As you walk into Saint Verde Café, you can clearly see that the owners John Panas and Shannon Hill have been planning this restaurant for 9 years. The attention to detail is magnificent and the warm greeting you get is just an indication of the amazing experience that awaits. Head chef Hill has 16 years experience in the hospitality industry and was previously the head of banqueting at the Hilton Hotel in England. Front-of-house manager Panas was previously a professional jockey and after a serious injury decided to join Hill in finally making their dream come true.
From the beautiful carafes filled with fruit-flavoured water (Saturday’s version consisted of sliced orange, strawberries, melon, grapes & rocket), to the special touch they add to the cappuccinos (images or your name are added to the foam), long-time best friends Panas and Hill have gone out of their way to make sure everything is thought of. It also helps that this is truly one of the most stylish restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining in. The black and white check floors are complemented by gorgeous chandeliers, and a pop of colour – in the form of a bright red patent leather booth, finishes off the décor beautifully.
Hill was kind enough to prepare all his favourites and specialities for us and we started with the homemade chicken liver pâté. Smooth, rich and sweet, this pâté is flavoured with cognac, brandy and apples, served with onion jam and crusty olive bread. Absolutely the perfect starter, it would be equally great as a pre-dinner snack with drinks.
If breakfast is what you’re after, you without-a-doubt cannot miss the Eggs Benedict! I’m not really a fan of Eggs Benedict as I’m not crazy about very soft eggs, but Hill has perfected it. Free range eggs are served on a generous portion of salty parma ham, fresh rocket, and a crispy toasted Italian muffin. A delicious blanket of minted Hollandaise sauce rounds off what is now my favourite breakfast in the world!
The salads are equally delicious with plentiful toppings, the St Michel in particular catching my eye. The gnocchi gorgonzola is something all pasta lovers should try as the gnocchi is perfectly cooked and the sauce is delicate and creamy with just enough gorgonzola. Many times gorgonzola sauce can be too thick and strong, but once again, Hill’s years of experience shines right through, and the dish is perfectly rounded off with wilted spinach.
We also tried the Lucky Luc’s pizza, and although I rarely order pizza at a restaurant, this is certainly one I will have again. The base is perfectly crisp and thin (the trick to the wonderful flavour is white wine), with just enough topping, served on a beautiful wooden board. Then we came to the pièce de résistance – Saint Verde’s speciality, the mango & brie fillet. Cheese & fruit almost always work together and let me tell you, on top of a perfectly grilled, juicy steak, it is perfection! Served on a generous bed of mashed potatoes, this dish is pure decadence. Our meal was finished off with a Lindt chocolate mousse straight from the gods. I could rant and rave for hours about the smoothness, the richness etc. but all you need to do is go and experience it for yourself!
Starters and salads rangefrom R30 to R75, pizzas from R30 to R94, mains from R60 to R130, and desserts from R30 to R50.
Saint Verde Café is situated in the Pineslopes Centre in Fourways.