By: Natasha Archary
It’s the season for sundowners and summery flavours lingering on your taste-buds and we have just the spot for you. Gorgeous views of the lake, tantalizing food on your plate and a feel-good place that prides itself on Afropolitan flair.
“Gratitude – Celebrate life”, is an upmarket seafood restaurant that is owned by the most aspirational couple we’ve had the pleasure of meeting. With the ambition to leave behind a legacy for their children and grandchildren, Vusi and Nomzoli Cwane, opened their family restaurant to simply say, thank you.
With the good and bad that the couple, who have been married for 33 years, have endured, they want their establishment to be a solid reminder of everything they are grateful for. Waking up each morning. For family. Health. A celebration of life.
Situated at Shop 12 Flamingo Shopping Centre, Queen Street, Modderfontein, Gratitude – celebrate life, is a restaurant that has an elite, fusion menu but the specialty is undoubtedly the seafood. Taking in the gold logo, one in reminded of the ripple effect a stone that skims the surface of water makes. It’s this ripple effect that Vusi and Nomzoli wish to leave behind with their generations to follow.
The décor is a sophisticated palette of gold, navy blue and grey. A very calming, nautical feel to the place with a real earthiness to the texture of the layout. It’s airy and light, with panoramic views of the lake. Serene. Beautiful. Poised. It is the most prime spot and a definite sensory pleaser.
A teacher by profession with a passion for food, mam’ Nomzoli plays a huge role in the dishes. Nothing on the menu passes criteria unless it’s something the Cwane’s love to eat themselves. There’s a part of their personalities in every dish we sampled.
The menu is extensive, with options for meat lovers, vegetarians and of course delicate seafood options. Sipping on her red latte, mam’ selects what we would be having for lunch. Her favourite dishes on the menu, which included an Asian style, prawn tempura taco to start. There’s that eclectic fusion element again.
If light and zingy could be described in one perfect bite, this starter would be it. Every bite literally melts in your mouth. Each ingredient on the plate, hits your tongue in distinct undertones of harmony. From the zesty, springy coleslaw to the crunchy, amazing-ness of the tempura battered prawns.
The main, a rib-eye of epic proportions, served with garlic mash potatoes, soy braised bok choy and sautéed mushrooms. We’re suckers for a good piece of meat. Juicy, tender beef cooked in a myriad of ways. We’ve tried them all, or so we thought.
We’re firm believers that you eat first with your eyes. It’s something that most restaurants pride. What’s different with Gratitude – celebrate life, is that each plate that comes out, has a definitive look and feel. From the design of the actual plates, with subtle hues of blue or deep ambers, to the delicate micro-greens intricately placed on the final dish.
The rib-eye was cooked to medium perfection. Hitting our senses with heady wafts of rosemary, thyme and just glorious meaty pleasure. One doesn’t need a steak knife to get into this main. The tenderness of the steak could have you slicing into it with a butter knife. The chefs are incredibly talented. And you can taste the freshness of each ingredient.
Tour of the kitchen
Wanting to be a chef in a previous life, meant being given a tour of the kitchen was a privileged treat. Stainless steel gleams. From counter-top to state-of-the-art Michelin star cookers. It’s the stuff a chef’s dreams are made of. Meticulous. Pristine. Yes, we were turned on by that impressive kitchen.
And just when we thought we couldn’t possibly stomach another mouthful, mam’ says we’re not leaving until we try her favourite dessert in the world. A French Napoleon inspired pastry with an Italian touch.
Traditionally, a mille feuille consists of ultra-thin, buttery puff pastry layered with a custard cream. Not at Gratitude – celebrate life. With their vast travel experiences, the Cwane’s put together their dishes with tastes of their travels influencing every menu item.
What came out was art on a plate. A neat rectangular pile of whipped, lightly sweetened mascarpone cream, strawberries, crushed ginger biscuits and the crispiest pastry shards in the world.
It all came together with a scoop of Italian, vanilla ice-cream. We salivate thinking about that dessert.
We left Gratitude in Modderfontein feeling completely satiated. That’s what good food does.
Check out Gratitude Celebrate Life on Facebook for more.