*Featured image taken by Steve Steinfeld, The Joburg Foodie.

After 13 years at The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa, Chef Candice Philip will be at the helm of the property’s new fine-dining restaurant Grei, which opens on the 19th of April. Diners can expect unusual pairings, herbaceous flavours and intricately plated dishes that pop with colour.

Grei, which loosely translates from Portuguese as a ‘society of people’, will be centred around a palate of grey tones: “Essentially, grey is colour without colour,” she explains. “This has been a huge inspiration in developing the look and feel of the space, and menu.”

The Saxon’s epic vegetable garden will naturally be featuring as inspiration, but Chef Candice is looking to hero overlooked ingredients in her new space. “We’ve always worked with the garden and its produce, focusing first on organic and heirloom, and later looking to the proteins,” she says. “But for me, the herbs are often the little things that are overlooked. Not only do they bring an enticing aroma to the food, but also great flavour and colour.”

Grei’s six-course menu will have the smell and flavour of the garden’s herbs running through each dish and highlight three key flavours from each dish, as well as conveying a different colour with each course. Each dish will be paired with a combination of local and international wines, or a non-alcoholic option, and there’ll be vegetarian and pescatarian menus available.

The 32-seater restaurant will, naturally, feature décor in different tones of grey, with fur and beaded feature walls, table cloths and carpets adding texture. The muted tones create a calm, sophisticated yet unintimidating space that allows the colours of the dishes to stand out. Chef Candice, who was intimately involved in the design conceptualisation and installation was inspired by the Scandinavian’s simple, minimal and sophisticated approach to plating, food and restaurants.

Grei takes over from The Saxon’s previous fine-dining restaurants in the upstairs venue of the Saxon Hotel, overlooking the property’s indigenous gardens and trees. “Since joining the Saxon, I’ve been privileged to work alongside some of the country’s best Chefs – including Chef David Higgs and Chef Luke Dale-Roberts,” she says. “I’m excited to bring my own long-held vision to life in the form of Grei. I really want people to come and appreciate what we’re doing – to take the time and enjoy the journey.”