To reinvent menus in one of the country’s best loved resorts, The Palace of the Lost City’s Executive Chef turned to the North West’s agriculture and heritage for influence.
Guests at Sun City Resort’s flagship five-star hotel are in for a treat after Wesli Jacobs and his two “right hand men”, executive sous chefs Angelo van Wyk and Mandla Nontso in June unveiled months’ worth of work with new menus on offer at signature steakhouse The Grill Room, Tusk Bar, hotel pool, and in-room dining.
The Grill Room is The Palace's signature steakhouse, where guests can enjoy a dining experience offering the best of South African cuisine, complemented by one of the most notable wine lists in the country.
A recent trip to Italy had Jacobs enthusing over seasonality and fresh ingredients, an ethos he has brought home to Rustenburg. “The brief from The Palace’s General Manager Nico Myburgh was to design a menu showcasing what people in the North West province traditionally eat, but presented in a manner which is world-class and five-star,” Jacobs said.
What has resulted is what Jacobs calls an “Afro-Asian grill” style of cooking, using exotic mushrooms, miso paste and sesame in many dishes. “I love Asian flavours and I have incorporated my own heritage in Durban with the food found locally around Sun City to create what we hope guests will love. When a plate of food is set before a guest, it needs to signal that they are at The Palace.”
With the North West producing about one third of the country's maize, guests can expect corn cooked in a variety of creative ways. “From chargrilled corn to creamy truffle samp and caramel corn, this is mielie as you might not have previously known it,” said the chef, who sources locally as far as possible, including free range pork and duck.
Dishes include seared biltong crusted kudu, dukkah spiced duck breast salad, locally-farmed kabeljou cerviche, beef tartar using quail eggs source locally, seared kudu lion, braised springbok and a cumin spiced free range lamb rack. Vegetarian dishes include a barley butternut risotto, and a chef’s soup of the day ranging from curried butternut to minted pea or wild mushroom - and many dishes can be adapted to be gluten and dairy-free.
Pressed to name his favourite dish, Jacobs claims the South African trio of beef, as it “celebrates the whole cow”. “This is a dish that speaks to our country, using different parts of the animal, from a Durban-style tripe curry to an oxtail bredie and slow braised beef cheeks, served with traditional condiments - roti, steamed bread and traditional samp. It’s a dish reminiscent of what your grandmother would serve to you as a winter comfort meal, something to celebrate together with family and friends.”
Desserts include The Palace’s contemporary take on South African classics like milk tart and sticky toffee pudding which is served with Amarula custard and burnt and dehydrated orange.
The pool menu offers woodfired sourdough pizzas, from a pulled beef, brisket, caramelised onion, rocket and mozzarella, “to evoke flavours of a Sunday lunch”, to a tandoori chicken and a classic margherita. “We also love our smoked salmon pizza, which just works so well with a white sauce base with guacamole and capers.”
The Tusk Bar, a 45-seater bar with dining space, has a social menu designed for sharing. “People gather here for drinks before dinner, so we offer charcuterie and a cheese board if you’re wanting something to nibble on over a beer or glass of wine, but you can also have a salad, poke bowl, sandwich, pasta, curry or steak if you’re wanting something more substantial.”
The in-room dining menu offers a large variety of dishes from soups to salads, pastas and curries, meat and fish. “This is to meet requirements of guests who are staying for more than a week. For these long-stay guests, I get acquainted with them to find out if we can prepare any dishes they might be missing from home.” One guest requested a variety of braai meat, chakalala and pap, so Jacobs and his team had to fire up the coals.
“From a sustainability perspective, many of the dishes across the menus use same core ingredients but the flavour profiles are different. This ensures less food wastage which is a global issue,” said Jacobs.
“Our guests expect impeccable service and high-quality food and their expectations are even higher at The Palace as our reputation precedes us,” said Myburgh. “The Palace hasn’t changed its menus in a couple of years and we are looking forward to hearing feedback from our many regular guests. I am confident we have many new favourites in the making that will see our guests love every moment of their time at The Palace.”
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