worthy Thai restaurants. However, as our city’s collective palate has expanded, so too have the options for this tantalising cuisine, so I recently made it my mission to find the very best Thai food in Joburg. Unexpectedly, I found it at a tremendously charming little eatery tucked away on Corlett Drive – say hello to 2Thai4!

I arrived at 2Thai4 a couple of weeks ago on a terribly chilly Friday evening with Nik, my boyfriend, for dinner. As we stepped inside, we were warmly welcomed by the friendly staff. I was immediately delighted by the creative yet somewhat homey interior – think lots of bright colours, authentic Thai décor, and a wonderful, big fireplace! It all made for a wonderfully relaxed and cosy atmosphere – just perfect for a freezing cold night.

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To kick off the evening, Nik and I ordered up a round of Singha beers. I’m not a beer drinker as such, but I’ve got to say that I really enjoy those refreshing Thai brews! To eat, we decided we’d share two starters between the two of us; the Po Pia Tord (Thai spring rolls filled with shrimp) and Moo Satay (chicken satay). Our starters came out quickly and hit the spot just perfectly! The spring rolls were crisp with a flavourful filling, while the chicken was perfectly tender and the peanut sauce that accompanied it was ever so moreish.

For mains, I then decided on the Phad Thai Song Keung (stir-fried noodles with prawns, bean sprouts, chives, onions, garlic, eggs and peanuts), and Nik went for the Gaeng Keow Wan (their famous green curry with chicken, coconut milk and bite-size vegetables). All I can is wow … my dish was out of this world! I thoroughly enjoyed the interesting mix of flavours and textures. The base sauce of the dish was simply sublime, and there was a generous portion of prawns in there, too.

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Nik’s curry, on the other hand, was also incredible. I don’t do super-spicy food so I was hesitant to try it at first, but I’m glad I did. Once again, the flavours were perfect and it was such a satisfying dish that I might even consider ordering it the next time that we visit! I might also add that the portions were huge, so we weren’t able to finish our dishes. However, you’ll be glad to know that the leftovers made for a delicious lunch the next day!

All in all, I had an incredible meal at 2Thai4 and will certainly be back time and time again to satisfy my Thai food cravings that tend to hit around this chilly time of year. The menu is extensive with a mouth-watering variety of authentic options, the food is honest, simple and pure quality, the service is attentive and friendly, and the place itself is sure to have you feeling as if you’re dining in one of those glorious Thai eateries in the heart of Bangkok.

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The next time you find yourself dying for something spicy or soul-warming, head over to this awesome little place. It’s the perfect spot to keep warm this winter – trust me on that! If you’ve already paid them a visit, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

PS: 2Thai4 “spiced” up their menu last month. Be sure to visit soon to try out some of the yummy new additions!

DETAILS:

Address: 59 Corlett Drive, Melrose, Johannesburg

Phone number: 011 440 3000

Website: http://www.2thai4.co.za

Indulge in an evening riddled with romance at Maximillien Restaurant

When last did you and your partner treat yourselves to a romantic date night? I’m not talking about the mediocre kind, but rather the kind filled with top wines, fine food and live jazz in an intimate setting … for my partner and I, the last time was just last week at the ever-so-classy establishment that is Maximillien Restaurant situated in the Da Vinci Hotel and Suites right in the heart of Sandton – let me tell you all about it!

Nik, my boyfriend, and myself arrived at Maximillien Restaurant last Thursday at around 7pm. Upon arrival, we were served a round of champagne, which was the perfect way to set the mood for the evening ahead! I mean, who doesn’t just love a glass of bubbly? Our very kind and professional waiter then showed us to our table. The table for two was elegantly dressed with all white and was lit up by the glow of a candle … can you say intimate?

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To start off, I opted to order the Caprese salad (complemented with cherry tomatoes and bocconcini cheese drizzled with basil pesto), while Nik went for the flash-grilled baby calamari with garlic butter (paired with crispy mozzarella risotto). Our starters arrived at our table rather quickly and were both simply sublime! My salad was light and fresh, while Nik’s calamari, which I was lucky enough to steal a bite of, was remarkably tasty and I just loved risotto balls that came with it.

