The Carnelian restaurant leaves you tingling with excitement


Entering the towering, staircase into Carnelian – the new venture above The Rock in Fourways Design Quarter – one feels a tingle of excitement of what lies beyond.

Stepping through the luminous glass doors does not disappoint - a vast, glowing oasis for the Jozi elite. ‘Seductively chic’, as they proclaim themselves to be, is not far off the mark. ‘Purposely upmarket, with exquisite, hand-picked finishings and all the trappings of opulence you would expect in an exclusive venue’ – might, however, be pushing it a bit far.

A closer inspection reveals a touch too much faux and it lets down the interiors. Paint technique, art works, fake windows and frames in a restaurant claiming such ‘exclusivity’ are slightly amiss.

Fortunately, a gleaming 15-meter marble bar provides a welcome focal point. The Art Deco inspired bar façade is the real work of art in the space. A mean Gin Martini and Mojito went down well, but were not quite the artisanal masterpieces promised.

As seems the new norm in large Johannesburg eateries, the swish interiors take the forefront in the planning and execution. Hence my inevitable style over substance comparison between the interiors and food.

The Caesar salad was not bad, although not an all-together exciting start for the thrilling tapas promised. Croquettes, although moreish, were a touch over-played (we received many deep fried balls with various fillings throughout the night). The pork belly, tempura beans and fish cakes went down well with the fabulously fun group of strangers at my table.

However, the jury was out on the lamb served with atchar, and the mielie on the cob - a delicious, but cold blob of herb butter on top. Floss please! Sushi in the middle of all this was just plain strange (tapas, really?). Less micro herbs, more dimension of flavour and zing please.

The dish of the day arrived at the end of the meal in the form of a deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie. Delicately balanced and served with blooms and refreshing sorbet.

Friendly, if somewhat inexperienced staff, scurried around us all night. I asked for ice three times, and I’m still waiting. Dishes were named on enquiry only, with very little detail on hand. My semi-vegetarian guest had to find out the hard way that she was eating bacon in the amber lighting.

We still had a great night out. Is it Johannesburg’s sexiest new restaurant? If that means a stylish, moody bar with beautiful people and a decent bite to eat, maybe. If you’re expecting exclusivity and punchy dining of the sexier kind…there is some work to be done yet.

Contact Franchisee Natalie Major
Johannesburg contact number 083 489 2319
Johannesburg email address