Between 1 October 2022 and 30 September 2023, more than 290,000 diners across the country reviewed over 1,300 local restaurants, rating their food, value, service and ambience. Now, the results of the second annual Dineplan Reviewers’ Choice Awards are in.
Scooping the number one spot on this year’s top 100 list is Good to Gather, a tiny farm-to-table restaurant on Rozendal Farm at the foot of the Botmaskop mountain in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. After taking second place in 2022, this year the eatery not only ascended to become the country’s overall number one choice, but also took top honours in the ambience and food categories.
Owned by husband-and-wife duo Jess and Luke Grant, Good to Gather offers a three-course menu that changes weekly and incorporates seasonal ingredients locally sourced from small-scale farmers. Diners can savour these culinary delights under the oak trees in the courtyard throughout summer or in the vinegar tasting room during colder months amidst views of the cellar packed with the farm’s botanical-infused red wine vinegars.
The reviews speak for themselves, with one patron saying: “This is one of my most favourite, special, delicious places in the whole wide world. Luke and Jess always go the extra mile to accommodate us.” Another gushed, “A really wonderful experience! The food was incredible, and the setting is lovely. We’d definitely go back.”
Of their win, the couple says, “Words cannot express how honoured we are to receive such a wonderful accolade! We started our business three years ago, through all the trials and challenges of 2020, and turned an old dairy room into a kitchen. We now also have a farm shop that makes all the produce we source available to guests and the local community. Our focus has always been on creating an experience that is a reflection and extension of who we are, our love for gathering the best produce we can find and the joy of sharing it with our guests.”
This year, the Western Cape dominated the winners’ circle, with the top five restaurants all emerging from the region. The remaining four are: Reverie Social Table in Cape Town (last year’s first place winner), Rust en Vrede in Stellenbosch, The Table at De Meye also in Stellenbosch, and Stettyn Family Vineyards Tasting Room in Villiersdorp. The full top 100 list can be found here.
The Awards aim to shine a light on SA’s most-loved restaurants – regardless of size, style, category or cuisine – as assessed by diners themselves – not by critics, judges, or voting systems. All reviews are generated by diners who have made and honoured a booking via the restaurant reservation platform, thereby eliminating fake reviews and ensuring authenticity.
Dineplan Growth Marketing Manager, Paige Errera explains that these Awards are intended to guide other diners to establishments renowned for quality food, service, ambience, and value, as well as to hidden gems and unique dining experiences. “We also use the review data to provide insights and feedback to restaurants about their offerings.”
“Restaurants which make it onto the top 100 list benefit from the recognition they receive for being one of SA’s top-rated eateries which in turn helps them boost their reputations, get their names out there and attract new guests, while also boosting staff morale,” she highlights. “In fact, the top 10 restaurants in the 2022 Awards experienced a 48% increase in the number of bookings over the past 12 months on average. While this isn’t just because of the Awards, we think they played a role in highlighting these incredible restaurants.”
Julia Hattingh, Chef Patron of Reverie Social Table concurs, saying, “It was great to be able to welcome more local guests to Reverie due very much to receiving the award. Personal guest feedback is so important, and we love reading about their experiences.”
Over the review period, Dineplan facilitated over 4,6 million reservations – seating more than 21 million diners at restaurants across the country. Only eateries that had been on the reservation platform for the entire 12-month evaluation window were considered for inclusion. However, those that joined during this time were eligible for the Newcomer Reviewers’ Choice Awards which saw five winners emerging in each of the following regions: Cape Town & Winelands, the Garden Route, Johannesburg, Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal.
“The Awards continue to grow, and competition intensifies each year. We anticipate further growth and evolution, but at its core, the Awards will always be about the diner experience,” concludes Errera.