For mains, I then ordered the seared salmon with sesame crust (complemented with vegetable ratatouille and pesto mash) with a glass of my favourite chardonnay to go with it. Nik went the meat route, and decided to have the lamb chops (infused with rosemary and garlic BBQ basting) paired with a glass of merlot. When our mains arrived at our table, I was also tempted to tuck in without snapping photos first – that’s how divine they looked!

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My fillet of salmon was sumptuously fresh, and the sesame crust was something truly unique, which added a glorious texture to your normal old salmon dish. I also enjoyed every last mouthful of the sides that accompanied it. Nik said that his lamb chops were just as impressive, and that the BBQ basting that they were done in was something completely different that surprising complemented the dish amazingly well.

After finishing our mains, Nik and I decided to sit back with another round of wine and simply drink in the wonderfully elegant décor and the soft sounds of live jazz that filled the air. Sadly, we were too full to tuck into desserts, but we’ll sure we back soon to try some of the restaurant’s decadent offerings!

All in all, Nik and I had a fabulous evening out at Maximillien Restaurant. It really is one of the most elite spots in Sandton to indulge in a top-notch meal – the atmosphere is incredibly intimate, the décor and feel to the restaurant is elegant and exclusive, the food is sure to please even the most discerning palate, and the service is faultless!

PS: On Thursday evenings, Maximillien Restaurant has amazing local musicians perform who are sure to delight you and your date, so head on over for a pre-weekend razzle! If you’ve visited this divine restaurant already, please let me know what you thought of it – I’d love to hear from you!

DETAILS:

Address: Legacy Corner Mall, 2 Maude Street, Sandton CBD, Johannesburg

Phone number: 011 292 7111

Website: http://www.maximillien.co.za

Travel-ready skin and hair products you’ve just got to have

If you’re anything like me, you often catch yourself dreaming of jetting off to somewhere fabulous for the weekend. You know, somewhere where you can soak up some sun, sip on delicious cocktails, take long walks on the beach, indulge in spa treatments and enjoy romantic dinners … you see, there I go again!

Okay, so maybe you’ll just be visiting somewhere local for a weekend away or a quick business trip and not a dreamy private island, but either way you’ve got to take your beloved beauty products along to stay fresh and fabulous.

These are my favourite travel-ready skin and hair products that are perfect for tossing into your carry-on so that looking glam will be on your itinerary no matter your destination!

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Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser

If you’ve got sensitive skin that’s prone to redness and irritation like I do, your skin is sure to adore this creamy gel cleanser. It’s especially ideal for using on those days when you’ve spent lots of time out in the sun or swimming in saltwater.

Essence My Skin Refreshing Toner

I love this toner because it’s light, hydrating and suitable for all skin types. It also smells like grapes, which is awesome, too! It’s handy for refreshing for your skin at any time of day as well as for removing excess make-up that’s left on your skin after using a make-up wipe.

Ordinary Skincare Day Cream SPF 30

For a healthy dose of hydration, all you need is one pump of this day cream that’s formulated with only the most skin-friendly all-natural ingredients. The sun-protective formula is a little thicker than most day creams, so I find that if you apply it early in the morning it keeps your skin fresh and plump all day. Plus, it doubles as a make-up primer!

Beauty Fix Radiant Makeup Finish Spray

This gorgeous-smelling make-up spray can be used in three ways – to prime your skin before applying make-up, to freshen up your make-up throughout the day, and to set your make-up to kept your look intact for hours. I personally love using it to freshen up my look the most – it lends skin the most beautiful glow, so there are no need for constant bronzer touch-ups!

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Mineraline Aloe Vera Mud Mask 70%

You never know when your skin may decide to break out, so it’s always handy to have a soothing facemask on hand! I love this one because the formula is enriched with genuine Dead Sea black mud, which calms and clear problem skin in a snap.

Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo

Every girl needs a bottle of dry shampoo stashed in her handbag … you don’t want to waste precious time washing and styling your locks, do you? I love this formula because it smells heavenly, degreases strands, and comes in two tints so it doesn’t leave behind that chalky cast that other types do.

