South Africa on the Horizon


One has to be careful of superlatives when reviewing a restaurant, but when you are standing on the 34th floor of the Hilton, with panoramic views of Pattaya Bay both East and West, it is difficult not to wax eloquent.  There is no other restaurant in Pattaya with such majestic views.  Full stop!

The event the Dining Out team was attending was a South African Wine Dinner, with the South African Ambassador H.E. Ruby Marks, the Argentine Ambassador H.E. Ana Maria Ramirez and the President of the Thai-South African Chamber of Commerce Graham MacDonald MBE all in attendance.

The view from the interior is spectacular.The view from the interior is spectacular.

The wines being tasted were from the Graham Beck vineyards in South Africa, with Graham Beck himself an interesting wine producer, who set out originally to produce ‘champagne’, which we now know as ‘methode champenoise’.

Rainbow trout.Rainbow trout.

As the reception wine, we enjoyed the Graham Beck, Cap Classique, Brut Rose NV and continued on from the somewhat windy exterior section and into the covered dining area, all glass enclosed and the spectacular view for everyone.

The view from the balcony is even more spectacular.The view from the balcony is even more spectacular.

The Horizon’s chef is Shaun Venter, another South African, who proudly told me that he had imported many of the ingredients directly from South Africa, though some he had managed to procure locally.  For Shaun, this wine dinner was an opportunity to show off the native South African cuisine (as well as his own skills in preparation and presentation).

The first course was a Smokey seared scallop with a pumpkin puree and scallion vinaigrette and taken with the Brut Rose (which everyone enjoyed).

The official ‘starter’ was a snowfish ceviche which featured roasted avocado and caramelized butternut, all taken with the next wine, a Graham Beck, The Game Reserve, Chenin Blanc 2011.  Once more a most enjoyable combination that had everyone expectantly waiting for the next unique dish.

Chef Shaun had decided on two main courses, one fish featuring rainbow trout and the other meat labeled “Braai’d (South African BBQ) and Braised”, and the mains were served in that order.

The seafood main had a west coast crayfish risotto, saffron mussels and burnt lemon taken with the Graham Beck Waterside Chardonnay 2012.  Although young, it was a most pleasant chardonnay and went well with the delicate nature of the risotto.

The main meat course was much more dominant on the palate, with an Australian grilled beef tenderloin and we were given the choice of two reds to go with this.  These were a Graham Beck, The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 and a Graham Beck, The Ridge, Syrah 2009.

On our table, the Syrah was the more popular, exhibiting less of the tannins than that of the Cab/Sauv.  However, both went very well with the Aussie beef!

The final course was a dessert with brandy snap, toasted marshmallows and Amarula ice cream.  We polished off the last of the Ridge Syrah with the dessert!

It was a simply spectacular evening with innovative courses and enjoyable wines taken in a superlative venue.  By the way, the Graham Beck wines are available through the Tops supermarket chain.  Well worth your while having a browse.  Vineyard representative Alec Lowe also advised the diners that the Graham Beck Game Reserve labels came from the fact that this vineyard was the only one in the world with a game reserve next door, complete with wild leopards!

This wine dinner was THB 3,300 per person and worth every last baht.  Keep a lookout for the next one.  We certainly will!

Horizon Restaurant, 34th floor Hilton Pattaya, above the Central Festival Center, Beach Road.  Open seven days for dinner 6.00 p.m. until 11.30 p.m.  Dress code smart.  Valet parking available.  Booking recommended 038 825 3000.