Hask Keratin Protein Smoothing Shine Oil

Factors like too much time out in the sun, swimming in a chlorinated pool or too much heat styling can leave your hair looking drab and lifeless. This luxurious keratin-rich hair oil will hydrate your hair while lending it a gorgeous shine minus any oily residue. Using it regularly will also strengthen your hair in the long-term (bonus!).

Fudge Urban Iced Coconut Cocktail Hairspray

Sometimes it’s just more fuss-free and quicker to put your hair up, whether it’s in an elegant updo or a sleek ponytail. This natural-feeling hairspray provides a strong hold with anti frizz to keep any style in place. Plus, it smells just like a pina colada – can you say dreamy?

What are your go-to skin and hair products when you’re travelling?

Indulge in milkshakes and burgers at Brooklyn Brothers

Burgers and milkshakes … ah, two of my top guilty pleasures! If you too enjoy a big, tasty burger and a tall, decadent milkshake, you’ve got to try out Brooklyn Brothers! One of Joburg’s trendiest new burger joints, this spot has the most delicious diner-style foods on offer, from milkshakes and fries to wings and burgers. Everything is fresh, flavourful and unbelievably well-priced!

I popped into Brooklyn Brothers for a bite to eat last night with a friend of mine. We didn’t know what to expect. In my head, I pictured it to be nothing more than a glorified fast food joint … and boy, was I wrong! We arrived and were instantly impressed by the edgy glossy black walls, black and yellow décor, and funky lights.

 

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Our friendly, informative waiter talked us through everything on the menu … and I’ll have you know that everything sounded so divine! I quite liked the informal yet classic diner-style menu, which is disposable and requires you to simply tick off whatever you want to order.

Between the two of us, my friend and I decided to order a number of dishes to try: The boneless Whacky Wings done cajun-style, the boneless Hot BB Wings, The Brooklyn Brothers Burger with a beef patty, The MOB-ster Burger with a chicken patty, The Brothers House Salad, and the Jalapeno Poppers.

 

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Our food arrived quickly, and everything looked so juicy and delicious! I’ll admit that I was tempted to tuck in before snapping some photos (yup, the food looked that good!) … and anyone who knows me, knows that that’s something I never do!

Each dish was served on either a wooden board or in a basket. The burgers were wrapped, which I thought was a great practical touch to avoid too much mess when eating. Plus, each portion of food was huge!

 

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The burgers were just to-die-for … they packed loads of freshness and flavour! After scoffing mine down, I barely had space left to taste anything else – but I did anyway (so much for my diet!). The wings were fantastic – nice and spicy (just the way I like them) on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside.

The salad was a very generous portion, and was exceptionally fresh. The Jalapeno Poppers were perfectly crumbed and had the most delicious three-cheese filling … just beware – they are quite hot!

 

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After our huge and very enjoyable meal, we I decided that our diner-style dinner wouldn’t be complete without milkshakes. I went for the That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles shake, while my friend opted for the Peanut Butter Caramel. Our shakes arrived quickly and they were out of this world! It was simply love at first sip.

I really enjoyed Brooklyn Brothers a lot – the value for money is actually unreal. If you’re looking to pick up a tasty meal on-the-go, or to enjoy good food without breaking the bank, give this place a try. I promise you … you won’t be sorry! I can’t wait to go back … I’m still dreaming of that heavenly milkshake. Yum!

 

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To locate your nearest Brooklyn Brothers, go here.

A glamorous night out at The Saxon’s Qunu Grill

The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa is one of our city’s most gorgeous hotels … and I’ve made no secret of my obsession with it. A few weeks back, a small group of friends and I went for dinner at Qunu Grill, which is one of their two divine restaurants. It was such a special evening … let me tell you all about it!

Qunu is a tad more affordable than Five Hundred, The Saxon’s other restaurant, but still has that upmarket, glamorous feel that the hotel exudes. The restaurant has a somewhat Parisian feel … which is probably why I fell in love with it from the second I stepped through the door!

 

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My friends and I were seated at a beautifully set table in the middle of the restaurant. Our waiter, who was welcoming, polite and smartly dressed, immediately brought over a basket of fresh bread rolls, and then took down our drinks order.

Our whiskies arrived promptly. While sipping on my drink, I perused the menu, which got my mouth watering rather quickly. Qunu’s menu offers a lovely variety of soups, salads, starters, fish, seafood, pastas, meats, poultry and desserts. Dishes that caught my eye immediately included the prawn and avocado salad, pan-fried salmon, seared pole caught tuna, goat’s cheese risotto and chicken penne … yum!

 

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To start, my friends and I decided to order three dishes to share – the Vietnamese spring rolls (with prawn and chilli sauce), the hand-cut beef tartare (with quail’s egg and a petit herb salad), and the cured ostrich (with strawberries and whipped brie).

The starters arrived within good time and were all beautifully presented and very flavourful. I especially enjoyed the spring rolls … they’re more like crystal rolls than spring rolls in my opinion, but were so deliciously crispy on the outside with a succulent prawn filling on the inside.

 

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For mains, the girls all opted for the seared pole caught tuna (with Asian vegetables, egg noodles and lemon and soya), while the guys all went for the Steak Diane (beef fillet with mushroom, cream, onion, garlic and brandy).

The mains took a bit of time to get to our table (all good things take time, right?), but when they arrived the reason why was clear … the amount of effort put into plating each dish was exceptional! Before tucking in, we all watched one of the chefs flambé the steaks for the guy, which made for a wonderfully unique dining experience.

 

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The tuna dish was cooked to absolute perfection, and the portion was pretty generous, too. I enjoyed every mouthful, as did my girlfriends. Every ingredient that went into the dish packed so much freshness and flavour … I’m not exaggerating when I say that my taste buds were taken on a journey! The guys said the steak was just as divine, so it’s safe to say that the food was faultless!

For dessert (because what’s a dinner without a sweet ending, right?), we had a few different plates on our table for everyone to taste, such as the chocolate and walnut tart, the light lemon pudding, and the deconstructed red velvet cheesecake. My favourite was by far the red velvet cheesecake … I adored the presentation, and the dish itself was so sweet, creamy and decant! I loved the combination of crunchy, creamy and jelly textures in it as well.

All in all, I loved every moment of my evening at Qunu. It sure is the perfect choice for a special dinner. If you’re looking for a superb place to have dinner with a loved one or some close friends, give Qunu a try. You can be sure that The Saxon seldom disappoints!

 

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DETAILS:

Address: The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, 36 Saxon Road, Sandhurst, Sandton, Johannesburg

Phone number: 010 500 9906

Website: www.saxon.co.za

Classy casual dining at Bistro 1682

Over the holidays, myself and a girlfriend of mine decided to treat ourselves to a stunning girls’ lunch one sunny Friday afternoon. We called up a couple of our favourite spots, only to be disappointed that they were all fully-booked. My friend then suggested Bistro 1682 at Steenberg Vineyards. Considering neither of us had been before, we decided to give them a call and were lucky enough to reserve the last table available for lunch that day … and I’m so delighted that we did!

Named after the year that Steenberg Vineyards was established, Bistro 1682 is what I’d consider the tapas and bistro-style darling of Cape Town’s dining scene. An interactive and innovative space, the bistro sits adjacent to Steenberg’s winery, and spills into its surrounding gardens with a gorgeous terraced dining area that leads to reflective water features.

 

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My friend and I arrived and were seated at our comfortable table out on the terrace. The views of the expansive vineyards and stone mountains from our seats were simply magnificent! It all made for a very relaxed yet sophisticated ambiance. We ordered a bottle of champagne that arrived quickly on ice, and our lovely waitress then talked us through all of the specials of the day.

The bistro’s menu is kept simple, featuring only around twelve or so dishes. On the specials board, they had six different dishes on offer. After much contemplation, with everything sounding so divine, I decided on the fish of the day, which was a seared tuna fillet served on a bed of peas with a soya and wasabi glaze. My girlfriend went for the same dish.

 

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Our food arrived promptly, and was so beautifully presented. It really looked like a work of art! The tuna was cooked to perfection, and the dish overall burst with freshness and was wonderfully flavourful! I enjoyed every mouthful. I must also add that the portion was really big, which left us with no room for dessert. But I’ll certainly be back to try some of the other drool-worthy dishes on their menu, along with a decadent dessert!

All in all, I had a very pleasant experience at Bistro 1682. If you’re looking for a posh spot to enjoy good food and wine, go here! And pop into the cellar next door after your meal to buy a few bottles of wine or bubbly to take home.

 

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DETAILS:

Address: Steenberg Hotel, Steenberg Road, Constantia, Cape Town

Phone number: 021 713 2222

Website: www.steenbergfarm.com/bistro1682

Sushi and sweet endings at The Big Mouth

I don’t know about you, but I could eat sushi every day of the week. So when I heard that a chic new sushi spot had opened down the road from home in Nelson Mandela Square, you can only imagine my excitement! I headed over right away with some girlfriends for sushi and cocktails, and we were left ever-so-impressed … The Big Mouth is a real treat in every way!

We arrived at the restaurant on a summery Saturday evening and sat down at a table near the front of the restaurant. The view of the square from our table was lovely. The Big Mouth isn’t anything that I expected – it’s upmarket, trendy and just gorgeous! I don’t know why I expected it to be a casual spot. The mix of elements inside the restaurant is rather harmonious – think bold blue seating, brass accents throughout, and a white marble clad sushi bar. Our friendly waiter came over right away and handed us menus.

 

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The menu boasts a big variety of sushi and fish dishes. Some sushi dishes are really interesting, such as the Rock Shrimp Tempura Roll (rock shrimp tempura, spicy salmon maki and creamy mayo), the Fish & Chips Roll (crispy hake, picked radish, avocado California roll, spicy mayo, mini potato crisps, peas, balsamic glaze and Sriracha dressing), and the Pink Roses (prawn, caviar, mayo and salmon). The restaurant also has a fabulous cocktail menu that offers some thirst-quenching concoctions, like the Raspberry Thyme Margarita and the Lemongrass Mojito … yum!

After much contemplation, we all decided to order a Watermelon and Basil Cooler (vodka, watermelon, basil, ginger beer and lemon) and the Salmon Bowl (cubed raw salmon, avocado, edamame beans, shitake mushrooms, short-grain brown rice, crispy onions, ginger, spring onion, toasted sesame seeds, chilli oil, sesame oil and soya sauce) as per our waiter’s recommendation.

 

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Our drinks arrived first. Served in jam jars and garnished with fresh basil, they were simply delicious … and you know that I’m a cocktail snob of note, so you can bet that they were really tasty! Then our food came, and it was pretty much love at first sight. The portion of salmon was very generous, and all of the ingredients in the dish tasted fresh and flavourful. My friends and I all thoroughly enjoyed the Salmon Bowl!

To end the evening on a sweet note, we ordered both the Oreo Jar (crumbled Oreos and Nutella mousse) and the Ice-Cream Sandwich (chocolate chip cookies, double milk chocolate ice-cream, popcorn marshmallows and honeycomb ice-cream) to share. The desserts arrived promptly, and they were out of this world! I can’t wait to go back to try some of their other dreamy desserts, such as the Peanut Butter Cheesecake and the Banana Cream Jar … I mean, how divine do those dishes sound?

All in all, I couldn’t fault The Big Mouth. I feel it’s the upmarket sushi restaurant that Sandton was lacking. You can bet I’ll be back – the location is prime, the ambiance is sophisticated and lively, the décor is beautiful, the service is fantastic and the food is just awesome! The next time you’re trying to pick out a restaurant for a girls’ dinner or a special date night, or are simply craving sushi, give this spot a try. You won’t be disappointed!

DETAILS:

Address: Shop 13 & 14, Nelson Mandela Square, corner of Maude & 5th Streets, Sandown, Sandton, Johannesburg

Phone number: 063 293 8869

Website: www.thebigmouth.co.za